Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sorry Bishop...

I have heard the saying on the right not only from good hearted, well meaning Christians, but also from the pulpit, and from the USCCB itself one too many times. Not that they care what I think, but I need to get this off my chest anyway. The problem with the statement is not that it is false, but that it is a straw man. The implied (or often expressed) followup to the statement is that if you are not a communist or socialist, or if you are patriotic, then you don't want people to have healthcare or food. That is not true at all. Let's not confuse lack of support of a government program or political party be confused with a lack of wanting to solve a problem.

Sorry, but government-run healthcare, and in general federal government run programs are NOT part of nor are they even compatible with Catholic social justice. Let me explain.

The catechism defines social justice as:
1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.
and goes on to add
1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:
What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35
1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.
1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity."37 No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.
1932 The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."38
1933 This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.39 Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one's enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy. 
The problem with those words is they are very vague. What is someone's "due"? What rights flow from man's dignity as a creature? It is very easy to interpret those words, as many in the USCCB and in America, as supporting the notion of government run health care, government run education, unrestricted illegal immigration, government run welfare programs - in short a socialist state with nearly unlimited economic control. That is not what the catechism is saying at all.

To see what's really being talked about we need to go read the documents cited in the text above; in particular Pacem in Terris. I encourage the reader to read the whole encyclical, but here are some excerpts (ellipses where I have elided parts of the text for brevity's sake, I have emboldened certain key phrase you can read to skim over this):
11. But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health...
Rights Pertaining to Moral and Cultural Values
12. Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. ... He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.
13. He has the natural right to share in the benefits of culture, and hence to receive a good general education...
The Right to Worship God According to One's Conscience
14. Also among man's rights is that of being able to worship God ... and to profess his religion both in private and in public. ...
The Right to Choose Freely One's State in Life
15. Human beings have also the right to choose for themselves the kind of life which appeals to them...
16. The family, founded upon marriage freely contracted, one and indissoluble, must be regarded as the natural, primary cell of human society. ...
17. Of course, the support and education of children is a right which belongs primarily to the parents
Economic Rights
18. In the economic sphere, it is evident that a man has the inherent right not only to be given the opportunity to work, but also to be allowed the exercise of personal initiative in the work he does
19. ...Women must be accorded such conditions of work as are consistent with their needs and responsibilities as wives and mothers....
21. As a further consequence of man's nature, he has the right to the private ownership of property, including that of productive goods. ...
The Right of Meeting and Association
23. Men are by nature social, and consequently they have the right to meet together...
The Right to Emigrate and Immigrate
25. Again, every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own State. When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there....
Political Rights
26. Finally, man's personal dignity involves his right to take an active part in public life...
27. As a human person he is entitled to the legal protection of his rights,...
Much of it sounds an awful lot like the US Constitution. And if you stop reading the encyclical there you could erroneously come to the conclusion that Pope John XXIII. Sorry for the length of these passages. Same rules as above:
28. The natural rights of which We have so far been speaking are inextricably bound up with as many duties, all applying to one and the same person...
29. Thus, for example, the right to live involves the duty to preserve one's life; the right to a decent standard of living, the duty to live in a becoming fashion; the right to be free to seek out the truth, the duty to devote oneself to an ever deeper and wider search for it.
Reciprocity of Rights and Duties Between Persons
30. Once this is admitted, it follows that in human society one man's natural right gives rise to a corresponding duty in other men; .... Hence, to claim one's rights and ignore one's duties, or only half fulfill them...
Mutual Collaboration
32. ... it is useless to admit that a man has a right to the necessities of life, unless we also do all in our power to supply him with means sufficient for his livelihood.
33. Hence society must...  provide men with abundant resources. ...
Sounds great so far... here's where it all goes south for the USCCB, globalists, etc.

An Attitude of Responsibility
34. Man's personal dignity requires besides that he enjoy freedom and be able to make up his own mind when he acts. In his association with his fellows, therefore, there is every reason why his recognition of rights, observance of duties, and many-sided collaboration with other men, should be primarily a matter of his own personal decision. Each man should act on his own initiative, conviction, and sense of responsibility, not under the constant pressure of external coercion or enticement. There is nothing human about a society that is welded together by force. Far from encouraging, as it should, the attainment of man's progress and perfection, it is merely an obstacle to his freedom.
The encyclical goes on like that for a while. There are a couple of other paragraphs that I would like to point out:
48. Hence, a regime which governs solely or mainly by means of threats and intimidation or promises of reward, provides men with no effective incentive to work for the common good. And even if it did, it would certainly be offensive to the dignity of free and rational human beings. Authority is before all else a moral force. For this reason the appeal of rulers should be to the individual conscience, to the duty which every man has of voluntarily contributing to the common good. But since all men are equal in natural dignity, no man has the capacity to force internal compliance on another. Only God can do that, for He alone scrutinizes and judges the secret counsels of the heart. 
Responsibilities of the Public Authority, and Rights and Duties of Individuals
60. It is generally accepted today that the common good is best safeguarded when personal rights and duties are guaranteed. The chief concern of civil authorities must therefore be to ensure that these rights are recognized, respected, co-ordinated, defended and promoted, and that each individual is enabled to perform his duties more easily. For "to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person, and to facilitate the performance of his duties, is the principal duty of every public authority.
I have a saying along those lines "there is no grace in paying taxes." We have come to a point where people think only in material terms. If we take money from the rich and give it to the poor, that is justice. But that is injustice. The rich man has not done a good act, nor has anyone. And the poor do not need our money as much as our care.

Let me make this perfectly clear. According to the principles of Catholic social justice, the duty of government is NOT to provide for the poor, but to ensure the rights and freedoms of its citizens to do so is respected. The role of the individual is to provide for the poor. Government programs walk over and inhibit the rights and duties of both the provider and receivers of material goods.

Thomas Sowell explains the false notion of social justice more succinctly and elegantly than I can.

Catholic social justice consists of caring for the needs of your neighbor. You, yourself, caring for the needs of your neighbor. Forcing everyone to pay money to a (corrupt) government in the hopes that they will be a moral force is folly, yet the USCCB and other well meaning but ignorant Christians keep fighting for programs like government run healthcare, then are "shocked" and dismayed to find out they have give up the right to life of the unborn and elderly. What exactly did they think would happen?

The USCCB support government programs to stop sex trafficking. Sounds good until you realize that they also receive the money and run some of the programs. Add to that the fact that they oppose border restrictions, ensuring a lively and continued source of sex trafficking and it begins to look less like social justice and more like self serving.

And as someone pointed out, each and every government dollar comes with strings that no religious value be attached to it. So far from preaching the Gospel and fulfilling the great commission to "make disciples of all nations" every time the USCCB endorses a government program rather than taking the initiative and enable Catholics to do the work privately, they restrict and opposes the only legitimate mission they have in the world.

So yes, I do want people to have health care and food. But unlike you I am will to do it myself and unwilling to take money from others by force to give to an organization which disrespects and degrades individuals. What are you willing to do in the name of social justice?


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