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Judge economic success by the common good, Pope says

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  1. ... Although, I rest in perfect peace in the Church's position on all matters moral and spiritual, the Pope's words on matters of political economic philosophy only further the Church's complete confusion on these issues.
    ... Pronouncements of undefined, vague blending of liberty and socialism add absolutely nothing to these crucial discussions.
    ... Jesus would NEVER have demanded the use of the force of the state to redistribute earnings. The role of the state should be to protect and defend our right to our earnings. It is the role of the Church to inspire true charity and generosity.
    ... This is a crucial distinction.
    ... Christians should be clearly on the RIGHT, and not supporting the socialist Left- moral, socially, or economically.

  2. Northern Exposure01 May, 2010

    If only the matter could be decided so easily between the left and right! The Church’s social teaching is a subset of its moral teaching. Moral goods include solidarity with the poor and the alleviation of the injustices which cause poverty. A good society, in other words, is one which cares for its poor and its sick. The Church is promoting a good society, and not just an amoral society of good individuals. Individual freedom is important, but it is not unlimited or absolute.
    Catholic social teaching does not land easily on the left or the right. Rather, it underscores the reductionism and insufficiency of our current ideological categories.

  3. ... Northern: Your post adds nothing to this crucial discussion.
    ... The clear and concrete line between the Right and the Left is whether we endorse the role of the state in FORCING charity and generosity (the Left), or whether the true position of the Church should be to inspire the free actions of individuals towards these ends (the Right).
    ... Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with the Left- whether morally, socially, or economically.

  4. Iain...
    You are clearly unequipped to enter into this discussion. May I suggest you do some homework.

    "Rerum Novarum" Pope Leo XIII (1891)
    "Quadragesimo Anno" Pius XII (1931)
    - emphasized the immorality of keeping economic control in the hands of a few.
    - the principle of subsidiarity, which held that higher levels of authority should act only when lower levels cannot deal with a problem.
    "Centesimus Annus" Pope John Paul II {1991)
    - written in the aftermath of the collapse of communism. Criticized both communism and capitalism and stated the preferential option for the poor.

    It is not so simple as preferring right or left.

  5. Northern Exposure02 May, 2010

    Saving a drowning person from succumbing to the waves is not charity; it is justice. Similarly, saving the poor from starving or freezing to death, and saving the sick from avoidable suffering and death are not charity; tbey are instances of justice. Justice is a societal obligation.

  6. ... Freyr: I have read the above encyclicals thoroughly. Pope Leo X111 was actually the most acutely aware of the evil of socialism, as it's policies were only then being introduced, and thus discussed.
    ... However, all the encyclicals contradict each other from page to page- respecting the right of private property one moment, and ignoring it the next.
    ... Northern: Read carefully what I have written. The issue is not whether charity is a Christian value. The issue is whether it is right to support the FORCING of this value on others- which is socialism (the Left).
    ... The word "justice" is actually meaningless. The Left uses this word to disguise their socialist (forced economic redistribution) agenda.
    ... I believe that true justice is respecting the right of others to their income, and having one's life be an example of true charity and generosity.
    ... Jesus would NEVER have demanded the forcing of all to act charitably. NEVER.

  7. Iain G. Foulds wrote

    "... Jesus would NEVER have demanded the forcing of all to act charitably. NEVER.
    02 May, 2010"

    I have to agree with this comment.

    Liberation theology has been around for some time. It was practiced by some priests in latin America and South America in past decades. What resulted was tragic civil wars in places like Nicarauga and El Salvadore. The teaching that Jesus was a socialist or even worse, would be a supporter of Communism or Marxism, is a gross perversion of what Jesus taught. He never taught that taking the property of others by force and giving it to the less fortunate or poor was right. True charity comes from the heart of the giver.

