Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Occupy Buffalo Road

November 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Maybe if the lay faithful were to occupy Buffalo Road, we could get junk like this (from CNS) out of our diocesan paper:

Occupy Wall Street, church teaching jibe

Catholic social teaching calls us to speak up for the poor and weak.

So let us raise our voices together with our courageous brothers and sisters of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Demand that the do-little U.S. Congress:

* Significantly raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

* Drastically cut military spending; stop the wars.

* Create millions of public service jobs.

* Give small businesses (especially green energy companies) job-producing financial assistance.

* Extend the efficiency of Medicare to everyone.

* Pass strong anti-sweatshop legislation.

* Greatly increase poverty-focused assistance to the nation’s and world’s poor!

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52 Responses to “Occupy Buffalo Road”

  1. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: Ben, is this what the diocese is asking people to do? This unruly bunch of people represents dozens of different fringe groups, coming together under the same umbrella. There is no “one” message from them, unlike the peaceful Tea Party folks last summer. Lately, some of them have become violent, and the police are having a difficult time in most American cities, all over the country! Courageous brothers and sisters, indeed! The diocese needs to do its homework on this issue.

  2. avatar Dr. K says:

    It’s from CNS, but the fact that it was posted to the Courier site implies support for the movement.

    By the way, St. Mary downtown is hosting a sort of Q&A session with Occupy Rochester: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=271763082863170

  3. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Jim,
    I often unknowingly tie the headline phrase and the first line of the article together thus creating confusion. I changed it around a bit which hopefulyy makes it more clear.

  4. avatar Dr. K says:

    Commentary:
    * Significantly raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.
    Thou shalt not steal. The deadly sin of envy may also be at play.
    * Drastically cut military spending; stop the wars.
    We shouldn’t cut defense spending by much. As for stopping the wars, isn’t this already in progress?
    * Create millions of public service jobs.
    The government can’t pay for the ones we already have! Look at the terrible shape the postal service is in. Look at what’s happening to local police forces and firefighters.
    * Give small businesses (especially green energy companies) job-producing financial assistance.
    Lower taxes and reduced regulations on the “wealthy” would help, but the OWS crowd doesn’t want that.
    * Extend the efficiency of Medicare to everyone.
    Medicare is efficient?
    * Pass strong anti-sweatshop legislation.
    Doesn’t seem like a significant problem in 2011 America.
    * Greatly increase poverty-focused assistance to the nation’s and world’s poor!
    Sounds good in theory, but what do we get in practice? The welfare state where millions of people sit on their bums, leach off grandma and collect money from the government. I’m all for helping these people with food, clothing (not expensive jewelery bling) and affordable shelter, but let’s stop signing blank checks.

  5. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: Thanks for the clarification, Ben.

  6. avatar Nerina says:

    Ben,

    Thanks for highlighting this maddening column. I’m working on an LTE right now. I am sick and tired of this garbage being carried in the Courier – first thing the new bishop should do is either scrap the operation altogether, or seriously revamp it.

    Dr. K,

    Great commentary (I was equally surprised by the “sweat shop” legislation idea – but maybe it is a problem of which I am not aware). Mr. Magliano’s call for increased assistance to the poor (and I’m assuming he means governmental assistance)sounds great in theory, but we already know how this ends. Look at Detroit or any other major city that is largely dependent on government largesse and we see how good intentions go bad. I don’t know about Mr. Magliano, but I don’t want more cities with below 50% graduation rates, exceedingly high violent crime rates and out of control illegitimacy (sorry, I know that is not a politically-correct term).

    With the protests now turning violent and local communities demanding local laws be enforced, I wonder if Mr. Magliano still thinks we should “raise our voices with our brothers and sisters?”

  7. avatar Nerina says:

    Oh, and I think the “do little Congress” has done quite enough already. TARP was a bad idea. The auto bailout was a bad idea (did you know that GM loses $1500 on every car it makes because its production costs – i.e. union labor costs – are so high?). The problem is, Congress has been doing plenty and usually against the objections of the majority of people it governs. What Mr. Magliano really means is that Congress should raise tax rates to confiscatory levels and “make the rich pay!!” all while cutting defense spending which is the one thing our Constitution actually calls for.

  8. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    It’s also that way in Syracuse. The Catholic Sun ges behing every one of the Social Justice issues. Although not as bad, the paper has Fr. Michael Reese, a dissenter, as a collumnist and also supports the new alliance the diocese has with St Bernards.

  9. avatar Gordon says:

    Throughout the Gospels, Jesus condemns wealth, and he condemns the neglect of the poor. In fact, Jesus talks about wealth and poverty more than he talks about any other moral issue. He never talks about abortion. He never talks about homosexuality. But he talks about wealth and poverty over and over again. And what he says is as clear as it can be. He tells the rich young ruler that if he wants to be saved, then he must sell everything he has, and give to the poor. He tells us in a parable that a rich man who refuses to feed a poor man will go to hell. (And he doesn’t tell that lazy bum to get a job?!) He tells us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven. (Even though this rich man is a job creator?!) At one point, he even turns to his disciples and says, without qualification, that in order to be his disciple you cannot own any property. When he distinguishes the sheep from the goats, the distinction is based on who helps the needy and who doesn’t. These are all direct quotes from the Gospels. Of course, you will relegate all of these commands to personal morality, and say that none of these instructions is meant for government. Of course, Jesus never says that, but you will read that into it. But the problem is that NONE of the instructions in the Bible are explicitly stated as instructions for government. So by this criterion, the entire Bible is completely irrelevant to government. But of course you don’t think that either. You just pick and choose which commands you would like to apply to government, and which you wouldn’t. In the end, it just so happens that whatever your conservative politics tell you to think, so the Catholic Church says as well. This completely discredits the idea that you are resisting your culture in any real way. Instead, your Catholic faith is completely tailored to your prior commitment to conservative politics. In that respect, you and your liberal Catholic opponents are more alike than you think — both of you shape your faith to fit your political preconceptions. However, at least the liberals have Jesus’ own teachings on their side.

