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Social Justice: Take Back the Term from the Thieves and Build a New Catholic Action Comments

Some have begun to use the phrase "Social Justice" in a disparaging manner. They want to expose the error committed by some who have stolen the term "Social Justice" to hide a "leftist" political agenda. There are others who use it but reject the existence of objective moral truths meant to govern our life together. However, some words and phrases must be rescued when they are stolen. Social Justice is such a ... Continue Reading

131 - 140 of 198 Comments

  1. Pete Brady
    4 years ago

    Tony: Moving onto the "healthcare" issue. The "right" to healthcare can be seen as being as viable as the "right" to food/water. No one should go hungry or without water in this land of plenty. Is the government the answer for that "right?" I doubt it. Here, I think, there is room for legitimate disagreement. Some think the government is the answer. I believe that it is resoundingly "the problem." The Church does not overbearingly weigh in on this. It leaves it to the prudential discretion of any one particular society as to how best to address the need. The basic question should be 'why is healthcare so expensive?' Healthcare is as much of a product or service in the marketplace as any other. It has to compete with all other goods and services for the dollar of all participants. Individuals weigh each purchase they make based on the value they attach to them. For some a ticket to the ball game has more value to them than a whole day of truly nutritional meals. That's their view 'today' of "need" versus "want," that's their choice. They made it, they live with the consequences. Most of the "choices" offered in the marketplace are provided without the safety valve of a "guarantee," a guarantee that price will cover costs, that demand will exhaust inventory. If any one merchant has such a guarantee, they are 'at liberty' to set whatever price they want. Where one might think it would be lower, it will likely not; it will instead be higher. And that is what happens when the 'government' gets involved in the game. Its supply of money "demands" a higher price for whatever it backs. The merchant or producer knows it's there and wants what he sees as 'his share.' The more money that is available to the market the higher prices will be. And that is the fundamental reason that healthcare is so expensive; the government already guarantees that an excess amount of money above the market level will be available. The problem is then compounded when it gets into the "insurance" game. Ask yourself if you can bring to the table any kind of money near to what the government can bring? Can't. The price then becomes dear. And a vicious circle ensues. The taxpayer underwrites the money the government brings to the table, prices again go up, and the demand is again made of the taxpayer for money he can ill afford to part with. But then we must ask 'what of the poor?' What indeed? Have they never received proper healthcare, life and limb at risk because no one answered? Not true. In Christendom, Catholic hospitals and poorhouses answered the call. Today, we have "Doctors without Borders." There are many healthcare professionals who do "pro bono" good for the poor and helpless. Thank goodness for their charity. But, again, what of the poor? Who are they? In this country 41% of the poor own their own homes (percentage may be less today considering the bursting of the housing bubble), 66% have air conditioning and microwaves, and 75% of the poor own a car. According to the book, "The Church and the Market," by Dr. Tom Woods, Jr., "The 'average poor person in America' has more living space and is more likely to own a car and a dishwasher than the 'average European." Note that is not the average "poor" European but the "average" European person "at large." It is terribly difficult to feel compassion for a person who protests that they are without proper healthcare insurance when they are brandishing the latest iPhone in the air at the 'rock concert' they just had to go to. Let us at least acknowledge that 'equality of end' is not the same as 'equality of opportunity.' Or that 'opportunity' and 'end' more often than not require that a person 'work' at it. None of this is meant to diminish the needs of the abject poor. For them society must in charity do something. But here again keep the government out of it! It is a non-sequitur, Tony, that as you state, "(t)hus, health care must be federally funded." When it comes to "Social Justice" here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the "responsibility of the state": "Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in a institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services" CCC 2431. That is a very good description of the Austrian school of economics. That is the "free market." It presupposes "limited" government, such as was established by our Constitution. What truly fails the poor, and makes the middle class vanish, are such things as "stimulus" and TARP bailouts that destabilize the currency. The surest and quickest way to poverty is inflation. Its adjunct 'partner in crime' is profligate government spending! You state that you are a "moderate" but preach the "liberal" agenda. Worse yet, you cover it by acting like the Magisterium is embodied in you and labeling anyone who disagrees with you a "cafeteria Catholic." The Church allows for a wide latitude of societal discretion when it comes to answering the call of "social justice." In the end, Tony, your own accusation comes back at you to haunt you: "You are simply asserting your own political beliefs into a Catechism quote with no rational basis for your assertion."

