In a Time of Racial Despair, the Church Must Speak up

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

The Church in the United States today is made up of almost fifty percent of people of color. This diversity should be celebrated and welcomed-and it should also be accompanied by an aggressive commitment to fostering reconciliation as a necessary condition toward promoting justice and a more intentional solidarity among those in our pews.

Recent polling confirms that most Americans are pessimistic about the current state of race relations in this country, with rising rates of violence and hatred. It seems all the more critical that the Church become not just a leading voice against racism, but a prominent player actively fostering dialogue and promoting concrete solutions within our communities.

The Special Task Force has some helpful recommendations – including a new, comprehensive statement on racism from the full body of bishops – but actual change will require the commitment of parishes and priests, community leaders and churchgoers of all varieties, law enforcement and the laity.


Pope Francis: Reject Inhumane Forms of Globalization

via Vatican News:

Before all else, I would restate my conviction that a world economic system that discards men, women and children because they are no longer considered useful or productive according to criteria drawn from the world of business or other organizations, is unacceptable, because it is inhumane.  This lack of concern for persons is a sign of regression and dehumanization in any political or economic system.  Those who cause or allow others to be discarded – whether refugees, children who are abused or enslaved, or the poor who die on our streets in cold weather – become themselves like soulless machines.  For they implicitly accept the principle that they too, sooner or later, will be discarded, when they no longer prove useful to a society that has made mammon, the god of money, the centre of its attention.

In 1991, Saint John Paul II, responding to the fall of oppressive political systems and the progressive integration of markets that we have come to call globalization, warned of the risk that an ideology of capitalism would become widespread.  This would entail little or no interest for the realities of marginalization, exploitation and human alienation, a lack of concern for the great numbers of people still living in conditions of grave material and moral poverty, and a blind faith in the unbridled development of market forces alone.  My Predecessor asked if such an economic system would be the model to propose to those seeking the road to genuine economic and social progress, and offered a clearly negative response.  This is not the way (cf. Centesimus Annus, 42).

Sadly, the dangers that troubled Saint John Paul II have largely come to pass.  At the same time, we have seen the spread of many concrete efforts on the part of individuals and institutions to reverse the ills produced by an irresponsible globalization.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom I had the joy of canonizing several months ago, and who is a symbol and icon of our time, in some way represents and recapitulates those efforts.  She bent down to comfort the poorest of the poor, left to die on the streets, recognizing in each of them their God-given dignity.  She was accepting of every human life, whether unborn or abandoned and discarded, and she made her voice heard by the powers of this world, calling them to acknowledge the crimes of poverty that they themselves were responsible for (cf. Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016).

This is the first attitude leading to fraternal and cooperative globalization.  It is necessary above all for each of us, personally, to overcome our indifference to the needs of the poor.  We need to learn “com-passion” for those suffering from persecution, loneliness, forced displacement or separation from their families.  We need to learn to “suffer with” those who lack access to health care, or who endure hunger, cold or heat.

This compassion will enable those with responsibilities in the worlds of finance and politics to use their intelligence and their resources not merely to control and monitor the effects of globalization, but also to help leaders at different political levels – regional, national and international – to correct its orientation whenever necessary.  For politics and the economy ought to include the exercise of the virtue of prudence.



Around the Web

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Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Trump’s ‘forgotten man’ turns out to be Goldman Sachs by Michael Sean Winters: “President Trump and Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are busy letting Wall Street off the hook. We know where this led before.”

The ‘best fortnight in a decade’ for conservatives? Uh-oh. by Michael Gerson: “President Trump has managed to taunt and alienate some of our closest allies — Mexico and Australia (!) — while continuing an NC-17-rated love fest with Russia. He has engaged in moral equivalence that places America on the level of Vladimir Putin’s bloody dictatorship. “Well, you think our country’s so innocent?” he said — a statement of such obscenity that it would haunt any liberal to the grave. He has issued an immigration executive order of unparalleled incompetence and cruelty, further victimizing refugees who are already fate’s punching bag. He has lied about things large (election fraud) and small (inaugural crowd size), refused to allow facts to modify his claims, and attempted to create his own reality through the repetition of deception. He has abused his standing as president to attack individuals, from a respected judge to the movie star who took over his God-awful reality-TV show. He has demonstrated a limitless appetite for organizational chaos and selected a staff that leaks like a salad spinner. He has become a massively polarizing figure within the United States and a risible figure on the global stage.”

