Monday, July 16, 2018

Dancing With Mr. D.: The Socialist Impulse

Some 25 years after its collapse in Eastern Europe and Russia, many Americans, especially college-age students, once again see socialism as best amongst political economies, even  American Catholics. Let us remember, though, that Saint John XXIII reaffirmed the instruction of Pope Pius XI that “no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.” Saint John Paul II pointed to “the fundamental error of socialism,” specifically, that it “maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice.” Nevertheless, these days we see good and intelligent people styling themselves “democratic socialists”, or “Christian socialists.” Why?

Many people find socialism irresistible. Life is unfair, as we all know, but unfairness can often be remedied over time, as the American story demonstrates. When one thinks that life is unfair, justice demands a solution. The key questions here: isn’t it the responsibility of government to establish justice? Is it desirable to establish bureaucratic control of social life for the sake of fairness? In a prosperous modern society, does fairness/justice mean that  could include providing everyone should be provided with all things necessary for well-being? A yes answer labels one a socialist at present, never mind the traditional definition of socialism as state ownership of the means of production and distribution. Listening to Bernie Sanders, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, our present view of socialism seems to refer to the open-ended expansion of government activity to redress life’s unfairness.
Historically, has socialism proven efficient? Does it deliver on its promises? The record shows that it offers not “justice” but attempts “equality” and so divests people of responsibility for their situation. History shows that it concentrates power, displaces traditional institutions like family and religion, and makes it impossible for associations independent of a state bureaucracy to exist. The result? A society under a corrupt, ineffective and unchecked government. Since socialism abolishes personal feelings of responsibility, those in government are hardly motivated to sacrifice their personal advantage to for the common good.
If the goal of the socialist state is to guarantee and equalize material goods, including incorporeal goods like social respect, then these will be seen as the greatest social good. If this is the highest good, it will be argued that the country owes them this no matter what their lifestyle. If this is the case, then how concerned will a socialist electorate be about achieving their personal responsibilities?
In my experience, the socialist-minded think  debates about “people’s responsibility for their own situation” is blaming the victim and should therefore not be part of the discussion. Also, if what sustains the institutions of family, local community, and religion is government failure to deal with social injustice, then they are the “opiate of the masses” and are thus unworthy of safeguarding.           
As I argued in my book, the sense of the eternal and transcendent has been waning, leaving social action as the main focus of the Church. Perusal of left-of-center social media sites indicates that bureaucratic management is the preferred way to deal with problems. Socialists argue  the democratic claim that action by the state is action by the people, so genuine Catholics should be socialists, for God’s kingdom for them is all about efforts to advance universal justice.  So—to beguided by historical experience, reason, and the teachings of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, Catholics must change the basic understandings that  lead down the destructive path to present-day socialism. We must come to understand:
  1. Acts of government and acts of the people are two different things. Confusing the former with the latter, history has shown, is the road to totalitarianism and other madness.
  2. Catechesis on the Church’s understanding of man based on classical natural law rather than technology is also in order. Bureaucratizing a society composed of natural institutions like the family and cultural community destroys rather than perfects it.
  3. The Church must renew commitment to bringing about a rebirth of the sense of the eternal and transcendent that places earthly affairs in perspective to be able to deal with them according to the theological virtue of prudence rather than a this-worldly emphasis. As Saint John XXIII noted in Mater et Magistra: “The most perniciously typical aspect of the modern era consists in the absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order divorced from God.” OREMUS.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Dancin' With Mr. D: St. Gallen

On Aug. 31, 2012, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., died at the Jesuit infirmary in Gallarate, near Milan. Before his death Cardinal  Martini eerily called himself an “ante-pope,” a “precursor and preparer for the Holy Father.” (Pope Francis)

Martini was the leading antagonist to Popes John Paul II and Benedict—a Jesuit famous for groaning that the Church was “200 years behind.” In Night Conversations with Cardinal Martini, he cringed at the “major damage” caused by Humanae Vitae. The Church spoke “too much” about the sixth commandment and sin. He said legal abortion was, ultimately, “positive.” Now, we see a diabolical development in this.

Not Everybody Knows

In the book I noted that a grave moral crisis facing the Church, of which the public is misinformed, is not a "pedophile priest" crisis, but a crisis which stems from an inordinate amount of  active homosexuals as ordained priests and some inattentive bishops who have run interference for them, all the consequences of a failure to uphold and live the Church’s sexual moral teaching. For the doubting Thomases out there, please read Rod Dreher's recent piece. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nuns' Story, or Call the Sisters

(Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham / Fr James Bradley)
I have been watching the PBS series, Call the Midwives, which follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. As I observe the way these Anglican nuns are portrayed, it strikes me that they are more like Catholic nuns than many Catholic nuns after Vatican II (see chapter 5 of my book). Thus, the story featured in this post does not surprise me, especially after Pope Benedict's launching of the United States’ ordinariate for disaffected Anglicans seeking communion with the Catholic Church. 

From the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on Nov. 4, 2009:

“In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018

On "Gay" Sex in the Body of Christ

In my book I wrote of Pope Paul’s teaching that Satan is the clever tempter who makes his way into man through the sensual, the libido, a “crack” through which the Evil One attempts to prevail against the Church. When people in the media or elsewhere take issue with Catholic teaching, rarely does it concern the Hypostatic Union, the Vatican’s guidelines on road rage, or the Vatican Conference on Extraterrestrial Life. No, those things with which they take issue bear directly or vicariously on their sexual lives — in this instance, homosexuality. 
Remember Our Lord’s words on this: "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Shepherd Shepherds

Detroit archbishop joins Catholic leaders in condemning family separation at the border

"Even people who have broken the law deserve to be treated with dignity," said Archbishop Allen Vigneron.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border has generated criticism and condemnation.
The so-called "zero tolerance" policy resulted in the separation of 1,995 children from their families during the six-week period between April 16 and May 31. That number is now estimated to be well over 2,000 children. 
This weekend, current first lady Melania Trump as well as all living former first ladies — both Republican and Democrat — spoke out against the policy. 
Christian leaders across denominations have also publicly condemned the measure. 
Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement
“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety,” the statement read. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”
Reverend Allen Vigneron is the archbishop of Detroit, the spiritual leader of more than 1.5 million Catholics in Southeast Michigan. He spoke with Stateside about his views on the policy of separating families and the welfare of migrant children.  
The archbishop echoed statements from other Catholic leaders that separating children from families is highly immoral because of the damage it causes to young children. 
“Imagine the fear that they have being taken from their parents,” he said. "This is a great injury to them here at a vulnerable time in their life.” 
While many religious leaders have criticized the policy, those within the Trump administration have pointed to verses in the Bible to defend strict border control, most notably the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In response, some have pointed out this same scripture was also used to defend slavery
The archbishop said he and all Catholic bishops recognize that the government has the authority to secure national borders. 
“I’m not a political leader. This isn’t the job God gave me to do,” he said. “I’m a pastoral leader, and my job is to articulate solid moral wisdom in these matters. I know that we need to accomplish both the security of our borders, maintaining the rule of law, and at the same time treat people with respect and protect families.” 
The archbishop said political leaders should be putting families first in public policy, and keeping migrant children with their parents would be "faithful to our tradition of treating people with dignity." 
"Even people who have broken the law deserve to be treated with dignity," he added.