  2. Pete Brady
    4 years ago

    Tony: You state that a Catholic must accept the Church's condemnation of the "death penalty." But here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually says, "Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty" (CCC 2266). The "death penalty!" That is not condemnation. To the contrary, the death penalty is "acknowledged as well-founded." But to grant to your point what it is due, the Church has also said in recent years that she cannot see where the "death penalty" is justified given that society is generally able to keep those persons wishing to do others harm separate from the community, that they cannot escape the confinement that renders them "unable to inflict harm." Thus, the "death penalty" should not, as a rule, be imposed. Moving on to the "AZ immigration law," you state that the Church has condemned this but do not cite where. Until you can, therefore, I must disagree with you. And by reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens" (CCC 2241). The current level of "Illegal immigration" in this country severely violates this criteria specified by the Catechism. More to the point, eleven million "illegals" in this country is not "immigration;" it's an "invasion." It is imperative to view it as such. What has become especially egregious in recent days is the deliberate setting aside of the "federal" nature of our Constitution by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They have, at last reckoning, granted eleven Central and South American countries standing in the hearing on the "AZ immigration law" that has been brought before that court. The AZ law is "internal" to the sovereignty of the state of Arizona, and is none of any other country's business. If these Latin American countries think there is a matter of some concern to them then take it up with the executive branch. Done otherwise individual states of the Union will be exposed at a whim to the oppressive overreach of foreign sovereignties. Our Constitution forbids individual states from entering into treaties with foreign countries; foreign countries are to be just as well interdicted from interfering with the individual states. You overreach, as well, on the "call for guns to be outlawed from society." A good bit of what you say the bishops of this country have said on the matter reflects the "liberal" bias that has infiltrated the bureaucracy of the USCCB. Addressing the matter to the contrary CCC 2263 quotes St. Thomas Aquinas: "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor... The one is intended, the other is not." --- And quotes St. Thomas again under CCC 2264: "If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful." "Necessary" and "moderate" when someone attacks you or your loved ones, whether the "aggressor" has a gun or not, can, may, and often does require the use of a hand gun to defend one's own or another's life. The Church cannot proscribe that a person must "bring a knife to a gun fight." There is more for me to address but I must again continue that in a separate comment.

  3. Pete Brady
    4 years ago

    Tony: Quite a dissertation. I always kinda thought that "cafeteria Catholics" were those Catholics who didn't go to Mass on Sunday and Holy Days because they saw it as "optional," who were able to rationalize their use of 'birth control' in opposition to the Church's teachings on the matter because 'self-control' was beyond them, who saw 'trial marriages' as acceptable 'cause what really mattered was that 'we love one another' (oops, except when it came to 'discovering' someone else with whom we were more compatible and 'in love' with, and could move on to, trashing the one we were previously with), who saw their own ill-formed 'conscience' as trumping Church teaching whenever the two were in conflict. But now I know better. It appears that a "cafeteria Catholic' is someone who does not conform to the Magisterium of 'Tony.' You place an overly heavy emphasis on what any one grouping of bishops publishes on certain matters (any disagreement with them being 'not Catholic' by your standards). A necessary distinction must be made. Canon 749 of the Code of Canon Law delineates the "infallibility" of the Pope, the college of bishops when they are "gathered together in an ecumenical council," or even when although "scattered throughout the world" they unite with the Pope in "their capacity as authentic teachers of faith and morals." That is the standard of Catholicity. Noted as distinctly separate from those conditions, Canon 753 says that "(a)lthough they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority," bishops individually or when as members of colleges, or conferences, or particular councils, remain "authentic teachers and instructors of the faith" and that the "faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own bishops with a sense of religious respect." There is a difference between "infallibility" and "religious respect." There is a difference between the objective nature of "faith and morals" and how the bishops, individually or together, state that such matters 'must' or should/could be adapted to the world. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI came out strongly against the Iraq War but I do not recall either of them saying that as a matter of faith and morals that it was to be condemned and that Catholics could not support their country in its prosecution. If you can point to where they did as an "infallible" matter of "faith and morals," then I concede the point. If you cannot then you have done what "liberals" often do, which is to "liberally" extrapolate or, contrarily, diminish a particular principle to fit their own agenda. "Truth" then becomes a matter of the more convincing argument. The 'pre-disposition' of any one person making them 'more' or 'less' disposed to agree or disagree with that argument. So let us examine your arguments, shall we? And because this is already too long I'll do that separately.

