Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An example of why Catholic Social Justice needs to stay out of the church bulletin.

Last summer I blogged about the social justice column that runs every week in my parish bulletin.
It seems to me that the Social Justice Committee is sort of a political action group that gets to write unopposed opinions in the parish bulletin - not that I want to read political debate in my church bulletin! But other than guiding us to events and ways we can help in the community I kind of wish they would keep the political stuff out of the bulletin.
Since then, with the busyness of life and the holidays rushing upon us, I'm lucky to read the parts I NEED to read in the bulletin. But yesterday I sat down and found an article from the Catholic Free Press, called, The Occupy Wall Street movement and Catholic social teaching, written by Tony Magliano.



More than a couple things bothered me about the column so I decided to fisk the piece a little.

! Recently I became more convinced of this truth after spending a couple of hours with the Occupy Baltimore segment of this now global movement. In front of Baltimore’s pricey Inner-Harbor, I encountered a small tent city ranging from homeless persons to college graduates. Four of them talked with me about why they are there. In the shadow of a skyscraper with huge bold words Bank of America on it, one of the occupiers pointed to it and said “they, and the many other greedy corporations like them, control most of the wealth, while so many of the rest of us have so little.
Um... okay.  Questions spring to mind -

  •  What does he mean "control most of the wealth?" 
  •  Is it a reference to interest rates? loans? 
  • and what about government's regulation of the banks - shouldn't some fingers be pointing in that direction too? Is that what they're protesting? 
  • Aren't people supposed to be responsible when going into debt?  Shouldn't they be held responsible for taking only the loans they can afford to pay back? 



Since the federal government’s bailout of the mega banks and various other large companies, corporate profits have risen to an all time high. And yet, many pay little or no taxes. 

Well actually, almost half of all Americans don't pay any income taxes at all.  
Hedge fund managers and CEO’s are raking in millions, while huge numbers of families continue to lose their homes, 14 million people remain unemployed, 50 million have no health insurance and a record 46 million Americans live in poverty – including 16 million children!

This paragraph seemed like a hodge-podge of everything wrong, rolled up together and and tied up with a "you're a big mean bank" ribbon.  And again more questions...

  • I'm not a banking or hedge fund expert but it seems to me that a lot of people are losing their homes because they got loans that were going to be impossible to pay back and
  • the economy tanked and many lost jobs because of government regulations put in decades ago. 
  • Unemployment remains high because of uncertainty about the election and the economy and taxes.
  • Would like to hear how big banking and hedge funds affect health insurance and the poverty rate.


Blessed Pope John Paul II addressed very strong words to these “structures of sin.” He said, “The all-consuming desire for profit, and … the thirst for power, with the intention of imposing one’s will upon others” is opposed to the will of God! The Catholic social teaching principle known as “the universal destination of the earth’s resources” insists that all people deserve a fair share of creation and the goods of humankind – certainly to the point of having each person’s basic needs entirely met. Pope Paul VI taught that God intends for everyone to adequately share in the goods of the earth, and that all other rights must be subordinated to this truth!

Fair enough. But what about envy and Jealousy?  John Paul had a bit to say about that too:
. It is significant that speaking of the "works of the flesh" (cf. Gal 5:19-21), Paul mentions not only "fornication, impurity, licentiousness...drunkenness, carousing." This is everything that, according to an objective way of understanding, takes on the character of carnal sins and of the sensual enjoyment connected with the flesh. He names other sins too, to which we would not be inclined to also attribute a carnal and sensual character: "idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy..." (Gal 5:20-21). According to our anthropological (and ethical) categories, we would rather be inclined to call all the works listed here sins of the spirit, rather than sins of the flesh. Not without reason we might have glimpsed in them the effects of the lust of the eyes or of the pride of life, rather than the effects of the lust of the flesh. However, Paul describes them all as works of the flesh. That is intended exclusively against the background of that wider meaning (in a way a metonymical one), which the term flesh assumes in the Pauline letters. It is opposed not only and not so much to the human spirit as to the Holy Spirit who works in man's soul (spirit)

Frankly, I think I would be careful before aligning with the Occupy crowd where a number of serious crimes have been committed.    Who has time to occupy anyway if you're working or trying to find work?


The article ends with this:




So much of America’s political and economic system is unjust. And yet for the most part, Catholics are silent. Silence supports the rich and powerful, never the poor and weak! But Catholic social teaching calls us to speak up for the poor and weak. So let us raise our voices together with our courageous brothers and sisters of the Occupy movement. Demand that our do-little Congress significantly raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, drastically cut military spending, stop the wars, create millions of public service jobs, give small businesses – especially green energy companies – job-producing financial assistance, extend the efficiency of Medicare to everyone, pass strong anti-sweatshop legislation and greatly increase poverty-focused assistance to the nation’s and world’s poor!

I'm assuming Magliano is not an economist, but I simply am NOT going to demand higher taxes on the wealthy in this economy. Not everyone thinks that will be the best for the economy, the country, the middle class or the poor. I would support tax reform. Check out:
The American Thinker.
Heritage Foundation.

We are getting out of Iraq.  I'd like to know the solution for human rights violations in Afghanistan after we leave there, but the article doesn't touch on it at all.

Creating more public service jobs just puts more strain on the economy not less.  We need to be more efficient with our government resources and that doesn't mean bigger government!  How about letting the government get out of the way so that the  the economy can come roaring back and create more jobs in the private sector?

Ugh... green jobs.  The deep hole into which money flows.

Want to improve Medicare - Get government out of the health care business!  That will bring prices down and give more choices.

And then Mr. Magliano wants to save the world - well even if he raised all the taxes he wants, it won't get us out of debt - let alone save the world.  



And I'm still wondering why this is running in the parish bulletin unopposed?  This is NOT clear cut Catholic thought and it is NOT ex-cathedra that every Catholic has to support the ideas put forth in this type of rhetoric.

What I would like to see in the bulletin is more about what we can do as individuals in our neighborhoods, city and state to help the poor and the needy, or where we can send our dollars locally  to help someone in need.  That's what I'd like to see a focus on.  

Ironically, this column is usually on the last page and on the other side are all the adds for the parish bulletin - Capitalism - God Bless America.















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