  10. avatar Hopefull says:

    So help me understand this….was it a good thing or a bad thing?

    -that Jesus accepted gold, frankincense and myrrh from 3 kings?
    -that Jesus foster father was an entrepreneur?
    -that Jesus wore a seamless (expensive) garment?
    -that Jesus had rich friends like Lazarus who could host Him and His Crew?
    -that Jesus accepted the anointing with expensive ointment?
    -that Jesus had friends and a tax collector disciple who could throw expensive dinner parties for Him?
    -that Jesus accepted money from women who followed his entourage providing resources?
    -that Jesus had a rich friend who lent Him a donkey and its colt to ride?
    -that Jesus had a disciple with connections into the high priest’s courtyard?
    -that Jesus had a rich friend who could provide Him an upper room for passover?
    -that Jesus had a rich friend who could give Him a nice new tomb? and provide spices for His entombment?

    why do you think He did these things? Why did He tell a parable where 5 virgins with so much oil didn’t share it will 5 dumb ones who wasted it? Or why tell about someone trusted with investment who was criticized for not having made more money? Why?

  11. avatar Gordon says:

    1. A carpenter is not an entrepreneur. By definition, an entrepreneur is someone who invests capital, and makes a profit from that investment, whereas a carpenter is someone who sells his labor for a wage.

    2. The fact that Jesus friends did something does not in any way imply that he endorsed it. After all, Jesus spent time with prostitutes. Does that mean that he endorsed prostitution? No, of course not. So this is simply a bad argument.

    3. Probably the best text for your purposes is the text in which Jesus accepts the expensive ointment, despite complaints that it could be sold and the money given to the poor. But look at what Jesus says there. He says that whereas the poor will always be with them, HE will NOT always be with them. So Jesus explicitly says that while he, Jesus, was on earth there was good reason to give him gifts, rather than give the money to the poor, precisely because Jesus would not always be with them. The implication is that after Jesus is gone, this way of spending money no longer applies. The same point applies to the gifts of gold, frankincense,… .

  12. avatar Dr. K says:

    “However, at least the liberals have Jesus’ own teachings on their side.”

    Cite me where Jesus encouraged theft.

  13. avatar JLo says:

    Dear Gordon,

    If you prefer the structures of socialists, communists, and nihilists to those of capitalists, there are still places for you to “enjoy”, places like Somalia and Cuba or even Hugo’s way in South America. Travel to those places, Gordon, and find the poverty of body and spirit in the people in those places: they are much poorer than anyone in America; surely poorer than the cell-phone toting, flat-screen TV owning people of “poverty” throughout our country… poor dears. Ya can’t get that stuff with food stamps, Gordon, so one wonders just how the people in the projects have that stuff. Aren’t you tired of your hard-earned dollars buying such things for the do-nothing members of American society? I am. It does neither them nor me any good.

    There are absolutely no favorable comparisons to the freedoms of capitalism. In every single one of those state-run places, people are enslaved to government. What, dear sir, are you reading? Where is your sense of history? Yes, capitalism can go astray, as all human systems can and will, but it is still the best answer for humanity, and so is this country which God has endowed like no other.

    Dr. Peter Kreeft, a hero of mine (and he should be on your reading list, Gordon), suggests that we should have soft hearts but hard heads, as in: “In our hearts we should be ‘bleeding-heart liberals’ and in our heads ‘stuck-in-the-mud conservatives’”.

    Dr. Kreeft must have read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on the horrors of socialism. You should, too, Gordon… and so should those misguided “leaders” of the Church who are all about social justice and no way comport to the Church taught by the Magisterium. Pay attention, for instance, to how Pope Leo XIII starts item 5 of that encyclical:

    “For, indeed, although the socialists, stealing the very Gospel itself with a view to deceive more easily the unwary, have been accustomed to distort it so as to suit their own purposes, nevertheless so great is the difference between their depraved teachings and the most pure doctrine of Christ that none greater could exist: ‘for what participation hath justice with injustice or what fellowship hath light with darkness?’7”

    +JMJ

  14. avatar Dr. K says:

    “Aren’t you tired of your hard-earned dollars buying such things for the do-nothing members of American society?”

    St. Paul spoke about this in 2 Thessalonians 3:10
    “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat”

  15. avatar Gordon says:

    1. Out of the 46 million Americans in poverty, 15 million are children. So about 1/3 of the people in poverty are children. So when you talk about all those those “do-nothings,” you should remember that many of the people you are talking about are children. As for the other vilification of the poor, it is baseless. In order to make a generalization about most or all of the 46 million Americans who are currently in poverty, you would have to have a very large, representative sample on which to base that generalization, which you don’t have. The truth is that people often have very bad luck, and that is to no fault of their own. Do you know what is the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the United States? — medical bills that cannot be paid because of insufficient insurance coverage, which is just another aspect of the free market that you love so much.

    2. Theft is when you take something that rightly belongs to someone else. Thus, when you say that taxation is theft, you are assuming that every dime that someone acquires in the free market rightly belongs to them. I disagree. The free market does not reward people according to what they deserve for their work. In order to believe that, you would have to believe that Alex Rodriguez deserves as much money for one day of baseball as a fireman or a policeman deserves for years and years of hard work. That is implausible. The free market often rewards people much more, or much less, than what they deserve fore their work. That is because the free market is governed by just two things — supply and demand, but those two things often fail to match up with what people really deserve for their work. When the free market rewards people much more than what they deserve, then taxation is justified, precisely because that money is not deserved. In thinking otherwise, you have simply bought into a myth — the myth that free markets reward people according to what they deserve. That is often false.

    3. There are a lot of options in between American capitalism, on one end, and pure socialism, on the other, and many of those options make the poor much better off than they are in the U.S. . For example, the bottom 36% of the people in Norway are better off than the bottom 36% of the people in the U.S. (See the data here: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0414/p17s02-cogn.html ). That is because Norway has much more extensive social programs to help people in poverty. Roughly the same is true of the other countries in Scandinavia, and other countries in Western Europe as well. So we don’t even have to discuss the merits of socialism in order to find better alternatives for the poor.

