Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Are The Shepherds Silent When The Sheep Are Getting Fleeced?

Since I work for a secular non profit with the least of the least, assuming I still have a job after medicaid cuts, I will make less that $125.00 more dollars per year under Ryan's budget.  Bill and Melinda Gates will make about $6 billion more.  Hmmm that's enough to run my non profit, which works with some 1400 mentally Ill clients, for 540 years.

At the inner most depths of my heart and to the chagrin of my head, the USCCB obsession with pelvic issues misses the real problems in the country entirely---and I think purposefully.  As much as Pope Benedict gives me heartburn, he hit the nail on the head with his encyclical Caritas in Veritate.  Why has the USCCB remained utterly silent about this encyclical and it's message for not just the US, but the entire world?  Are our bishops so enamored of rubbing elbows with the 1% that they have no concern for the 99% except for what we do in our bedrooms?  Here's a tweet for the USCCB:  The 99% has no desire to substitute bedroom gymnastics for economic survival.  It's hard to enjoy sex when you are worried you can't pay the rent for the bedroom.

The following excerpt was written by Daniel C McGuire for Religion Dispatches.  It's cogent and lays the arguments against the Ryan budget vis a vis Catholic social teaching very simply and very powerfully.

......Among the losers in the Ryan-Romney budget, are programs that help the 99 percent: medicaid, medicare, food stamps, health insurance (one-half of the $5 trillion in cuts over a decade would come from health care even though our health care potpourri is the worst in the developed world.) Other losers include: preschool programs, environmental and financial regulations, Pell grants, Head Start, and mortgage guarantees. (These numbers mean our health as a nation is only going to get much worse.)

As to winners, it is the bloated rich who get help they do not need and could never deserve. As Robert Reich reports, in 2010 15,600 super-rich households (the top 1/10th of 1 percent) got 37 percent of all the economic gains that year with the rest going to those in the top 10 percent. The Ryan budget defends greed over need. Extend the tax breaks and further deregulate the dogs of greed. And as for the military, ah yes, the military, Ryan said they did not ask enough, though they have never been known for modesty in their requests. With the military budget around $2 million per minute, there is no need to further feed that black hole in the economy—but feed it Ryan would. Kill-power is prized more highly than Head Start and Medicare. (How does any real Christian justify this kind of economic disparity?  I suppose it's by reminding us endlessly our job is to suffer life on Earth in order to enjoy heaven after death.)

Enter the Real Catholic Social Teaching
When the real Catholic social teaching enters the conversation it’s nothing less than a wake-up call to the modern world.

The cumbersome title of the Vatican document signals its bold mission: Toward Reform in the International Financial and Monetary System in the Context of Global Public Authority. The Westphalian model giving sovereignty to individual states made sense in 1648. It makes no sense now given the interpenetration of economies and technology and our shared ecological peril. Our current need is for a Declaration of Interdependence and a “public, supranational authority with universal jurisdiction.” Pope after pope call for a “true world political authority” and a “world bank” to preside over a “global, universal common good.” Nations need to “transfer a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities.” (All of this makes perfect sense unless one is convinced the US has some sort of manifest destiny to rule the world at the expense of 99% of it's own people and the rest of humanity.)

What is called for is not a tyrannical despotic world authority. The Catholic tradition of “subsidiarity” means that nothing should be done by a higher authority that can be done by active participation at lower levels. Right-wingers like Paul Ryan grab that one word, “subsidiarity” and claim it supports their maniacal hatred of government. It doesn’t. It calls for a more active citizenship, not voter suppression. Internationally it calls for “a new model of a more cohesive, polyarchic international society that respects every people’s identity within the multifaceted riches of a single humanity.” The goal is a solidarity that would end poverty and obsessive reliance on military violence for security. (It's really a shame Pope Benedict won't consider the same kind of structure for the Church itself.  He might find if he did the USCCB might pay more attention to Caritas in Veritate.)

The Vatican document supports fair taxation, greed-controlling regulation and bailouts “with public funds” when necessary. It excoriates “neoliberalism,” the greed-is-good creed of the right wing. Maggie Thatcher used it, and when she entered office 1 out of 10 Britons was in poverty; when she left, 1 out of every 4 (1 in 3 children) was impoverished. Reagan was married to it—as are his worshiping successors—and the 99% continue to lose while the 1% gorge and the economy sinks. It’s not complicated. It’s dumb. And, as the Vatican says, it’s immoral.

Catholic social teaching is not wild-eyed idealism; it is a pragmatic realization that without the taming of greed and without poverty-ending sharing, we face global economic chaos.
To see that, just open your eyes.