    However, I would not go so far to say all government social programs are wrong. But I believe one cannot justify Socialism, or any other ism with the Bible simply because that is not the message of the Bible. Jesus did not come to build a "just society" in this world. He said his kingdom is not of this world. The social gospel which has been embraced by many churches of various denominations is not the message of the Bible. I believe it is a misinterpretation of the Bible. I think that churches that have become embroiled in politics and the affairs of this world have lost their way and lost the true message of the Bible. Unfortunately this is all too common today in many denominations.

  8. Northern Exposure03 May, 2010

    Jesus says, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21, RSV) It belongs to Caesar (as well as individuals) to alleviate poverty as much as possible and to ensure that the poor do not fall into destitution (principle of solidarity). This is especially the case when private charity efforts are insufficient, which they frequently are (principle of subsidiarity). It also belongs to Caesar to impose taxes. Therefore, taxation for the sake of alleviating human misery is morally justified.
    Also, please note Matthew 25:31-46. Yes, Jesus wants individuals to be just and charitable, but it is no more improper to speak of a just society than it is to speak of a just law. ALL laws “force” us to do things that we may not otherwise have done.
    Finally, note the frequent references in the Old Testament to laws intended to protect the disadvantaged (e.g., Leviticus 19:9-10).

  9. Northern Exposure03 May, 2010

    To be pro-life (from conception to natural death), pro-family, and pro-social-justice: these are the implications of the Gospel in the public square. If the first two are customarily called “Right” and the third called “Left”, then so much the worse for our secular categories of Left and Right. Our categories need to be rethought. Left and Right, as we currently understand them, are half-truths.

  10. ... Northern: The Right and Left do not need to be re-thought.
    ... Again, Jesus would never have demanded that individuals be FORCED by the state to act charitable. The deceitful label of "social justice" is just socialism- the role of the state forcing money from one citizen to another.
    ... The Church and all Christians should only support true charity- that which is freely given.
    ... Christians should be solidly on the Right- pro-life, pro-family, and pro-economic liberty.
    ... Christians should have nothing to do with the Left- based upon the violation of all these values.

  11. Northern Exposure,

    There is an interesting article which appears to give the biblical point of view on this subject. It says in part:

    "If private ownership and
    wealth were sinful and in themselves
    oppressive to the poor,
    Scripture would condemn these.
    Scripture, however, never condemns
    wealth - it speaks of wealth
    as a blessing, and actually
    protects the concept of private
    ownership. We shall look at a few
    biblical examples which show that
    many today who favour socialism
    are actually using the Bible to
    support their own political views!"

    For the full article:

    From a practical point of view, if wealth were taken away from those who use their wealth to create employment and more wealth by investing their wealth and given out to everyone else as part of socialism, who would be left to produce the wealth?

    Another point mentioned in the article is:
    "The problems with communism
    and socialism begin with their
    rejection of the creation in
    Genesis. With their totally
    materialistic measure of man and
    life these systems continue, from
    this point, to ignore the rest of the
    God-given order of the world.
    While communism has an interest
    in denying religious freedom to
    Christians, this is only a byproduct
    of its faulty view of the

    If you make socialists and communists out of people, they will eventually turn on your religious freedom and attempt to take it away. We see that now in the attitude of many people toward religion in general and christianity in particular. Be careful what you wish for.

  12. Northern Exposure05 May, 2010

    Small Town Guy,

    Thank you for the link to the article.

    You're assuming that I'm defending socialism. I'm not. I'm defending particular points in Catholic social teaching. If some socialists are also saying these things, it is often for entirely different reasons. Socialism, in its various forms, has definite shortcomings, but that is a discussion for another time.

  13. Northern Exposure06 May, 2010

    The biblical view is that wealth is indeed good, since all God’s creation is good, but that wealth is also dangerous. Examples of the Scriptures’ ambivalence on this subject can be found in the following passages:

    Luke 16:1-13
    Amos 8:4-7
    Luke 6:2-4
    Matthew 19:16-26

  14. Northern Exposure06 May, 2010

    I've spotted a typo in my previous message. Instead of "Luke 6:2-4", read "Luke 6:24".


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