    4. One last thought on the stereotypes of poor people: if a poor person didn’t buy a cell phone, then how many months worth of rent and groceries do you think that money would buy? To speak of owning a cell phone as if it shows that a person is not really poor betrays a degree of ignorance about poverty that is really appalling.

  16. avatar Dr. K says:

    Re #2
    What people “deserve” is irrelevant. If you take what belongs to someone else against their will, you are committing theft. I don’t understand the difficulty to grasp this concept.

  17. avatar Gordon says:

    Dr. K,

    You need to distinguish two different senses of the word “belong.” One is a merely descriptive sense, while the other is a moral sense. In the merely descriptive sense, to say that something belongs to someone is to say only that they have it in their possession. By contrast, to say that something belongs to someone in the moral sense is to say not only that they have it in their possession, but also that they OUGHT to have it in their possession. A simple example will illustrate the point. If I find ten dollars on the sidewalk, and put it in my pocket, then it now “belongs to me” in the merely descriptive sense — I have it in my possession. However, it does not follow that the ten dollars belongs to you in the MORAL sense — it does not follow that you OUGHT to have it in your possession. That is the important distinction here. To steal from someone is to take something that belongs to them in the MORAL sense, not just in the descriptive sense. What you assume, without ever having questioned it, is that no matter how much money a person gets in a free market, and no matter how they got it, they ought to have every dime of it. So if someone can make billions of dollars by selling cigarettes that kill people, then they really SHOULD have every dime of those billions. And if a professional athlete can get more for one year of playing than a fireman gets for en entire lifetime, then the athlete really SHOULD have every dime of that, and the fireman should have not one dime more. This is the myth that you have been sold, and I hope that one day you will see through it.

  18. avatar militia says:

    I will continue to take exception to how Gordon interprets the Gospels, which seems to me to be a very one-dimensional view of Jesus and His Message. Here where I think he’s gone wrong in what he wrote earlier:

    Gordon wrote:
    at 9:18 AM

    1. A carpenter is not an entrepreneur. By definition, an entrepreneur is someone who invests capital, and makes a profit from that investment, whereas a carpenter is someone who sells his labor for a wage.

    I don’t know where you got your definition, but I can’t imagine any entrepreneur believing that “makes a profit” is part of the definition. There are many, many entrepreneurs in the US today who lose money, due to a variety of reasons, including poor business plans, competition, taxes, expenses, complex regulations and many more adversities. No, profit is not part of the definition, but RISK is. The classic definition of an entrepreneur (from the French meaning “undertaking”) is: “A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.” An employee does not undertake the risk of a business, for example. But we don’t have any reason to think St. Joseph was an employee. Day laborers like the ones standing most of the day in the marketplace seem to be what you are describing. No skill required, just go into the vineyard or field and do what you are told. Carpentry is a skill. We have reason to believe that St. Joseph used his skill to support Mary and Jesus and, like most fathers with skilled trades, would likely have taught his Son as well, a good reason for Jesus not to begin His Ministry at a younger age. As to your definition, someone with a skilled trade would have had to “organize and operate” his trade. He would have had to invest in his tools, primitive as they might be to us. Yes, he might have gone to someone else’s property, but he also likely had a little shop to keep his tools, materials, and to build items for sale. Actually, it is quite demeaning to skilled craftsmen to refer to them as you have done. Even in our day and age, carpenters sell their skill, their ability and creativity.

    Gordon continues:

    2. The fact that Jesus friends did something does not in any way imply that he endorsed it. After all, Jesus spent time with prostitutes. Does that mean that he endorsed prostitution? No, of course not. So this is simply a bad argument.

    Sorry, I think you’re offering the bad argument. Jesus accepted what was given to Him by wealthy people, friends or not. That would have been pretty two-faced, then and now if he were condemning wealth in general. He was setting an example and using the opportunity for teaching. He loved the rich just as much as the poor. To the prostitutes he called them to repentance; he apparently didn’t hang out with them as a social event. We should also remember that what is in the Gospels is what the Holy Spirit wants us to know about. We don’t see Jesus going around town redistributing wealth, or giving poor people economic resources. Instead, we need to learn that regardless of how much or how little we have, we are all poor if we don’t have a relationship with God.

    Gordon’s third point was:

    3. Probably the best text for your purposes is the text in which Jesus accepts the expensive ointment, despite complaints that it could be sold and the money given to the poor. But look at what Jesus says there. He says that whereas the poor will always be with them, HE will NOT always be with them. So Jesus explicitly says that while he, Jesus, was on earth there was good reason to give him gifts, rather than give the money to the poor, precisely because Jesus would not always be with them. The implication is that after Jesus is gone, this way of spending money no longer applies. The same point applies to the gifts of gold, frankincense,… .

    Well, I do disagree with your interpretation. Jesus made this point one time, and it was about anointing His Body for burial. Where is comparable language for the other situations? In another place Jesus says He will not leave us alone. And indeed He has not, constantly coming to us in the Eucharist. I also see in His Words the permission to continue to give to Him, through beautiful churches, sacred vessels and other signs of respect. Jesus did make the point that the poor would always be with us and indeed they are. There is no amount of social engineering that is ever going to change that. But when government steals the money from people they also steal the opportunity for the human heart to move charitably. As to the rich young man, we should remember that it was the young man seeking other ways to perfection. Christ did not call his disciples and all future followers to the same answer He gave to the young man (whom he loved) anymore than he calls each of us to a vocation in poverty like cloistered nuns or brothers. The exchange with the rich young man does show that even if we say “no” to a vocation, what He told the young man was sufficient for his salvation, and that Jesus will keep loving Him regardless. We see no evidence that the young man’s inability to do what Christ offered will impair his salvation, only that he will be sad that he wasn’t able to do more AT THAT TIME. It also seems that we need to take much care to not selectively hijack certain biblical situations as if they stood in isolation (that is why I first offered you a wide range of instances in which Jesus clearly did not choose to condemn wealth.) We need to view in context. Otherwise, every time we get tempted we’d be plucking out our eyes or cutting off our hands. We all grow spiritually at different rates too, as a flower unfolds at different rates. We are called to discernment of how our gifts are offered, and that isn’t only money (with which society seems so obsessed) but it is also our time and talent, often even more difficult to give. Let us remember the words of the Didache which say something like we should let our alms sweat in our clenched hands before we decide where to give them.