  4. Tony
    4 years ago

    Pete, your last two posts were very well put but let me make sure I understand you. You said "An earthly 'paradise' or 'equality' of all life's temporal ends is not in the cards." This is a bit vague but it appears very important to the point you're trying to make. I believe that the Church is not saying we should all have the same amount of material goods - in other words, we shouldn't all have Ferraris, and it's ok if we don't all have equal amounts of material possessions. However, it is a crime for us to allow people to starve and to deny them of their basic needs. The Church is strong in saying this. Read the following article in which the Pope calls hunger unnacceptable. Here's some quotes: "Not enough is being done to lift people out of poverty because some people exhibit "resigned regret, if not downright indifference" to the plight of others and tend to believe hunger is just part and parcel of life in certain countries, he said. Everyone has a moral responsibility to show solidarity toward the rest of the human family and concretely meet the needs of others "so as to favor the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love." Here's the link:

    Society must make sure that all people have their basic needs met. So yes, I agree that an earthly paradise is not something the Church teaches, but the Church most definitely teaches that all people must have their basic needs met, no exceptions. I would hardly call a world in which everyone can eat an earthly paradise. A world in which everyone can eat is simply what we should and could have.

  5. Tony
    4 years ago

    Vance, as I said, I am a moderate, I do not consider myself liberal and I am not a democrat, I was not trying to 'defend' either side. I was simply sticking up for what I see as Catholic teaching. I agree with you that there has been an abuse of the term 'social justice,' and that it should never be used to promote abortion, euthanasia, (I don't know anything about the situation of medical marijuana), and homosexual marriage. The promotion of these three things you mentioned - abortion, euthanasia, and homosexual marriage - should be looked down upon. Yes, I agree, However, how can you possibly be against illegal amnesty when our Church is clearly very much for it? The fact that you are against illegal amnesty shows that you are not loyal enough to our Church. My friend, it is not just a few crazy liberals in our Church who are advocating for causes such as illegal amnesty, it is the entire Conference of US Catholic bishops themselves. We must follow their guidance. Have you heard of the DREAM act? If passed, it will grant citizenship (I believe) to certain qualified children of parents who came here illegally. The web site of the US Catholic bishops is promoting and asking Catholics to send letters to their congressmen to pass the bill. Why are you apparently hostile to immigrants? I agree that certain illegal immigrants should not be welcome here - for instance, if someone wants to come here simply to sell drugs and leech off the welfare system, that is immoral. But there are illegal immigrants who come to our country illegally for genuine reasons - they have a family to feed and are unable to do support themselves and their family in the country in which they live. I had a friend who's father got laid off in South America directly because of NAFTA, a policy made by our country which literally took his father's job away. His father was unable to find work due to a policy of our country. They did not immigrate here illegally, but I would not blame them if they did. We are all one human family, and must help others in need. We are blessed to live in a safe and prosperous country. Why should we hog it to ourselves when there are starving people out there? And simply because something is illegal does not make it immoral. The law of the United States is immoral at many times. For instance, the law tells us that abortion is acceptable. Obviously, abortion is unacceptable. Thus, the law is flawed. So you can not possibly say that illegal immigration is immoral simply because it is illegal. That would be absurd. Now I am not saying that the US can afford to have 6 billion people come here. But we should help who we can, and we should not look down upon those who come here for earnest reasons, whether legally or illegally. Vance, do you the think that Pope Benedict XVI is one of the crazy liberals of whom you speak? Because Pope Benedict is very liberal when it comes to immigration. Read this article that chronicles some of the Pope's comments on immigration when he came here. In it, he mentions that ultimately, the main goal society should work towards is ensuring that people can support themselves in their own countries. In other words, all countries should have ways to support their people. But the Pope says when that is not possible, people are forced to immigrate. They must. It is their duty to their family and it is necessary to take care of themselves. Here's the link:

    The Pope mentions that families must not be separated. I don't understand your resistance to our Church's stance on immigration.

