The Gospel is not a slogan. Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks these words during an interview, as he condemns the war on poverty as contrary to the Gospel.
That’s a strong statement, right? Maybe a bit too extreme, right?
But maybe it’s not.
After all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was seen as a radical during his earthly life, not only because he spoke the truth, but because he was the truth. After all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was put to death on a cross because people were afraid of the truth that he was.
Cardinal Sarah expands, making an important distinction between poverty and destitution:
“The Church must not fight against poverty but, rather, wage a battle against destitution, especially material and spiritual destitution. … [so that all] might have the minimum they require in order to live. …
But we do not have the right to confuse destitution and poverty, because in so doing we would seriously be going against the Gospel. Recall what Christ told us: ‘The poor you will have always with you …’ (Jn 12:8). Those who want to eradicate poverty make the Son of God a liar. …
The Son of God loves the poor; others intend to eradicate them. What a lying, unrealistic, almost tyrannical utopia! I always marvel when Gaudium et Spes declares, ‘The spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ’ (GS 88).
We must be precise in our choice of words. The language of the UN and its agencies, who want to suppress poverty, which they confuse with destitution, is not that of the Church of Christ. The Son of God did not come to speak to the poor in ideological slogans! The Church must banish these slogans from her language. For they have stupefied and destroyed peoples who were trying to remain free in conscience (Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing: A Conversation in Faith with Nicholas Diat, pp. 140-142).”
Is Cardinal Sarah being too extreme?
I do not think so. In fact, I think that he is absolutely right. As the Beaver says in C.S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is good. The truth is not tame. But it is good, and it is truth.
Pope Francis asks us to be countercultural, to be radical, to imitate Christ: “I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love.”