  19. avatar militia says:

    Sorry about the alignment on the post above. Have never been able to figure out how to use XHTML. Moderator, please feel free to change my own text back to white and get rid of those funny columns if you like. Thanks.

  20. avatar Gordon says:

    Nowhere in the Gospels does it say that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was wealthy, nor does it say that he ran a business, or anything of the sort. So you are making up every bit of this out of think air. What it says is that he was a carpenter, and there is no reason to think that a carpenter in first-century Palestine would have been wealthy.

    To accept a gift from someone does not imply endorsement of everything they do, or even of anything they do. If you give me a watch, and I accept it, you should not infer that I approve of everything you do in life, or even of anything at all. This act of giving might be one of your few redeeming acts. So the fact that Jesus accepted gifts from someone with money does not imply any endorsement of their wealth.

    The rich young ruler asks Jesus “What must I do to have eternal life?” That’s the question. And Jesus tells him to keep the law. The rich young ruler says that he has done that, and that is when Jesus tells him that there is still something that he lacks, and then he issues the command to sell everything and give to the poor. So in this context, the topic is what is required for eternal life.

    And what about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? In that parable, Jesus tells us that there is a rich man, and Lazarus is a poor man (and that is all that we’re told about them), and Lazarus wants to eat scraps from the rich man’s table, but the rich man refuses, and then the rich man goes to HELL. Jesus doesn’t say “And then the rich man lacked perfection.” No, he says that the guy goes to hell.

    Jesus also tells his disciples, directly, that they must own no property.

    Finally, let’s add two interesting passages from the Acts of the Apostles. These are two statements about the earliest Christians in Jerusalem, right after the Holy Spirit had come.

    Acts 2:44-45: And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

    Acts 4:32 – 5:5: And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

  21. avatar militia says:

    I didn’t say Joseph was wealthy. He wasn’t. He gave the turtle dove offering. I said he had a skill, was not a day-laborer in the sense it is used elsewhere. Remember my original question was, given all those facts in scripture, did you see it as good or bad? Obviously Joseph didn’t give everything away.

    I also didn’t say that accepting a gift from someone implies “endorsement of EVERYTHING they do.” Including prostitution. My point was that to accept a gift from out of their wealth doesn’t fit with deploring their wealth. That would be two faced, which Christ was not.

    The rich young ruler asks Jesus for more to do than what Christ answered him at first, yet what Christ said was more than the young man could do. The point is that this is the only instance (in two gospels). If it were essential for everyone to sell all that they have and give to the poor it would be elsewhere in Christ’s teaching, like in the beatitudes, and it would have been taught for the last 2000 years as a requirement (like Mass on Sunday). I disagree that Christ gave him a command; it was more like an offer. What is your reference that Christ told all the disciples they must own no property please? Peter had a house and a boat, didn’t he? Under your model, why are priests even paid a salary? Why don’t they take a vow of complete poverty?

    “Acts 2:44-45: And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” you wrote. Yes, that was a very wise action in a persecuted community, and one in which they believed Christ’s return was imminent. Paul supported himself, and demanded others work or not eat.

  22. avatar Dr. K says:

    Response to this post>

    If Alex Rodriguez agrees to play baseball for $100 million and he earns that $100 million by successfully completing the terms of his contract, then the $100 million is HIS. Whether or not this work is more essential or meaningful than firefighting is irrelevant. Rodriguez agreed to work for the wage, and he should be paid the agreed upon amount (Leviticus 19:11,13).

    For Joe “Occupy Wall Street” to take this money from Rodriguez’s wallet against his will through taxation is theft. Rodriguez earned the money, it goes into his pocket, and it is his to spend as he desires.

  23. avatar JLo says:

    Gordon seeks to deprive us of the free will with which our Creator endowed us and replace it with Marx’s rule of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” May you never get your way in this great country, Gordon (please, God!).

    Catholics, indeed all Christians, know that we do not live in Utopia, and we expect that the Divine Judge will deal with us according to Christ’s teachings, among which is: From those who have been given much, much will be expected. Happily, Gordon, you are not our judge, not now and surely not in our next life.

    Dear Gordon, we are here on the planet to do our best with what God has given us, to share our takings, to live the Gospel message the very best we can. America has been given the best, the very best in many things, including the rule of law and our Constitution; and until recent times, the capability of using our abilities and reap the rewards WHICH WE HAVE A RIGHT, A GOD-GIVEN RIGHT, TO USE OR ABUSE. That’s the point of life!!! We’re on a pilgrimage, man! America provides the best terms for our pilgrimage through this world to the next. America from its beginnings recognized what I have just said about individual, God-given rights… the right to succeed, but not the guarantee.

    Regarding your American poverty numbers, please do a little more reading about those numbers. You will discover that no amount of money thrown at poverty or at education has improved either. We are talking billions of dollars already thrown at the problem, and the most during the years even YOU cite that poverty has INCREASED!! That’s because EVERYONE is God’s child, and everyone may take and use, grow or not, give or keep, abuse or use as he or she sees fit, not as YOU and your friends see as fit. And there are those who just take and never do anything good with what is just given without working for it.