  6. John Grimes
    4 years ago

    Pete Brady: Your comments are fair enough, but there is a flaw in the very beginning, I believe. You say that you wish us to consider whether such diversity of opinion, i.e. the strong opinions voiced in this forum, exists in heaven. You conclude correctly that it does not, and then draw the conclusion that heavenly unity ought to be our charter here on Earth. The flaw I see is that determining just what human actions that unity should dictate is very difficult. For instance, we Catholics can all agree (should all agree!), I think, that contraceptive sex and the promotion of same are immoral. The problem here below is how exactly to reflect this in our society, how to do so effectively, and about this question there can be many legitimate disagreements. I would say the easy part is knowing the truth -- we have the Church to help us there. The difficulties arise when we want to translate our convictions into policy.

  7. vance
    4 years ago

    Tony, This article addresses the issue of "Thieves" stealing the term 'Social Justice' from the church. Who are the "Thieves"? Ahhh, You guessed it. !"LIBERALS"! The Liberals in our clergy forfieted the term to the liberals in the political arena. NOW, Next question. What political party do the Liberals dominate?? YOOUU GUESSED IT AGAIN!! !"THE DEMOCRAT PARTY"! Now this political body of creatures use this term to promote abortion, euthenasia, medical marajuana, homosexual marriage, and illegal alien amnesty. Yes, it is time to take the term back from the "Liberal Thieves" and use it in its proper context.

  8. Pete Brady
    4 years ago

    From the 1878 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, "Socialism, Communism, Nihilism" (Quod Apostolici Muneris), to Pope John Paul II's 1991 encyclical, “On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum” (Centesimus Annus) the Catholic Church has addressed the pressing question of "Social Justice." We, today's Catholics, cannot avoid "Social Justice," cannot repackage it under another name, without burying the truth found in those encyclicals. As Catholics, we are obliged to stand up for true "Social Justice" precisely because Holy Mother Church has spoken on it. We are called to make the necessary distinctions. She affirms the natural right to "private property" but also affirms at the same time that God gave the earth to all men and that the right use of that property cannot be withheld from the common good.

  9. Pete Brady
    4 years ago

    'Defending turf' or 'promoting truth?' Which is the more visible theme seen in our comments? And that can be attributed just as much to one side as the other. Strong opinions abound in this forum. And yet I wonder, do we consider as to whether such diversity of opinion exists in heaven? Or does not a certain unity exist there? I think unity. And that unity must certainly be in accord with the "eternal law." So, should that not also be our charter here? Discern the truth. Discern what is in conformance with the eternal law. An earthly 'paradise' or 'equality' of all life's temporal ends is not in the cards. There is a difference between 'charity' and 'justice.' We are called to charity. We are called to justice. We need to discern what is proper to each. We are called to "know, love, and serve God." True "social justice" conforms to that end.

  10. Tony
    4 years ago

    Jon, you wrote a very insightful post, thanks for that. I did not mean to sound so attacking of one political party in particular (as I said, I am a moderate, I am actually registered independent), I could just clearly see that the conversation was very one-sided and tended to favor a political party above our Church, which was extremely upsetting. But you're right, it is sad to see us divided. I do not consider myself left or right, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. I am strictly Catholic, and that's all there is to it.

    John (Grimes), thank you very much for the kind words, I would like to post here more often. Your Church-centered views are extremely refreshing to see, and if it wasn't for the fact that you posted here, I think I would have lost my mind. We need more Catholics like you who strictly focus on the Church's teaching and don't get swept up in bizarre patriotic/political agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with the 2,000 year universal history of our great Church. And as you mentioned, all of those topics must be acknowledged as truth by all Catholics - the moral failure of abortion, torture, the death penalty, the Iraq War, guns, etc. All of these are important and not a single one of them can be overlooked.

