In 313 Constantine made Christianity the established religion. He tried to do Roman civilization a favor. But today we’re not sure he did us a favor at all. Because for seventeen hundred years Christianity has largely looked at history and at itself not from the bottom but from the top, from the position of the privileged rather than the oppressed. At times we’ve moved toward the poor. Look at all of our founders, foundresses and saints:
It’s hard to find one who didn’t disestablish himself or herself and move toward the poor. And yet the Church, by and large, canonized these people after their deaths, idealizing the good things they had done but retaining its position of establishment, its position of looking at history and judging history from a position of power and wealth. This doesn’t mean the Spirit was not in the Church, but a great gift was lost to the Church, a great freedom, a great insight. The love of poverty is one of the deepest and most profound blessings of the gospel. Francis saw it. He was able to call that scary thing, poverty, a lady. Until we can call her a lady, I don ’t think we’ve made the discovery so apparent to those at the bottom and those on the edges. All things considered, poverty has a better chance of getting at the truth. The poor woman, the poor man, has nothing to protect.
The richer we are, the more we have to protect and the less free we are to hear anything new or really to understand the old. How much do I have to protect? How much public image, self-image, possessions, security, comforts, future? These tell me how rich and how poor I am.
from Embracing Christ As Francis Did: In the Church of the Poor