    For instance, those projects built for the poor in cities all over America… how are they doing, Gordon? Take a tour, even a virtual one, and you will see that when people have no skin in the game, they abuse and use and care nothing. That’s why all the project living structures turn into slums. And I’m not doing that, Gordon… the tenants are! They have children whom they allow to live in terrible circumstances, because they aren’t even required to take care of the place, so they let their surroundings turn into trash. I just took the time to state elementary teachings about human nature… that some will take and never take part, will just sit back and do nothing good. It’s the human condition of free will. There are surely among such tenants those who would like to do more, have more, work more; and the good news is that America gives them the means to put the projects behind themselves and move on. (I love Charles Paine’s story… check it out, Gordon.)

    As to your numbers and your esteem for socialist countries, even partially socialist countries, Gordon, they will sink under socialism as the few take care of everyone, because why work, why try when everyone else is just sitting back and taking. Eventually, everyone jumps on board a free ship (why work?), and none will be left to feed the many.

    You may live and think and do as you see fit, Gordon, but you are seeking to bump heads with the way God made us… with that same free will. Some will use it wisely and some will not. And we Americans have the wonderful freedom to choose which way we’ll live, wisely or as takers. I do not wish to have you pull from my hands and heart the way I choose to live my life and thus present myself to the Lord when my stay ends.

    Uncle. I now give up on someone who might just not want to have the lights turned on as to the perfection of God’s free-willed creations, the concupisance which can sink us in little and big ways, and the wondrous opportunities of Americans. Read the encyclical on socialist/communism I already recommended to you. Stop listening to yourself, and read a holy pope’s view of such a system.

    +JMJ

  24. avatar Hopefull says:

    JLo, excellent response. Truly excellent. Thank you!

  25. avatar Nerina says:

    I’m very late to this conversation, but I echo Hopefull’s comment. Thank you, JLo.

    To Gordon,

    I think you’ve commented here before and if I remember correctly, you are not a practicing Catholic, but have friends who identify as Catholic. Am I remembering correctly? The only reason I ask is to concede that yes, Jesus had very strong words about wealth and no serious Catholic can deny what you say about Scripture. Catholics, however, are not sola scriptura people. We also consider the role of Sacred Tradition in our teachings. I’m NOT saying that ST somehow contradicts Jesus’ words and certainly the Church has always demanded a “preferential option for the poor,” but remember, too, that Jesus said, “the poor, you will always have with you.”

    Now this doesn’t mean that we say, “well, not much we can do. Sorry poor people.” But it does mean that we may use prudential judgment in determining how we address the issue of poverty. Again, most serious Catholics acknowledge the need to help out those who are less fortunate. Most serious Catholics do so by donating to efforts that they, as individuals, decide are most successful in alleviating suffering. We do not have to assent to allowing the state to be the sole mediator in addressing poverty. Frankly, how well do you think our government has done? Are you happy with the results of an ever-growing dependency class? Do you think their lives are more dignified addicted to the “drug” of welfare or other entitlements? You’re a smart man. Look at the studies on what gives people a sense of meaning and happiness – it isn’t being solely dependent on the government for the rest of their lives. In fact, even those who earn less, but earn it honestly, report more satisfaction and pride than those on receiving more welfare benefits. (see Arthur C. Brooks: Gross National Happiness)

  26. avatar Gordon says:

    JLo says that

    “there are those who just take and never do anything good with what is just given without working for it.”

    This is really disturbing. I have already pointed out to you that one-third of the people in poverty are CHILDREN. There are 15 million children in poverty in the U.S. That is over 21% of all the children in the U.S. So one out of every five children in the U.S. is in poverty, and this is the extent of your concern about them? What is wrong with you? This degree of indifference to human suffering is appalling, and no one who claims to be a Christian should be applauding it.

    Why do you think that everyone in poverty is just lazy? There are now over 49 million Americans living in poverty. How many of them do you know personally? Let me tell you: it is nowhere near enough of them for you to base a reasonable generalization, so please stop thinking that everyone in poverty looks just like the dozen or so that you know. The fact of the matter is that many of the people in poverty are single parents with children who are only qualified for a minimum wage job, because they have no specialized job skills. Now I want you to think about this for a minute. A single parent has to figure out a way to pay for all of the following: rent, food, transportation, clothing, health care for your child, and child care for your child, among other things. How could you pay for this on minimum wage? Do the math. Any single parent who wants the best for their child will do whatever it takes to get good health care and good child care, and pay the other bills. But in a country in which health care is unaffordable, and child care is extremely expensive, if you can only get a minimum wage job, then the best way for you to do these things for your child is to get welfare and Medicaid, because then you can stay home and provide your own child care, and you can actually take your kid to the doctor when he gets sick. And by the way, in every other industrialized nation in the world, health care is provided to all citizens through the state. That’s right, this is how it is in EVERY other industrialized nation in the world. So a little bit of what you call “utopia” already exists in every other industrialized nation in the world. How “utopian” is that? Well, since “utopia” mean “nowhere,” it follows that it isn’t “utopian” at all, is it? One of those countries is Canada, and 7 out of 10 Canadians say that Canadian health care is one of the very best things about being Canadian.

    What really makes me angry is your complete indifference to the suffering that comes with poverty. People in poverty suffer, and they suffer a lot. There is nothing more stressful than getting to the end of the month and not knowing how you are going to pay for rent and also buy groceries, because you don’t have enough money for both. There is nothing more painful than not being able to care for your child properly because you don’t have the money. Your complete indifference to that suffering is disgusting.

    Does government help? Well, as I already told you, the poor in several countries in Europe are significantly better off than the poor in the United States, and that is because those countries have more extensive social programs to help people in poverty. This is well documented, and I have already given you some of that documentation. So we already KNOW that you can help poor people with government programs, because several countries in Europe are already doing it. But we have evidence in the United States as well. Since the New Deal, we have reduced the rate of elderly poverty in America by 70%, and that is a direct result of Social Security and Medicare, which are government programs. So we know that government programs can reduce poverty.

    I don’t know to what extent your attitudes are based on ignorance or indifference. Maybe it’s based on ignorance, and that would be better, because if it is based on indifference, then that is really ugly. Jesus said “By their fruits shall ye know them,” and indifference to human suffering isn’t the kind of fruit that one would expect from any follower of his.

