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Food for the Poor Godspy.com: Faith at the Edge


Angelo Matera

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
Angelo Matera | 31 posts | Member since 11.11.07


RE: Scholar sees a Catholic in the Bard
It's too bad, but I don't think more interpretations by literary experts about the hidden Catholic meaning in Shakeespeare's work is going to sway the experts, who are hopelessly biased. It's going to take objective proof that Shakespeare was Catholic: the discovery of his diary, or something like that.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Joe: I'm surprised I've never heard of you, and your bio seems almost too good to be true. But I promise I'll look into your campaign. If you're for real, what you're doing shoud be shouted from the rooftops.

RE: Letting Bill Clinton Off Easy
I think that clearly there's a lot of agreement within pro-life circles on how to communicate the message, and there's no question that one reason that public opinion on abortion has been slowly shifting to the pro-life side (and the number of abortions has been coming down) is the compassionate outreach to women in trouble through the hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers around the country. That's one of the big stories that the media has under-reported. That said, I do think one of the more important points Marion made was about public perception of the abortion tragedy - that people know a life is being ended but that it's a tragic response to a bad situation, and that given a choice it's better for a child not to be born than to come into a world unwanted, or for a woman to have her life disrupted. Research from groups like the Caring Foundation showed that many women viewed the choice as either the death of the child, or of their own life. That's not to justify it, but to explain it. While 4d sonograms and other scientific developments are helping to confirm the humanity of the unborn, and that is leading more women to choose life, there is a large segment of the public who is pro-choice (at least in the early stages of pregnancy) because they view these situations as tragic but beyond solution. This part of the problem won't be solved unless and until Christians build a civilization of love here in the US, which makes tangible the sort of hope that Pope Benedict wrote about in his last encylical. We should fight to change the law, no matter what, because it's wrong, but unless we also change the culture and change hearts, abortion will go underground, and we'll have a situation here similar to the one in many Latin American countries where abortion is illegal but the abortion rate is higher than in Europe, where it's legal (although restricted to a greater extent than here).