    I have just as many problems with 'liberal' Catholics as I do with 'right-wing' Catholics, but since there seem to be far more erroneously right-wing Catholics posting here, I need to post something about this. The opposition of abortion and homosexual marriage are both very important and two things I strongly stand against, but nothing frustrates me more than when right-wing 'Catholics' seems to care about absolutely nothing but these two issues. Often, right-wingers will constantly cite out all pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage Catholics as being cafeteria Catholics (which is true), but yet these same right-wingers are often equally cafeteria-Catholics who end up disagreeing with the Church's condemnation of the death penalty, condemnation of the Iraq War, condemnation of the Arizona immigration law, and call for guns to be outlawed from society (save from the hands of law enforcement). Opposing abortion and gay marriage does not make you a true Catholic! You MUST oppose the death penalty, oppose any and all unjust wars (including the Iraq War), oppose racial-profiling laws such as the Arizona law and be compassionate towards the needs of all immigrants, uphold the teaching of health care as a basic human right, or else you are A CAFETERIA CATHOLIC. Period.

    For some reference points, look at this quote from the USCCB: "(we) call for effective and courageous action to control handguns, leading to their eventual elimination from our society." The U.S. Catholic Bishops have called for the elimination of guns from society over time. If you do not agree with this, then you are a cafeteria Catholic. Here's the link:

    In addition, the Church is very much for universal health care, and it has endorsed federal funding for this basic human right. You can not disagree with this, our Bishops hold this to be the correct position. We must faithfully form our consciences around this teaching. Look at these quotes from our Bishops: "Genuine health care reform must especially focus on the basic health needs of the poor (Le., those who are unable through private resources, employer support, or public aid to provide payment for health care services, or those unable to gain access to health care because of limited resources, inadequate education, or discrimination)." "Linking the health care of poor and working-class families to the health care of those with greater resources is probably the best assurance of comprehensive benefits and quality care." These quotes are found from this article:

    Anne, you keep mentioning subsidiarity. Yes, I am of course very much for subsidarity, but are you reading what the Catechism is saying? ALL it says is that the government should never interfere in lives of individuals when society can take care of an issue rather than have the government do it. That is all it says. And this is true. However, I don't know if you are making this mistake, but many right-wing Catholics make a mistake in simply ASSUMING that the Church's teaching on subsidiarity means that health care should not be taken care of by the government. It does NOT say that at all. If you believe that the Catholic Church's teaching of subsidiarity means that health care must not be funded by the government, then you are IN ERROR. You are simply asserting your own political beliefs into a Catechism quote with no rational basis for your assertion; you're just as bad as a Protestant who twists and turns Scripture to mean whatever they want it to mean, totally taking it out of context.

    There is nothing in the Catechism saying where to draw the line with subsidiarity. Instead, the Catechism actually tells us that health care is a fundamental human right (see my above post). So while the Church does teach subsidiarity, it also teaches that health care MUST be a matter for the government to control in a country like ours in which the system is failing to include the poor. Our bishops tell us this. You must remember that a stronger priority than subsidiarity is the Church's PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR. In our country, millions of the poor are without health care. I had a financially struggling college friend who was very ill but could not afford health insurance when they were very much in need and thus did not seek necessary treatment. And you're going to deny this person health care because they simply can't afford it? Simply because you don't want the government handling health care? Shame on you. Christ would be appalled. Our Bishops tell us that we must have universal health care. Subsidiarity means that the government must not interfere in means that can be handled effectively by individuals and private organizations (the Church) - but in the case of health care, this country is FAILING because of the lack of health care for the poor. Thus, health care must be federally funded. Our Bishops agree. We oppose Obama's plan for reform, but nevertheless, we strongly back universal health care. Period. If you disagree with the bishops on this matter, you are a cafeteria Catholic.

    I think I am about done for now. I simply urge everyone to put aside all attachments to worldly things, including pride of country, political party, etc., and simply look straight to our Church and our one true Catholic faith. You are not fully Catholic unless you fully embrace the Church's teachings.

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