  27. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Gordon,
    Let me offer a few thoughts…

    I don’t think anyone here is indifferent to poverty. The question is whether the proposals I mocked in the original post above would actually help.

    Does government help? Well, as I already told you, the poor in several countries in Europe are significantly better off than the poor in the United States, and that is because those countries have more extensive social programs to help people in poverty.

    This is well documented, and I have already given you some of that documentation.

    no, in fact your conclusion doesn’t follow. Your data proves nothing. There are many, many, many reasons why poor people in Norway might be better off than they are in the US. One might be that their GDP per capita is higher (btw – I find it quite ironic that a country that was so extremely poor and is now filthy rich because of oil is being used by libs to prove this point). Another reason might be that the social cultures are much different. Are there inner cities exactly like ours? Do they have the same history? I think not. There are just so many factors and your data doesn’t prove any of it. The thing to prove would be to show that the points made in the original article would convincingly help the poor people you say we are indifferent to. I think I speak for all of us when I say that no one here is indifferent to poor people. I’d guess we each give significant amounts of our time and money to the poor. The question is whether an inefficient government should be the middle man. Quite honestly I don’t have a problem if someone would like to make that argument (you have yet to do so). What I do have a problem with (and this is why I posted this article in the first place) is someone making the claim that a Christian may only have one position on this and that we are compelled to support liberal economics. I have plenty of conservative economic posts I’d like to make, but that’s not what this site is about. This site is about orthodox Catholicism and those who align themselves with liberal economics are welcome. What they are not welcome to do is to pretend that there isn’t room for debate and that Catholicism compels us to push their liberal ideas.

    and with that I present to you my official endorsement for president:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhuC9ITQUzw

  28. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    and another good read:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2011/11/07/god-the-shakedown-artist-for-the-welfare-state/

    friendly reminder: the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be reduced to building the kingdom of God on earth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is forgiveness of sins through the God-man who loves us more than we can imagine. It is in Him we find true, eternal salvation. So whether you’re on the right or left in regard to economics, just remember that following Jesus Christ is much more than politics. It is following His lead of self-sacrificial love and doing it not under our own power (the stormy winds will knock us into the water), but relying utterly and completely on Him.

    I am happy to hold my economically left-leaning brothers and sisters hands in working for the sake of Our Lord.

  29. avatar JLo says:

    Thank you for those links and your wise counsel, Ben. I do pray that Gordon reads the Forbes article… it’s a gem.

    I will not answer any of Gordon’s name-calling toward me and his crediting me with things I neither said nor believe nor live, since I really meant “uncle” in my second post to him, realizing even before his last hit that he will not listen to anyone except those who parrot what he has come to believe is truth. Only prayer reaches the Gordons.

    As to your youtube link, I, too, wish for the same candidate, while I will certainly settle for the other Catholic in the race, all the while praying that whomever it is will be truly Prof. Kreeft’s stick-in-the-mud conservative in the head and bleeding-heart liberal in the heart, so I won’t have to hold my nose again when I vote for president, as I did the last time when a guy pretended to be leading conservatives. (My goodness, that is the longest sentence I’ve ever written… sorry!!)

    As always, may God bless America, this great and good country which still has much to offer our world. Lastly, on this day of days for our military, past and present, may God bless our vets.

    +JMJ

  30. avatar Gordon says:

    It isn’t just the poor in Norway who are better off than the poor in the United States. The poor in Germany are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in the Netherlands are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Canada are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Finland are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Sweden are better off than the poor in the U.S, and the poor in Belgium are better off than the poor in the U.S. And in all of these countries, they have much more extensive social programs than we have in the U.S. How many countries have to make the poor better off through government programs before you will concede that government programs can help the poor? And what about the reduction in elderly poverty by 70% since the advent of Social Security and Medicare? There is ample evidence that government programs can help the poor.

    I assume that in order to be a Christian, one must follow the teachings of Jesus. That is non-negotiable. And Jesus’ own statements express an unqualified, overwhelming concern for the poor. It is one of his principal concerns, as manifested by the fact that he talks about wealth and poverty more than he talks about almost anything else. So if you are going to call yourself a follower of Jesus, then you had better be as concerned about the poor as Jesus was. You say that you are, but then your political attitudes show little or no concern for the poor at all. Now, at this point I understand that one might think that government just cannot help here, but that isn’t your principal concern. Rather, your principal concern seems to be to protect the wealthy, and in that respect, your attitudes are so different from Jesus’ own attitudes that I find it a stretch to think of you as a follower of Jesus.

    As for not listening to anyone who doesn’t agree with me, who are you kidding? I’m not the one who takes my intellectual marching orders form someone else. I believe what is supported by the evidence, and I act as my conscience dictates. You, on the other hand, have to find someone else to do your thinking for you — someone to tell you how to live your life, because you don’t have the courage to think and choose for yourself. So someone tells you what to think, and you accept it. They tell you how to live, and you do it. And it doesn’t matter how many crusades, or inquisitions, or abuses happen, you will just follow along. Well, I’ve tried once again to shake you out of that trance, but I think I’m just wasting my time.

  31. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    It isn’t just the poor in Norway who are better off than the poor in the United States. The poor in Germany are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in the Netherlands are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Canada are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Finland are better off than the poor in the U.S., and the poor in Sweden are better off than the poor in the U.S, and the poor in Belgium are better off than the poor in the U.S.

    This still doesn’t prove your point. I could just as easily say that we should strip the stars of our flag because poor people who live in countries that have no stars on their flags are better off.

    There is ample evidence that government programs can help the poor.

    I suppose it depends on the government program. But certainly throwing money at the problem isn’t enough. Our current administration has proven how productive they are with massive amounts of money. It’s also worth noting that if we increase our debt to help the poor now, we are stealing from our future generations. Which I’m sure you’ll say that is why we should tax the rich more. I’m not necessarily opposed to doing that (although certainly not significantly), but I don’t trust the gov’t will do the right thing with that increased revenue.

