The Catholic Church is not like the apocalyptics with their broken-down doomsday clock, obsessing over the rapturous destruction of millions of lives; or the evangelicals who preach "personal salvation" for a buck; or the mega-churches that tend to the spiritual needs of comfortable white suburbanites. The Catholic Church not only believes in the letter of the teachings of Jesus Christ, but tries to live by it each and every day. It's really a no-brainer. Jesus showed the way:
Catholic teaching is clear on helping the poor and providing healthcare for all, on economic and social justice, and on the role of the state. Here are selected excerpts of Catholic social teaching (emphasis mine):Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.Matthew 25:36
On the proper role of government, note that the Catholic Church emphasizes that the right wing libertarian ideology of so-called "limited government" is antithetical to Catholic teaching. Hence, whether or not it admits to it, in this sphere of the role of government, social justice, and the "common good" the Church is decidedly liberal in its outlook and philosophy. This passage is worth highlighting:Option for the Poor
The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. The "option for the poor," is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community.
The option for the poor is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society.Rights and Responsibilities
Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency — starting with food, shelter and clothing, employment, health care, and education. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities — to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. See selected quotations.
Similarly, when Bill-O The Clown tried once more to portray our President as somehow alien to "our values" he placed President Obama, without even knowing it, squarely in the mainstream of Catholic Christian teaching on the proper role of government and politicians:Role of Government and Subsidiarity
The state has a positive moral function. It is an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights, and build the common good. All people have a right and a responsibility to participate in political institutions so that government can achieve its proper goals.
The principle of subsidiarity holds that the functions of government should be performed at the lowest level possible, as long as they can be performed adequately. When the needs in question cannot adequately be met at the lower level, then it is not only necessary, but imperative that higher levels of government intervene. See selected quotations on the role of government and subsidiarity.
Which brings us to the sordid and pathetic footnote in the Republican Party's radical schemes to undo generations of our social and economic safety net, enacted under FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, simply because they are laissez-faire economic royalists and extremists who worship at the altar of a false goddess named Ayn Rand. This blog has been hammering this theme from the very beginning of Paul Ryan's Terror Tour, but only now is it percolating up the fringes of the Beltway Media. In fact, they treat the vehement Catholic opposition to the Ryan budget as if it didn't exist. And they will not even acknowledge the connection between these radical policies and Ayn Rand. Why? (Maybe Andrea Mitchell can provide an answer. But she's not telling.)Economic Justice
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. All workers have a right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions. They also have a fundamental right to organize and join unions. People have a right to economic initiative and private property, but these rights have limits. No one is allowed to amass excessive wealth when others lack the basic necessities of life.Catholic teaching opposes collectivist and statist economic approaches. But it also rejects the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. Distributive justice, for example, cannot be achieved by relying entirely on free market forces. Competition and free markets are useful elements of economic systems. However, markets must be kept within limits, because there are many needs and goods that cannot be satisfied by the market system. It is the task of the state and of all society to intervene and ensure that these needs are met.