(This was set aside in the “draft” folder for almost two years, presented tonight because I still haven’t gotten around to writing up my notes on the homeschooling conference. And I’m a bit obsessive about keeping things neat, and that full folder of unpublished drafts bugs me. And I don’t want to talk about the train wreck that our favorite homeschooler park playdate group just suddenly turned into. Power grabs, Catholic bashing, demands for fees, etc. Very ugly. Anybody know any nice, unapologetically Catholic homeschooler groups in SE Virginia?)
The Catholic Church in this country is seriously astray on social justice issues.
Yes, we still run soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, etc. We have for centuries. The Catholic Church runs hospitals, schools, orphanages, family counseling centers, and financial assistance offices all over the world. It is part of our mission. We don’t demand that people convert, or even require them to sit still for a sermon before we help. If you need help, we’re just about everywhere, ready to help.
However, we also have seen a heavy push in America to encourage the government to take over functions that were so often historically the province of churches and charitable organizations. The recent flap over the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) funding pro-gay, pro-abortion organizations is only the tip of the iceberg. The much larger problem it that the entire goal of the CCHD is not to fund charitable work but to fund lobbying work to encourage the government to spend more on entitlement programs… and that’s not really what they tell the parishoners who are exhorted to donate.
Why is government takeover a good thing? Why is this passing as Catholic teaching?
What happened to exhorting people to be charitable? That’s been as lacking from our pulpit as discussions of abortion. Maybe your parish is better about this than mine, but I’m betting not. This is why the Catholics in public office have such abysmal charity records: they think they did their charity by getting the government to spend my money and yours on welfare and other programs aimed at helping the poor.
I forget where I read it, but a commenter on a related blog post somewhere pointed out that if the USCCB and all the diocesan social justice committees would spend half their energy on more favorable tax breaks for families with children, instead of on socializing welfare after the Church has been repeatedly burned by being forced to provide adoption services for gays or contraceptives in the nuns’ healthcare plan (shouldn’t we know best of anyone what happens when the government takes over?)… well, we could’ve done a lot more good.
The phrase “social justice” was taken from the (mostly) condemned liberation theology movement in Central and South America. (Liberation Theology had originated elsewhere, but it’s worst manifestation in the Catholic Church was in those areas.) Liberation theology seeks to combine Christianity with Marxist economic thought, encouraging class warfare and villifying “the rich” while extolling the virtue of the poor. (I am not denying that voluntarily embracing poverty is a strong witness. But I do not assume that all poor people are virtuous because of their poverty.)
Contrary to those who want to complain that Pope John Paul II “saw communists everywhere” because of his experiences in Soviet-dominated Poland, the truth is that he sought to take what was good and useful from liberation theology (care for the poor, focus not just on poverty but the unjust systems that cause it, etc.). Perhaps some people missed that he also condemned the class warfare, poor-can-do-no-wrong, all-rich-are-damned parts of liberation theology. Unfortunately, some of us ordinary Catholics in the pews have too often had cause to complain that the Marxism is creeping back in, sometimes none too subtly.
(PHW: I just found this post in the bottom of the “draft” folder, never published. I wrote it almost two years ago. Funny how all those pro-lifers saying, “If you accept this universal health care takeover by the government it will bite you in the butt! No matter what they said, it will wind up mandating all legal medical procedures, and you aren’t going to like it, but there will be no way left to fight!” Really, I do NOT enjoy saying, “We told you so…” Maybe, after the current fracas is resolved, the issues of class warfare and the overreach of big government (especially in social justice programs) will be discussed in the Church.)