    So if you are going to call yourself a follower of Jesus, then you had better be as concerned about the poor as Jesus was.

    I thought we already covered this. You are the one saying we aren’t concerned about the poor. Distrusting our government as a middle man is not the same thing as not caring for the poor.

    Rather, your principal concern seems to be to protect the wealthy, and in that respect, your attitudes are so different from Jesus’ own attitudes that I find it a stretch to think of you as a follower of Jesus.

    oh please. We are Catholic. We have tradition and we have a pope and a Magisterium. None of them (reading the same scriptures you are) are coming to the same conclusions as you are, Gordon. If it’s so obvious that Jesus would have wanted our governments to “spread the wealth” then why are none of the voices saying so. Why are our Saints not lobbyists?

    I’m not the one who takes my intellectual marching orders form someone else. I believe what is supported by the evidence, and I act as my conscience dictates. You, on the other hand, have to find someone else to do your thinking for you — someone to tell you how to live your life, because you don’t have the courage to think and choose for yourself. So someone tells you what to think, and you accept it. They tell you how to live, and you do it. And it doesn’t matter how many crusades, or inquisitions, or abuses happen, you will just follow along. Well, I’ve tried once again to shake you out of that trance, but I think I’m just wasting my time.

    stellar! You are right – none of us think for ourselves. We are all forced to be Catholics with a gun pointed to our heads. How stupid we are! Could it be that we might just have come to the same conclusions as those we trust? Could it be that there are some who thought like you, but reasoned their way into the Church? Your ignorance is beginning to show, sir, and you are grasping at straws. Check out this site:
    http://whyimcatholic.com/
    maybe you can find the story that says, “I decided to become Catholic because I didn’t want to think for myself and find it easier to take marching orders from someone else”

    I’d have to say that my desire to continue this conversation has probably come to an end. See you again in about 6 months when your liberal Catholic friends and family (who you are so nobly defending) get you riled up enough to come back.

  32. avatar Nerina says:

    Gordon,

    Sigh. I hate deconstructing straw men, yet straw men are the only thing offered in your posts. We agree that the poor must be provided for. We disagree on the method of relief. When you say European countries have poor people who are “better off” how do you define that? Because when I look at stories about people living in “projects” in London, it’s hard to see how they are better off. Plus, European countries are falling apart. They can’t sustain their generous entitlement programs. Have you not been paying attention to what’s been happening with Greece and Italy and Ireland and Portugal? Do you really think the U.S. can avoid a similar fate given the trajectory of our spending?

    Even if you confiscated all the wealth of a certain percentage of our population, we still wouldn’t come close to addressing the deficit. Not even close.

    And for the last time, my family alone gave $9000 to various charities last year including Catholic Relief Services (which feeds the poor – the really, really poor), Food for the Poor, and the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Not to mention donations to our local food cupboard. I would bet money that most people on this board are similarly generous. But go ahead and assert that we want to protect wealth and ignore the poor in defiance of our Christian faith.

    What many poor people need is a job – not more programs that encourage them to remain dependent.

  33. avatar militia says:

    We had a diocesan collection for Somalia this morning. Does anyone know if the Diocese or any of its affiliates deducts a handling fee before forwarding such collections, such as for Katrina, or the Southern Tier Flood, or even for other general church charity recipients. THere seem to be more “2nd collections” lately. Before I give I’d like to know; otherwise I’d donate directly…..just wondering….

  34. avatar JLo says:

    One last post from me, please… for those who thought the MSM were truly misled and misleading in naming the Holy Father a leader of the Wall Street Occupiers: you won’t want to miss George Weigel’s splendid article on the subject. He places the progressives in the Church right where they belong… in the wrong and dying out. Read it here http://catholicexchange.com/2011/11/14/137749/print/

  35. avatar annonymouse says:

    Gordon, your notion of Jesus and His teaching is JUST PLAIN WRONG!

    You mention the rich young man of the Gospel. Jesus instructed him to go, sell all that he has, and give his money to the poor. IMPLICIT in that instruction was the FREEDOM that young man had to either accept or reject the instruction. The Rich Young Man chose unwisely, and walked away. Jesus did not take away his freedom. Nor did Jesus say that he was unjustly rich, or that his riches weren’t “morally” his to begin with (what a ludicrous comment – tell that to Tom Golisano whose brilliant idea created Paychex – does he not deserve the riches his idea hath wrought? but I digress).

    It is no different today. The “system” that you espouse takes away the very freedom that is implicit in the Christ’s Gospel message. You would prefer to take from the rich (because in your opinion it isn’t rightfully theirs to begin with) and redistribute it. The rich have no freedom to stop you, because you use the power of the State to achieve your goal. All well and good, but DIAMETRICALLY opposed to the message and mission of Christ Jesus.

    And to top it off, the “system” you espouse simply doesn’t work. Pretty soon, there is simply less wealth to take and spread around. Note the Soviet experiment – everyone was poor and everyone was miserable (the politically powerful elite excepted).

    At the core of Jesus’ message is the notion of FREE WILL. Jesus had no problem with the rich young man – the Gospel said that Jesus looked on him with LOVE, in fact. Jesus respected him enough to let the young man decide for himself whether to follow the Lord or not.

  36. avatar Hopefull says:

    There are so many excellent posts on this thread, and wonderful answers to Gordon or anyone who sincerely is trying to understand the consistency of Catholic Teaching with what Jesus taught. I had one other observation to offer. Among some who compulsively focus on the “poor” as if that were all that mattered, it seems like an obsession gone awry.

    There are many ways to be poor — in health, in education, in relationships, in faith, in hope, in love,etc or, ss the beatitude says: “Poor in spirit.” But the obsession as if being poor in money were the only thing that matters actually seems more like an obsession with money in reverse — whether hoarding it or tossing it away, it seems to be center stage in their lives and in the rewriting of Jesus teachings. Maybe it is partly because it is an area that humans seem to have “control” over, and hence control over what God is supposed to do for us in return. But that is an illusion. And when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He certainly didn’t mention a soup kitchen.

