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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Eros to Agape and Caritas continued--Catholicism vs. Socialism, Part 4

I am going to skip some of this excellent encyclical and move to more modern considerations, as this is a mini-series on the answer to socialism. Many commentators would agree with the Pope that the influence of Marxism in the world has changed the argument and made it more difficult for the Church to deal with criticisms. However, the Holy Spirit is in the Church and the call to a just social order must be based on what is here and elsewhere called subsidiarity.

Here is the Pope on this: 

Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice. Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity. There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but also much that is mistaken. It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods. This has always been emphasized by Christian teaching on the State and by the Church's social doctrine. Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization of society in the nineteenth century. The rise of modern industry caused the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The relationship between capital and labour now became the decisive issue—an issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means of production were now the new source of power which, concentrated in the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working classes, against which they had to rebel

With the background, the Church responded quickly to the challenge of Marx, with encyclicals coming out only one year after the publication of Das Capital in English. The Popes wasted no time, as the threat of atheism in Italy was growing with the rise of communism. The Pope thinks the overall view was late in coming, but the documents against Modernist heresies set the stage for the later encyclicals. Here is his comment:

It must be admitted that the Church's leadership was slow to realize that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way. There were some pioneers, such as Bishop Ketteler of Mainz († 1877), and concrete needs were met by a growing number of groups, associations, leagues, federations and, in particular, by the new religious orders founded in the nineteenth century to combat poverty, disease and the need for better education. In 1891, the papal magisterium intervened with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. This was followed in 1931 by Pius XI's Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. In 1961 Blessed John XXIII published the Encyclical Mater et Magistra, while Paul VI, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967) and in the Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), insistently addressed the social problem, which had meanwhile become especially acute in Latin America. My great predecessor John Paul II left us a trilogy of social Encyclicals: Laborem Exercens (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) and finally Centesimus Annus (1991). Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. In today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church's social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we live.

I have a kinder view, in that I believe that the great Popes Pius IX and X in their statements against the Italian encroachment of the Vatican States and the Concordats led to more intense political statements of the later popes. However, what is clear is that the Bride of Christ has strong views on the role of the individual and the State, and how government should uphold the dignity of every human being, while calling Christians to task to take care of their neighbours. The Pope refers to Justice, which flows from Love: justice is perhaps one of the most misunderstood virtues in our time.

The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”.[18] Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere.[19] The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.
Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
Now, finally, we get to the core. 

Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.
The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest.

We have moved very quickly from eros to agape to caritas. But the movement of the heart should be the same. If one loves God and His People, politics is part of the result of living in a society which must be just. As the conscience for the State, the Church is necessary for the natural order of rule. Here is the last part of this discussion on justice before the Pope moves back to caritas and justice.

Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.

to be continued....

Notice of Pontifical Mass with H.E. Raymond Cardinal Burke

At the Brompton Oratory
Pontifical High Mass 
celebrated by 
H.E. Raymond Cardinal Burke
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
St Philip’sDay
26 May 2012

Updates on France

Good article from The Telegraph on France....and I updated earlier post with this

As France goes, so goes Europe....prayers, please.

Pray for our sisters

For my sisters, for whom I post and this video, please, and the others below it.

Freedom is not free, but takes hard work, involvement and prayer. Please, do not become complacent, or behave like none of this will effect you in the future. Freedom to be a Christian and witness to the Faith may pass away more quickly than you realize. 

Catholic Parish Life vs. Socialism continued...Part 3

The early Christian community stood out as a loving group of people who took care of each other in daily, temporal needs, as well as spiritual needs. In the encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict, in Part II clarifies this difference. 

Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community. The awareness of this responsibility has had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-5). In these words, Saint Luke provides a kind of definition of the Church, whose constitutive elements include fidelity to the “teaching of the Apostles”, “communion” (koinonia), “the breaking of the bread” and “prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42). The element of “communion” (koinonia) is not initially defined, but appears concretely in the verses quoted above: it consists in the fact that believers hold all things in common and that among them, there is no longer any distinction between rich and poor (cf. also Acts 4:32-37). As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. But its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.

What happened? How did the local Church move away from real community to relying on socialism and the State for carrying for each other needs? I am old enough to remember women in the neighborhood, Lutherans and Catholics, surrounding the woman who had six children and an ill husband. There were no programs for such, as yet, she was taken care of in the 1950s. Now, people assume the government will take care of people-this is socialism. 

