Skip to comments.A Pastoral Opportunity Lost? (USCCB pastoral message on the economy)
Posted on 12/26/2012 3:50:31 PM PST by NYer
At their annual November meeting, the U.S. bishops failed to approve a pastoral message on the economy. The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times was approved by a clear majority of the bishops voting, but objections raised in large part by retired bishops were sufficient to deny the document the supermajority it needed.
All of which strikes me as a lost opportunity.
No doubt the draft document could have been improved; any ecclesial document can be improved (if you doubt that, try reading Vatican IIs Decree on the Means of Social Communication without taking a long winters nap). What was so striking about The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times, however, was that it was different: it was the work of pastors, not policy wonks; it anchored its reflections in the gospel, not in the dismal science; and in a public environment becoming ever more secular, it used terms like sin and virtue to describe our present circumstances, what led us into them, and what might lead us into a better future.
It was, in other words, a pastoral reflection, bringing to bear on complex public questions the special expertise of pastorswhich does not include public policy prescription. Everything about our lives, the document urged, has to be read in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The main actors in the U.S. economy dont typically read the economy that way; the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve certainly dont. But bishops should. And it has to be asked whether those bishops who objected to The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times havent quite caught on to the New Evangelization, in which the Church measures everything in light of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus (our) Lord (Philippians 3:8).
In that light, as the draft document notes, certain things come into clearer focus.
In the light of the gospel, we recognize that there is great dignity and honor in human work, such that chronic underemployment and unemployment are grave spiritual and moral issues, because they deprive men and women of the opportunity of exercising (our) human gifts and putting them at the service of the wider community.
In that light, we begin to understand that the collapse of a robust marriage culture in America has had harsh effects on economic life, even as the stresses of economic hard times further weaken families. And we can understand that a culture of life and justice, including economic justice, will not be possible without a culture of strong marriages and families.
In the light of the gospel, we can, as the draft document notes, more deeply appreciate the kind of character formation that governs everything in economic life from how a young mother pays her grocery bill on time to how experienced investors use the money others have entrusted to them.
In that light, we can understand (as too much of the U.S. government seems not to understand) that the social charity of the Church is not some extraneous aspect of our identity and mission as Catholics, such that it can be conscripted by the state for its purposeseven if those purposes (like the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortifacient drug mandate) directly contravene moral truths we know from both the gospel and from reason.
And finally, in the light of the gospel, we can understand, after a rather dismal political season in which both parties avoided the v-wordvirtuelike the plague, that todays economic difficulties are not only about the measurables that appear in Labor Department statistics; those difficulties touch questions of the character of the American people.
The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times ended with a profound profession of faith: The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, continues to offer us the truth that sets us free and grounds our place and purpose within the circle of human affairs. That, at least, is a statement that cannot be improved upon. In the future, the bishops would do well to keep it as the sheet-anchor of their address to public life.
They can not even pretend that they did not bite, hook, line, and sinker into all the LBJ programs. For all the poor nonwhite peoples who had been abused by all the white republicans over the centuries (sic). They made it sound as if the Almighty himself had written the Great Society infrastructure.
Among them programs for welfare for illegitimate children and their feckless parents. To the extent that it became a reasonable career choice for a poor single female to have serial births and accumulate payments sufficient to support her and her immediate family. For millions of families, forever.
Not satisfied there, they championed the immigration of illegals from poor countries, and their full government support, regardless of their ability to support themselves, to the extent that we have several competing welfare cultures in the US, from abroad, which are hostile to Christianity.
In the political realm, they championed the Rat candidate over the Republican, every time, since the time of the satyr Kennedys, calumniating the GOP as heartless, racist, and uncharitable persons, praising the socialist Dems as welcoming and charitable.
Not satisfied with that, they allowed, from the diocesan level to the highest levels of the Vatican, a lavender mafia that infiltrated and promoted the gay agenda and immorality in general, so that even marriage itself is now in jeopardy worldwide.
Not satisfied there, they hid the perverts and child molesters among them in the guise of avoiding scandal, in the process creating a mega-scandal so big that it threatens the Church itself.
So here we are now, with the family destroyed, with half the embryos aborted in an on-going fashion, to the tune of a million innocent souls a year, and half to three quarters of the survivors of this massacre left as bastards in the homes of unmarried single parents. The Bishops still spew out their seamless garment social justice sewage, the law is overridden roughshod, the illegitimate grow up to have illegitimate children of their own, and the priests and bishops praise the Democrats for their morality and their charity, and mock and condemn the GOP for turnings its back on the poor.
Now they come to us, hat in hand, scratching their heads, wondering what went wrong.
Flush out your brains, clergy.
YOU have presided over this social deterioration. You approved of it every step along the way. You have also recently approved of Obamacare.
Proof of your stupidity, you were surprised when Obamacare immediately turned out to threaten your Church, the one you pretended to lead.
There will be Hell to pay for the relationship you have held and encouraged longtime with your flocks and the Rats.
And there is not a thing you can do to credibly deny it.
A good summation of why I ignore everything that comes out of their mouths.
"Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our Catholic faith. As Catholics, we believe that human life and human dignity are inherently sacred. As such, we have an enduring duty of commitment to the poor and to the most vulnerable.
Catholic Social Teaching is the way we, as Catholics, live out God's greatest commandment:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Catholic Social Teaching calls all of us to reach out and build personal relationships with those in most need of mercy and justice. It also calls us to inspire and defend the sacred dignity of the human person, while also promoting the common good."
Pope Benedict XVI (at age 85, I believe) has done a great job of motivating and expediting the retirement of many questionable U.S. bishops at the "mandatory" bishop retirement age of 75.
It is too bad that he can't also gently push those same questionable (now retired) bishops to also somehow retire their anti-Church-teaching mouths and votes in matters like this as well.
(Perhaps they can all be re-deployed in the valued role of cloistered prayer warriors in distant (foreign) monasteries, or something like that.) :-)
If the Bishops who objected are the retired ones, they're likely the same sort who gave us the inane statements in the past 25 years that DID sound wonkish, and had more to do with the social justice notions of the Democrat Party than those of Jesus. Too bad they're still exercising any measure of control.