    It’s funny how Catholics are often defending themselves against the accusation that we do believe in the importance of good works, and not just in in faith alone. Here we seem to be defending against a criticism of not valuing good works enough. It’s a good thing God is doing the judging!

  37. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    It’s funny how Catholics are often defending themselves against the accusation that we do believe in the importance of good works, and not just in in faith alone. Here we seem to be defending against a criticism of not valuing good works enough. It’s a good thing God is doing the judging!

    Interesting observation, Hopefull. Yes, indeedy, many liberals I’ve talked to are the most judgmental people I’ve met. One guy once told me the only thing he absolutely believed in was that what goes around comes around. He was scared for himself because he had done some stupid things in his youth. In this sense, we should all desire to be Christian because grace and mercy is about the best message we have to offer. It’s the first part of coming to the realization that sin exists and that we are all sinners that seems to be tricky today.

  38. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    All the Wall Street “groups” are protesting against are the multi millionaire feral “looters” who have ransacked our economy and our monetary system to get what they want without working for it. The little people want to work!!

  39. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    I really think some of the people on this blog ought to keep a flashlight next to their beds at night. On Christmas eve they may be visited by some ghosts from the past, present and future if they are not careful!!! LOL LOL LOL

  40. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I really think some of the people on this blog ought to keep a flashlight next to their beds at night. On Christmas eve they may be visited by some ghosts from the past, present and future if they are not careful!!! LOL LOL LOL

    what in the world is that supposed to mean? you’re equating us with Scrooge?

  41. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    what in the world is that supposed to mean? you’re equating us with Scrooge?

    Well it ain’t Tiny Tim!!

  42. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Raymond,
    Apparently you missed the part where just about everyone has expressed interest in caring for the poor. Your judgment against us that we don’t is most unwelcome. It is a false dichotomy to say if you are opposed to the secular, socialist, machine that our federal government has become, then you are a scrooge. The next time you make a comment like that, I will delete it w/out offering for you to make a clarification. This blog was never intended to put our readers and staff on trial. It is a place where ideas are presented and scrutiny is most welcome.

  43. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Ah Ben:: Delete me without a chance at clarification if you must!!! It is one of the oldest Vatican traditions!!!

    I would encourage you to be inquisitorial rather than inquisitional!!

  44. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Raymond,
    What makes you think you can come here and be judgmental and call people names? What does that add to the discussion? Why should we as hosts of this blog allow our conversations to stoop to that level? If you have something legitimate to add to the conversation, your are more than welcome to do so. We have never deleted a polite and reasonable comment no matter if we disagree with it. Quite honestly we hardly delete any comments unless they are really nasty, which is what your comments are verging on. You’ve obviously left some good comments before and I hope to keep you around here, so let’s just please drop the sweeping judgments and name-calling and work together at refining our ideas.

  45. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Archbishop Dolan New York considers the care of the poor to be so very important that he regularly works in the soup kitchen of the Franciscans of the Renewal in the South Bronx. I do not know if it improves the quality of the food but may improve the quality of his humility which we are all working for in our own lives!

  46. avatar militia says:

    I’d be very careful of taking some Bishop-y PR event and judging its spiritual merits. Isn’t this the same bishop with the visible support of the gay agenda, or at least parts of it? Isn’t he the one who jollied through the TV coverage of the NY bishops’ meeting with Cuomo and the real issues?

    When we see a bishop go to jail for picketing an abortion clinic, I might be impressed. Martyrs do impress me. But let’s wait and see where things end up with PR events at soup-kitchens. The final judgment isn’t that far away. Meanwhile, isn’t he only an unworthy servant who is just doing his duty?

  47. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Militia

    Yes, yes, and yes. He is also the archbishop appointed to his present post by His Holiness the Pope, Benedict the 16th, Successor to Peter, and Supreme Pontiff!!

  48. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Archbishop Dolan New York considers the care of the poor to be so very important

    I have to ask you again, Raymond, are you suggesting that anyone here doesn’t consider the care of the poor to be important? Again, I will state it is a false dichotomy to say if you are opposed to the secular, socialist, machine that our federal government has become, then you do not care about the poor. If you’d like to rebut those statements, feel free, otherwise you are just stoking the fire.

  49. avatar militia says:

    Raymond, yet he is an archbishop…..but what is your point? We know them by their fruits, not by their titles.

  50. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    He is an archbishop appointed by the present pope and is part of the pope’s staff/administration. As in any corporate structure, the pope is ultimately responsible for the actions of his subordinates. When you criticize the subordinate, you criticize the “boss”.

    It seems that some people are questioning Archbishop Dolan’s sincerity by referring to his regular work at a soup kitchen as a “photo op” when the picture was only released to friends of the order. It tends to trivialize his efforts with the poor and to give the impression he is exploiting their situation for his own gain.

    It has always been my opinion that authentic charity should involve a sense of justice and honesty on both the part of the giver and on the part of the receiver.

  51. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    “Pass strong anti-sweatshop legislation.
    Doesn’t seem like a significant problem in 2011 America”

    There are sweat shops in America: filthy rat infested fast food establishments that pay minimum wages, migrant camps with sub standard conditions which jeopardize families, migrant work which poisons farm workers, and wealthy people who hire and treat as sub humans their “wop” (without paper) domestic help, and a whole plethora of sex worker being exploited on a daily basis in all of our major cities.

  52. avatar militia says:

    “He is an archbishop appointed by the present pope and is part of the pope’s staff/administration. As in any corporate structure, the pope is ultimately responsible for the actions of his subordinates. When you criticize the subordinate, you criticize the “boss”.

    Hasn’t the Vatican been desperately, for years, making the case that the pope is NOT a bishop’s “boss” and hence NOT responsible for a bishop’s actions?


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