How many more governments will we see fall into social chaos because their citizens can't afford food?  Odds are there will be a lot more.  Syria is now expanding their war against their own citizens across their national borders as evidenced by Syrian soldiers firing on refugees in Turkey.  This only begs the question about what happens to all those refugees once they get out of Syria, and Syria is just the latest in a list of Middle East countries whose people are drowning in oil but somehow starving at the same time.  How is this possible?  I seriously doubt saber rattling with Iran is going to answer this fundamental question when it has far more to do with how global wealth is distributed and how global corporations and speculators fix prices.

There is no doubt in my mind that Pope Benedict wrote Caritas in Veritate to be taken seriously.  After all there's no future for Catholicism in a world gone nuts with hunger that also happens to have gone nuts with small arms and light weapons.  All the US Bishops need do is look South to Mexico to see what happens when desperate people have lots of small arms and have taken up the drug trade for an occupation.  Not a pretty picture.

Really and seriously, given the global situation and our real domestic problems what do our bishops think they are doing with their anti Catholic religious freedom crusade and that crusade over......birth control? No wonder thinking Catholics can't take the USCCB seriously. Top all this off with ongoing never ending abuse scandal and it's no wonder very few take these guys serious.  Why should we?

News Flash:  Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination race for personal as well as political reasons. The personal reason was the hospitalization of his three year old daughter who suffers from Trisomy 18.  The political reason was his very likely losing his home state of Pennsylvania to Mitt Romney. Even though Rick did not endorse Romney, I doubt that we have heard the last from Rick and would not fall over in shock if Romney finally picks him for Veep.  Biden vs Santorum would at least draw some interest in Pennsylvania.  That is assuming the current trials and tribulations of the Philadelphia Archdiocese can be shoved off the front pages.  With their sexual culture warrior out of the race, it will be interesting to see if the USCCB ceases being vagina ideologues and takes a much wider view of things.


  1. What conservative Catholics and Protestants will always reply with is that helping the poor is an act of charity and that charity is done out of freedom and not coercion. Catholics like the late William F Buckley and Russell Kirk made these arguments throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's. I recall Micheal Novak making a similar argument on a radio show 15 years ago. Yes, I agree helping the poor is an act of charity except that doesn't mean that is the only way that the poor are to be helped. Our personal duty to help the poor through works of mercy does not prohibit the state from duties to serve all of its citizens. That is where conservatism
    started losing me years ago.

    John Fremont

    1. I'm still trying to find the gospel passage where Jesus says take from the poor and give to the rich so they can give to the poor. The Republicans lost me in 1984 when it was pretty obvious trickle down economics was voodoo economics. I can't believe we are rerunning this lie again.

    2. " I can't believewe arererunning this lie again." . Believe it. I really saw through it after Hurricane Katrina ,when conservative media began recycling the whole " welfare state made the poor helpless in the face of disaster" meme. That so many conservatives repeated this despite taking a victory lap just a few years before on passing the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, in which they touted that their policies were finally breaking the cycle of dependency among the poor. Furthermore, George W's Compassionate Conservatism was continued on this and that this was all of the more reason to vote GOP if you want to help the needy. Then Katrina happened and these hits like "The GOP Ended Welfare As We Know It" went off the playlist and the ol GOP hits of yesteryear like "Welfare Makes Poor People Lazy" roared back up the charts again. It was at that point I began reevaluating my conservative and libertarian political leanings much more closely. Well this , the Iraq war and the
      many conservative pundits defending "enhanced interrogation" all did.
      John Fremont

  2. Well said. What the "conservatives" ignore is that their arguments, including those about tax cuts and charities, are failing miserably.

  3. I think the problem with Iran, and with North Korea is simple: Lack of trust between the various parties. Yes, it is or will be over resources too. But until we have a majority of humans on both sides willing to truly forgive the other side for past transgressions whether real or simply perceived, the centralized authority structure won't work. Until we can guarantee that selected leaders will work for the common good, nothing can change for the better. There is something in human nature which makes it natural to think that the other is lazy and taking advantage of your hard work - whether it is day shift vs. night shift in a manufacturing plant or the political realities of international trade. It is really easy to decide that some 'other' is abusing your good nature and must be held to account for that abuse. Violently if there is no other obvious method.

    It is a simple thing to put out something like Caritas in Veritate. And yet, after how many centuries even The Vatican cannot be trusted to put those principles into effect for example via its bank with any measure of public confidence.