The Cry of the Rich

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By Luke Parker, a writer at Clarifying Catholicism.

How often do we hear some spiteful comment about the wealthy? In an era where socialist ideas enjoy growing popularity among the youth, the “one percent” is attracting greater disdain. The Church, the champion of the poor, rightfully shows concern for the depravity that the impoverished face. We ask much of the wealthy to “do their part” and “pay their fair share.” Time and time again, the government proposes that the wealthy be taxed more in order to bolster welfare programs. We may find, however, that we are taking for granted the well-being of our wealthy brothers and sisters who all have the same spiritual needs as the rest of us.

Given that the contemporary Church often seems to be more concerned with social justice than the salvation of souls in all social classes, it makes sense that pastoral care for the wealthy would easily fall to the wayside. Why would we care about their salvation when all we want is their money?

Of course, the prosperous among us must engage in generous giving to be participants in the Corporal Works of Mercy. That is simply an integral and necessary aspect of being a true Christian. We must remember that the top one percent is in just as much need of ministry and filial support within the Church community. One could argue, on a spiritual level, that they are the most impoverished among us.

We come across too many reports of a celebrity getting into drug trouble, marital jeopardy, or even committing suicide. In our materially-focused society and Church, it is difficult to comprehend the unhappiness that leads to these tragedies. How could these filthy-rich people be so depressed? Do they not embody the ideal lifestyle? Yet, being imbued in carnal pleasures often leads to a dry spirit. In a way, their wealth is a curse that eats at their soul from within, only to face a church and society that seem to view them as people supposedly withholding resources from the needy.

For those of us who are not particularly wealthy, we must resist the temptation of jealousy. It is easy to blame the rich among us for all of our material problems. How ashamed would we be to find that many of those we subconsciously despise are suffering immensely? The wealthy deserve our prayers, not our envy.

King St Louis with the Poor [postage stamp, France, 1967]
In our quest for uplifting the poor, we must never forget the silent plight of many wealthy people who may be experiencing their own versions of poverty. We must resist automatically dismissing the rich as corrupt or thieves; this helps no one. Let us call to mind Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and King Saint Louis IX. All of them were wealthy, but reached sanctity by using their gifts for the glory of God and in service to others. It may be surprising to observe how much good is done by today’s well-to-do. So, as we move forward as a Church, let us never leave anyone behind, assuming that the affluent are fine alone in their golden castles. They are just as crucial in the life of the Church and equally vital in God’s grand design.

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This article was originally published on www.clarifyingcatholicism.org, a website committed to demystifying Catholic doctrine. Please be sure to check out their site, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more great content!

Luke Parker is studying architecture and civil engineering at the Catholic University of America. He loves to think/write about what is transpiring in our culture and how that relates to our faith. Besides writing, he loves to draw, travel, and come up with tormenting puns.

Image: Brideshead Revisited (1981)

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1 thought on “The Cry of the Rich”

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    You make a good point in emphasizing that material wealth does not necessarily lead to spiritual wealth. How many more depressed, drug addicted celebrities do we need to hear about before we realize that? And it can be too easy for the Church and society to dismiss the importance of the emotional & spiritual needs of the wealthy. They are still people, with cares and concerns. And corrosive, mean spirited jealousy of the rich…that’s a tale as old as time.

    But I think you propose a false dichotomy when you say ” We ask much of the wealthy to “do their part” and “pay their fair share.”…We may find, however, that we are taking for granted the well-being of our wealthy brothers and sisters.”

    Asking the rich to shoulder a larger tax burden does not preclude them from a having a good level of spiritual well being. Indeed I say it doesn’t even affect it, unless they’re unduly attached to their material wealth.

    And oftentimes governments aren’t simply advocating to increase the tax rate but to close sizeable tax loopholes that only the wealthy know of and qualify for.

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