Catholic Social Teaching: It’s Time to End the Misrepresentations

I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding sex and marriage is one thing, in that old-fashioned trinket box over there, while Catholic teaching regarding stewardship and our duties to the poor is another thing, on that marble pedestal over here.

I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding the Church and her authority is one thing, the embarrassing Latinate red-edged tome tucked away in that closet, while Catholic teaching regarding the laity is another, and pass that bread this way!

No, it is all of a piece.  What the Church says about divorce is inextricable from what she says about the poor.  What she says about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is inextricable from what she says about the respects in which all men are created equal—and the many respects in which she insists upon a salutary inequality.

When we fail to see the integrity of the faith, not only do certain truths escape our notice; the rest, the truths we think we see, grow monstrous, like cancers, and work to destroy the flesh they once seemed to replace.

Read more from Anthony Esolen at Crisis Magazine

Does the “W” in LCWR (as in Leadership Council of Women Religious) actually stand for “wacko”?

The Charlotte diocesan newspaper reported:

Sister Campbell questioned many Catholics’ focus on that one issue [abortion], criticizing the pro-life movement as not considering the entire spectrum of Catholic social teaching, but then she acknowledged that “progressive” Catholics like herself have contributed to the discord between pro-life and pro-social justice Catholics.

Editor’s note: As if “the entire spectrum of Catholic social teaching” would somehow permit abortion, in some case or another? Absolutely not! To which Catholic Church does this sister belong … or think she belongs?

“I have allowed a very narrow perspective on what is life, because I actually feel like I’m going to develop a rash or something if I use ‘life’ in that broader sense,” she said.

Editor’s note: That’s not a rash, sister. That’s the Holy Spirit convicting you of the serious error of your ways! Please explain what “life in that broader sense” might actually mean. Is that leftist code for “it’s OK to kill babies for the sake of personal convenience?”

She has avoided framing social justice concerns as “pro-life” issues, she said, “because I don’t want to be thought of as in (the pro-life) camp. Because of my pride, as opposed to my faith.

Editor’s note: This coming from someone who obviously has more faith in her pride than in the only Church that was ever personally founded, authorized, empowered and eternally guaranteed by Jesus Christ, while he still walked the earth. Sister, if you’re not pro-life, you’re pro-abortion. Why not just admit it?

“We need “to reclaim the fullness of our faith,” she said. We need to go beyond left vs. right, socialist vs. capitalist, she said: We are Catholic.

Editor’s note: Amen, sister! That’s exactly what the Vatican is saying. So why are you appearing at a leftist Catholic venue in order to shamelessly demagogue the issue?

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The Kingship of Christ over All Human Societies: Modern Catholic Social Teaching on the separation of Church and State

The Apostolic letter Post tam Diuturnas and the later encyclical Quas Primas were both explicitly hostile to eighteenth-century notions of the separation of Church and State.  In Arcanum and elsewhere, Leo XIII envisioned the Church and the State as working together:  “If civil power combines in a friendly manner with the spiritual power of the Church, it necessarily follows that both parties will greatly benefit.”  St. Pius X was outspoken on the issue, and Pius XI asserted that the “Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs” was a “grave error.”  Casti Connubi is quite fulsome in its expressed desire that the State will “assist” the Church by creating laws that protect all those matters that we now identify with “the culture of life,” including the discouragement of divorce and birth control.

Papal statements denouncing any assertion for the “separation of church and state” are uniform in the eighteenth through twentieth centuries.  A summary of early statements can be found in the “syllabus” collected by Bl. Pius IX and promulgated in Quant Cura.  This encyclical and its syllabus were referenced throughout the first half of the twentieths century.  It contains a group of errors related to Church-State relations, all soundly condemned.

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The Catholic Social Principle of Subsidiarity

One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.

This is why Pope John Paul II took the “social assistance state” to task in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. The Pontiff wrote that the Welfare State was contradicting the principle of subsidiarity by intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility. This “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”

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Introduction to Catholic social teaching, Rev. Raymond de Souza

by Chris Armstrong

…After the war, there was a human rights revolution in the thinking of the church. Facing the horrors of totalitarianism, there was a shift in emphasis: defense of human person, dignity, rights was essential. Universal declaration of human rights made after war. State no longer as in Aquinas’s time, a sacral actor: a thing thought of as exercising benign influence, but the source of evil, malign forces. Emphasized in documents of the 1960s: Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, Vat II emphasized religious liberty—a contested concept! Right to worship God freely! 1965 Dignitatis Humanae Personae.

Then toward end of 60s, shift to another problem that emerged: world that seemed to have prosperous, advancing societies, and those left behind with nothing. 1967, Paul VI, looked at question of income and equality. Not everyone sharing in fruits and goods of earth: focus on development, redistribution of wealth.

Then key figure, JP II, in social teaching of Catholicism: 27 year papacy. And lived in totalitarian world—came out of that. Three encyclicals: first: defense of right of workers, similar to that of Leo XIII. More deeply into anthropology of work: man’s work shapes him. Attacked communism not so much on loss of liberties, but mistakes about work: work is to be controlled by state to liberate man. NO man liberates through work, broadly speaking. Fundamental part of man’s liberty is exercised in his work, understood in broadest sense. Work is an expression of liberty. We use our intelligence in our work, gift of God. Our creativity is being applied, which is in the image of God.

Then a few  years later, the “Concern for the things of the social order” encyclical: Right to economic initiative. Sollicitudo rei socialis, 1987. Liberty not just in political, cultural, religious spheres. Also right to economic initiative—a liberty proper to man in his economic work, which should not be stifled by state. That expression is new. The idea goes back a long time. And the idea of entrepreneurship (Acton involved in this) affirmed for the first time here too.

Then Centesimus Annus, 1991, defense of free economy, as he calls it. Economic liberty exercised with others: if you mean this by capitalism, then that is good. But if you separate economic liberty from all other liberties—freedom to exploit—then that is not a Christian vision.

Wrapping up: that’s where things stood. Enter Benedict XVI, 2005. Not a lawyer like Pius XI, Leo XIII, not a historian like ____, not a diplomat like _____, not a philosopher like JPII, but a gifted theologian. That’s the exception. That’s unusual. Maybe never in history of church is the successor of Peter also the most accomplished theologian alive. He starts with a theological point on social teaching: the basic reality that ought to characterize our social relations is charity. Usually Catholic social teaching had started with justice. Ubi caritas, not ubi justitio. Where there is charity, there is God. Not where there is justice.

This is a challenge, therefore. For Christians, he says, we must start with charity. We wouldn’t disagree, but it’s a challenge to the way things has been done….

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Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (USCCB)

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Part sociologist, part pit bull, all Catholic

HAMDEN – Anne Hendershott looks as though she’s ready for a game of tennis, has a smile that brightens a room, and goes straight for the jugular when she’s defending her faith in writing.

“Sometimes I wish I could be a little more subtle, but sometimes you just need to be in their face,” the conservative sociologist from Milford explained with a laugh.

During a recent chat at a Hamden coffee shop, Dr. Hendershott said she looks at many issues in light of Catholic social teaching. When she is curious about or bothered by what she sees, she writes a book or fires off articles or opinion pieces.

She writes a lot.

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