A dignified life is now the middle-class dream, and sadly, those who fall into poverty are judged according to Calvinism, to be unholy, or worse, under a curse, instead of an opportunity for charity. I personally know three women who have been homeless this past year. One had her house ruined in a flood. No one in her affluent town helped her with living space or moving. She is in her 70s and lived in a hotel for 20 months. That is a scandal, as many of her parishioners have very large houses with plenty of space. The second woman's flat burnt down and she could not get government housing. At this time, she is still, I think, in a hotel. These women are both active members of Catholic parishes and not one person made room for either. The third woman, a pensioner, was forced to look for cheaper rent in an area where governmental housing has a three year waiting list. The members of the parish wanted to charge her, and I am ashamed to say this, 100 dollars per day for rent, as she was living in a resort town and "that was the going rate". I cannot imagine a pagan saying now, "See how they love one another." None of these women have husbands or families to take care of them. The priest who was trying to help her find housing in the parish gave up and was ashamed of his people, but nothing happened and still has not happened. When I tried to get help for one of these ladies,  the response from all the people in the parish was. "Isn't there a government program for her?" We are living in great need of love in our Church, and it begins with a loving relationship with God.

Certain people avoid the poor as if they have leprosy, letting the State become the Big Mama.

Clearly, the Pope delineates other alternatives. 

A few references will suffice to demonstrate this. Justin Martyr († c. 155) in speaking of the Christians' celebration of Sunday, also mentions their charitable activity, linked with the Eucharist as such. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means, each as he or she wishes; the Bishop in turn makes use of these to support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners.[12] The great Christian writer Tertullian († after 220) relates how the pagans were struck by the Christians' concern for the needy of every sort.[13] And when Ignatius of Antioch († c. 117) described the Church of Rome as “presiding in charity (agape)”,[14] we may assume that with this definition he also intended in some sense to express her concrete charitable activity.

The modern society does not look at the Church and say "See how they love one another."

Now, the Church was more organized in earlier days, and in pioneer days in the States, then it is now regarding real love in action. The deacons had two roles, depending on their call-spiritual and physical. The permanent deaconate in the dioceses where I have lived in the States have been active to a certain extent-one, now retired, was at the food bank he helped to organize. However, this is not usually the case. He was a light in the darkness of selfishness.

Here is the Pope again:

Here it might be helpful to allude to the earliest legal structures associated with the service of charity in the Church. Towards the middle of the fourth century we see the development in Egypt of the “diaconia”: the institution within each monastery responsible for all works of relief, that is to say, for the service of charity. By the sixth century this institution had evolved into a corporation with full juridical standing, which the civil authorities themselves entrusted with part of the grain for public distribution. In Egypt not only each monastery, but each individual Diocese eventually had its owndiaconia; this institution then developed in both East and West. Pope Gregory the Great († 604) mentions the diaconia of Naples, while in Rome the diaconiae are documented from the seventh and eighth centuries. But charitable activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential part of the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles. It found a vivid expression in the case of the deacon Lawrence († 258). The dramatic description of Lawrence's martyrdom was known to Saint Ambrose († 397) and it provides a fundamentally authentic picture of the saint. As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of Lawrence's fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities. He distributed to the poor whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church.[15]Whatever historical reliability one attributes to these details, Lawrence has always remained present in the Church's memory as a great exponent of ecclesial charity.
24. A mention of the emperor Julian the Apostate († 363) can also show how essential the early Church considered the organized practice of charity. As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian. The Christian faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes. Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, while reforming it in the hope of making it the driving force behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests who were to foster love of God and neighbour. In one of his letters,[16] he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him was the Church's charitable activity. He thus considered it essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the Church's charity, an equivalent activity of its own be established. According to him, this was the reason for the popularity of the “Galileans”. They needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, the Church.

What happened? Socialism and the Communist Manifesto leaked into Church leadership and the labor unions, as well as certain political parties in Europe and in America. We were warned by the succession of Popes up to the present day. The answer to socialism lies in the radical living of the Gospel and the intense relationship with Christ every Catholic should have individually, that love relationship which spills out into the parish.

Are Catholics really listening or reading what this Pope and those before have to say about charity, which is from and in God, going out into the community? One person said to me that "God will take care of these people?" Yes, but through His Church, not through some magical means....

25. Thus far, two essential facts have emerged from our reflections:
a) The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.[17]
b) The Church is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas- agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter “by chance” (cf. Lk 10:31), whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10).

This does not and is not happening, especially in socialist countries like Ireland and Great Britain, where the State is the "nanny" and the Catholics bow to this power which they cannot control. Look at the elections yesterday and pay attention to France tomorrow-as France goes, Europe be continued.