MM: I only point out that the Church has other ways to minister to the poor; and they have done so for 2000 years. They do distribute charitable giving, voluntarily donated.
One problem is that their core philosophy is such that they really don't want the poor to cease to be poor - they love the poor for being poor.
It is better to teach a man to fish.
Not to be picky, but that saying isn't from the bible or the church. It was either coined by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919) in her novel, Mrs. Dymond (1885) (see Wikonary.org) or it is an old Chinese proverb. And the church isn't about teaching people to improve their positions, it is about telling others to sacrifice what they have to give to those who have less. (I suspect that one of the reasons they hate the Communists isn't just Communism's atheist position, but that Marx was about 'from those according to their ability to those according to their need." Kind of stealing the Christian gig.)
"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, you can get rid of him on weekends."
Ferengi Proverb: If you sell a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you've lost a paying customer.
"Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in the boat and drink beer all day.”
My problem with most charity and altruism and our current society is the downward looking perspective. It shouldn't be "teach" it should be an expectation that people find a way to learn. Effective teachers always are known by their high expectations. But our culture looks at those who contribute the least and shape the focus and structures towards that lower common denominator - instead of looking at the heros, the efficatious, the doers and telling anyone who has the sense to listen, "Be like that, do like that." It is a difference in psychology that makes a world of a difference in teaching. Raised expectations trigger positive growth from those who experience it - its the way we're made. Most charity, and most of today's 'teaching' is an unintended reinforcement and reward of being less.
But back to the church. If you look at their earlier history, they weren't so much ministering to the poor as ruling them, terrifying them, even putting them on the rack. They were the witch doctor who partnered in power with feudal tyrants while the peasants lived in fear. And later the Vatican played a part in helping the Nazi war criminals escape with an underground railroad of sorts - that's not apropos of anything particular in this thread, but that the Nazi regime was more Catholic than the church would like to admit and the Church was more in sympathy with the slaughter of the Jews back then than they'd like anyone to know. Had Germany won the war, I suspect that we would have seen a new partnering in power, with the church being the witch doctor for the facist Attilas.
My point here is that all the shiny benevolence that is seen glowing from Rome, is recent PR resting upon a long tradition of scrubbing history. When the Catholic church has had the political power, its rule has never been benevolent. And in many country where the majority of the population are devote Catholics, we see countries where an elite rule and the rest live lives that remind one of peasants. No matter what good chartiable endeavors the church is engaged in locally or otherwise, there is a rotten and festering epistemology and ethics that is at the core of institution. And, it does as all good con men do, it never ceases to paint itself as good and hide its evil doings. It is the facade that makes its existence possible. Look at it as a large Trojan Horse, painted attractively but hiding danger within for those who bring it inside their moral gates.
It is my belief that the church rides on the backs of the good intentions and good hearts of the average follower and it will take advantage of any power that current politics or social popularity might allow.
I'm not opposed to voluntary charitable giving. But, I think that when it is administered by dedicated altruists whose psychology is tainted by sacrifice as a goal it will be far less effective, and we've certainly seen that. People who take an honest joy in helping others, and who aren't motivated to wallow in misfortune, but instead want to find effective ways to help those who can be helped will adopt practices that work - a secular approach - no matter whose auspices it occurs under.
Today, as I said, no special merit exists in singling out one group of mystics over another. You might as well excoriate Wiccans and Quakers.
Look at it like epistemological whack-a-mole. When one pops us - i.e, becomes visible in current events, we who value reason should admister a good solid blow (intellectually of course, no advocacy of force implied here). And it isn't just about mysticism. There are degrees of evil and I'd say the epistemology and ethics shown to be at the core of the Catholic church warrant a greater bashing than the Wiccans or Quakers.
And, I still find it peculiar that you are riding to the defense of the Catholic church... and with such feeble arguments as an implied 'why not go after Wiccans or Quakers?', as if the existence of other mystics means the Catholics get a free ride, or they administer to the poor, or collectivists are better at organizing! (Actually, the business of collectivists being better at organizing is only true when it isn't about producing objective values - the Nazis organized well, Obama and others were 'good' community organiziers, but those aren't the same as the organizing that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates achieved.)