Economic Justice for All
Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy
U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986
123. More specifically, it is the responsibility of all citizens, acting through their government, to assist and empower the poor, the disadvantaged, the handicapped, and the unemployed. Government should assume a positive role in generating employment and establishing fair labor practices, in guaranteeing the provision and maintenance of the economy’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, harbors, public means of communication, and transport. It should regulate trade and commerce in the interest of fairness . Government may levy the taxes necessary to meet these responsibilities, and citizens have a moral obligation to pay those taxes. The way society responds to the needs of the poor through its public policies is the litmus test of its justice or injustice. The political debate about these policies is the indispensable forum for dealing with the conflicts and tradeoffs that will always be present in the pursuit of a more just economy.
Government should assume a positive role ..
As I read it, this is a recommendation and one that makes perfect sense. The Catholic Church continues to do outreach to the poor but it helps when government also does its share. The problem, as I understand, is when Church organizations accept government funding at which point the government is then empowered to make demands on the organization. The one example that comes to mind is Catholic Charities adoption program where the government in England and in the state of Massachusetts now dictate that homosexuals have an equal right in adopting available children. Is this what you were referring to as well?
This policy statement goes on to say:
124. The primary norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the “principle of subsidiarity” cited above. This principle states that, in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice exceed their capacities. These does not mean, however, that the government that governs least, governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as that which truly “helps” other social groups contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as “the occasion requires and necessity demands” . This calls for cooperation and consensus building among the diverse agents in our economic life, including government. The precise form of government involvement in this process cannot be determined from abstract. It will depend on an assessment of specific needs and the most effective ways to address them.
If you read Catholic forums, etc you can see the interpretation of this is that a Catholic should vote for the candidate that will use the governments resources to carry out the social responsibilities of the church. I do not think that is what the Bishops intended, and my point is that they haven’t clearly communicated that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is not acceptable just because that candidate will also enact legislation to help the poor etc, and they have allowed a situation to evolve where it is far too easy to pay taxes and vote and not take any responsibility for the outcome. They also have given up the ability to manage the results to protect and advance the role of the church.
There should be clear teachings and guidance on this, and my point is that by “copping out” and saying the government can handle everything , the voter can “feel good” about their choices, even though they have facilitated evil.
Just read any forum discussion about Universal health care (which you know will come with paid abortions etc) Democrat Catholics use this as the main reason that they support pro-abortion candidates.
I say take the issue off the table and have the Church take responsibility for these issues ( poverty ,health care etc) and as a result I think the Church should work to prevent the government from getting involved, because as these issues are determined to be he responsibility of government, the Church loses influence and funding in the actual practice, which is how you end up with government financed abortion, or anti- family policies, or in the extreme , anti-religion policies being bundled in with the social programs.
The interesting thing is the Bishops got it right when they said . “in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. “
I propose that the current menu of “social justice” programs enacted by the federal government would not exceed capacities of the church if our tax dollars weren’t sent to the government in the first place.
This is why I think a responsibility has been abdicated.
AN this is how you end up with elected officials like Nancy Pelosi who are doubly dangerous ; they are misinformed regarding the role and responsibility of the church vs government , and are willing to use the power of the government to tax and redistribute wealth to do things that private organizations should be doing, and in so doing think they are being good Catholics.