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
To both Damon and Freethinkingtheist: I'm not at all advocating withdrawing from politics; on the contrary, refusing to accept the choices served up by the political parties is meant to shake up the system so that a full Catholic/Christian vision of the good society might enter the debate. It's a way to engage the process more forcefully. Maybe this can be done while choosing sides, but until we threaten not to participate, and at the same time articulate the reasons for our opting out, the parties will continue to treat the "Catholic vote" as a collection of single issues, and it will be business as usual.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Dear Chassup: Since unlike Iraq, we're not a sectarian or tribal society, I don't think that analogy works here. And even here, the "Catholic vote" is not an actual voting bloc, as blacks, hispanics, even Jews, tend to be, in very different ways, and to various degrees (some based on single issues, like Israel). So the stakes are not so high. But that the stakes are not high is part of the problem, at least for someone whose identity is based on being a member of the Church, who takes the judgements of the Church very seriously. I recognize that this is not the case for most Catholics; most don't derive their political identity from the Church. They either identify strongly with a party, and for them, what I've written in this post doesn't apply, or, they decide as individuals, political consumers, taking a cafeteria approach to politics. I don't use the word "cafeteria" disparagingly. The fact that there are cafeteria Catholics is in many ways a failure of the Church, the same failure that makes Catholic Social Teaching so little known, and a non-presence in the political process. John Allen wrote recently that for Catholics to organize politically, to form a "Center Party" as in Germany in the 19th century, is a non-starter. It might seem that way, and maybe he meant only in the short term. But I don't agree. Anything new seems futile at first, but unless seeds of change are planted, nothing new ever happens.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
I've ventured into dangerous territory here, and should clarify: I'm not advocating a Cathoiic political party. As Pope Benedict made clear in his recent encyclicals, the Church doesn't get directly involved in poltics. It provides guidelines for judging social justice. That means no "Catholic" party. However, there is a long and relatively positive history of Christian Democratic parties around the world. It was such parties, led by Catholic visionaries like Konrad Adenaur, Alcide de Gaspari, and Robert Schumann, that rebuilt Europe after WWII. There's even a nascent US party called the Christian Democratic Union that links itself to this movement. I have no idea if they're serious, or fringe. The interesting thing about Christian Democracy is that it has two "founders"- one Catholic: Pope Leo XIII, and the other evangelical: Dutch neo-calvinist Abraham Kuyper. I've always thought the Democratic party was where such a movement could take root, but the success of Mike Huckabee triggered this articlein the Wall Street Journal, sounding the alarms bells about Christian democracy invading the Republican party.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Dear Gypsey Boots-- Thanks for your comment. Yes, McCain has been courageous here. I was referring to the reality that the Republican party is probably going to have to reflect a harsh anti-immigration stance this November. On Immigration, Archbishop Chaput has probably done the most to strike a balance on the issue. The Church is not for open borders, however, as with any other issue, the Gospel and the dignity of the human person must be the guiding principle here. I refer you to this statement by Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio. Dear Eric: Thanks for your comment as well. See above on immigration. On voting, you're thinking like a political consumer, and the fact that our political system has reduced voting to consumerism is the problem. But that's not how democracy is supposed to work, according to Aristotle and St. Thomas, as Alasdair MacIntyre explains in his work. His critique of liberal demoracy is very lofty stuff. To me, one version goes like this: Real democracy would produce candidates who would bubble up based on genuine citizen deliberation at more primary levels. Instead, we have a top down system that is dependent on money, with one result being that certain positions and approaches never get opn the table. To say that the interests are the people is simplistic. The interests get to be powerful and/or large either through financial power, or through mass appeals that are crass and simplistic. I know, because I am a long-time direct marketing consultant who has worked with the largest mailers in the country. The medium determines the message, and subtle doesn't work. Subtle works better on a human, local level, and until we find a way to revive and incorporate that approach, we will continue to experience political dissatisfaction. This requires a real revolution in how we live and govern together, and it might seem futile to even think about, but as Christians our minds and hearts are supposed to be informed by the Gospel. Our time frame is eternity. But back to your question, the purpose of voting is to influence the common good, and if rejection of the false 2-candidates choice in order to call attention to an alternative is the best way to express that, then so be it. On mortgage deliquencies and credit card debt, he Church has never condoned any and all "financial acts between consenting adults.' For instance, a wage contract freely entered into is not necessarily just. In both cases, regulation could have protected against deceptive, outrageously usurious rates being imposed on unsuspecting borrowers. In the case of people who knowingly took on too much debt, yes, it is the government's role, to some extent, to protect people from bad choices, because we are our brothers' keepers. I, for one, am obligated as a Christian to not let people destroy themselves, and that being the case I'm going to vote for protections that will keep that from happening.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
As a gut check for myself, last night I read Pope John Paul II's Letter to Families and it confirms what I wrote here. The "civilization of love" that is proposed by the Church calls us to create a society that is much more radically Christian -- and more charitable towards the poor and the weak -- than our current society. It also affirms that the family, built on the self-giving complementarity of persons that is marriage between a man and woman, is the basic building block of such a society. If you care about social justice, you must care about protecting the natural family. Thsi doesn't mean we don't welcome "unconventional" families -- stuff happens -- it just means we don't downgrade the ideal, which has an important function. To Panther97 and Eric: I didn't accuse anyone of not being Catholic. The extent to which we adhere to the Church's mission is based on grace, and I judge no one. All is grace. What I'm doing is expressing what my conscience tells me about what the Church teaches about a just social order. Again, reading JPII last night only confirmed this. The Church has said that its social doctrine is an important part of the Good News. To Chassup: Gven the radical words of the Gospels I would be careful how I would use the word "gatecrasher." 2,000 years of Church teaching on "the universal destination of goods" is clear. The goods of the earth belong to God, and are meant for all his children, and we only hold property in trust because this serves the common good, human nature being what it is. But if people are starving at our doorstep we are OBLIGATED to share what we have. And in the case of illegal immigrants, who come here to work, there is less reason to refer to them negatively. I refer you to St. Thomas Aquinas, from his Summa about "Whether it is lawful to steal through stress of need?" "In cases of need all things are common property, so that there would seem to be no sin in taking another's property, for need has made it common... ...Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is impossible for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one is entrusted with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of them he may come to the aid of those who are in need. Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another's property, by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Dear Chassup-- One responsible response to the reality of Lazarus at our border is a guest worker program that regularizes the situation. Having said that, there are people to my left (I hate to use that term, but it will have to do) who believe that such programs lead to systematic exploitation of workers. That would need to be addressed. My point is that recognizing our obligations here does not require "open borders" or a disregard for the law. The law needs to be changed to accommodate the situation. We can't accommodate the "reality" of illegal abortions because killing the innocent is always wrong. However, recognizing the reality of illegal immigration is different - it does not require Christians to violate fundamental human rights, but only to balance the rights of the state with a respect for the dignity of every person. There is plenty of room for debate without crossing over into positions that are just not compatible with the Gospel.

RE: None of the Above: The Only Vote Worth Casting in November?
Dear Eric-- Yes, you're right that the application of church teachings can vary depending on how we each understand particular circumstances. Two points: (1) You say "I believe that the poor are better served by those of us around them who take responsibility for them, rather than by a government program." That's fine. But that has to be a conclusion that you arrive at after applying the Church's objective principle that all people have a right to what they need to live. If you believe that cutting government programs will not lead to greater suffering, then fine. But your preference can't be based on other criteria that have nothing to do with the Gospel. An example here is that some conservative Christians rely on the spur of poverty to whip people into moral shape. That's not Christian. A similar mentality led England not to intervene during the Irish potatoe famine, letting hundreds of thousands starve. They were also influenced by the social darwinism of the time. Also, when you advocate applying your prudential judgement, realize that the Church allows the same sort of freedom when it comes to voting for a pro-choice candidate. You can't vote for someone because they are pro-choice, but you can vote for them despite their pro-choice position, for proportionate reasons. You must inform your conscience, but then you are free to make that decision. There are conservatives who want the freedom to go their own way on, say, less gov't, but who get upset at the idea that some liberals believe the number of abortions will come down if liberal social policies are enacted. So while you're right, remember that liberal Christians (I'm not on that side either, having chosen to oppose both candidates) can use the same principle in making their choice.

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