Refugees are part of America’s fabric and its promise by Washington Post: “By conflating a dangerous fiction about immigrants with blatant disrespect for an equal branch of government, President Trump fans the xenophobic flames he did so much to ignite during the presidential campaign.”

I’m Pro-Life, and Pro-Refugee by Scott Arbeiter: “I must be “pro” everything needed for that child not just to be born, but to flourish. This means that I need to be pro education and pro job growth, and pro many other things I never considered as connected to my pro-life convictions. And I need to be ready to stand against every form of economic injustice, racism and individual or corporate greed that destroys the life of a family and a community.”

Five myths about anti-Semitism by Yair Rosenberg: “From top Iranian officials who blame the Talmud for the international drug trade to British political activists who claim that the Mossad is stealing their shoes, anti-Jewish bigotry can be bewildering and bizarre. But given the prejudice’s longevity, virulence and recent resurgence in Europe and America — witness the waves of bomb threats against dozens of Jewish centers nationwide in the past month and the controversy over the Trump administration’s repeated refusal to include Jews in its Holocaust memorial statement — it’s well worth debunking common misconceptions that impede our ability to fight it.”

We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path by Michael McFaul: “Understanding Putin’s methods for consolidating autocracy in Russia might help us stop autocratic tendencies in the Trump era now, before it’s too late.”

Republicans to predatory companies: Grab as much as you can by Catherine Rampell: “The White House may be in chaos. But at least Congress is addressing the issue Americans care about most: making it easier for the finance industry to rip them off.”

A record number of poor kids are eating breakfast — thanks to a program many conservatives hate by Caitlin Dewey: “A record number of low-income children have begun to eat breakfast at school. But the policy most credited with boosting their numbers may be on the chopping block under President Trump.”

Why the rise of authoritarianism is a global catastrophe by Garry Kasparov and Thor Halvorssen: “If injustice and oppression aren’t bad enough, authoritarian governments bear an enormous social cost. Dictator-led countries have higher rates of mental illness, lower levels of health and life expectancy, and, as Amartya Sen famously argued, higher susceptibility to famine.”

What We’re Fighting For by Phil Klay: “From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.”

What American liberals can learn from the anti-Nazi resistance by Noah Strote: “Liberals might have to alter, or at least sideline, some of their most prized platforms on abortion or secularism in the public sphere. Conservatives might need to consider welfare policy proposals they have long condemned, such as single-payer health care. Compromise on that profound level seems almost impossible at the moment. But Trump’s threat to the republic grows in proportion to the widening ideological fissure between left and right. As the German example shows, bridging the worldviews of former enemies may be the only way to avoid the abyss.”

The True Purpose of Trumpism by Jonathan Chait: “Trumpism combines an instinctive belief in zero-sum relations between countries with a narrow and retrograde definition of American identity.”

Republicans, Protect the Nation by Evan McMullin: “President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security.”

Severely disabled kids’ lives at risk, parents say, as Texas enacts Medicaid cost-savings plan by J. David McSwane: “Championed in 2013 by Republican Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, the changes allowed the state to cut costs and streamline health care by handing off administration of Medicaid services for medically vulnerable children to private health groups called managed care organizations, or MCOs. Instead of the state wrangling bills from thousands of doctors, it cuts a few big checks to the MCOs, which decide how much they will pay doctors and which services they will cover. One way for MCOs to turn a profit is to eliminate services they view as unnecessary. But parents say they’re cutting services they desperately need.”

My grandfather helped create Captain America for times like these by Megan Margulies: “More than five years after his death, my grandfather and his creation seemed newly meaningful. In life, my grandfather stood up for justice and taught me about compassion and understanding. Captain America contains all of that for me on a personal level, but now, in this time of turmoil for America, it’s clear that Cap represents something much larger, something we need as a nation.”


The Fundamental Political Question: Increasingly Unfettered Capitalism vs. An Economy That Respects Human Dignity

In his remarks at the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bishop Robert McElroy described what he views as the fundamental political question of our age and explains where Catholic Social Teaching stands on the matter:

The fundamental political question of our age is whether our economic structures and systems in the United States will enjoy ever greater freedom or whether they will be located effectively within a juridical structure which seeks to safeguard the dignity of the human person and the common good of our nation.

In that battle, the tradition of Catholic social teaching is unequivocally on the side of strong governmental and societal protections for the powerless, the worker, the homeless, the hungry, those without decent medical care, the unemployed. This stance of the Church’s teaching flows from the teaching of the Book of Genesis: The creation is the gift of God to all of humanity. Thus in the most fundamental way, there is a universal destination for all of the material goods that exist in this world. Wealth is a common heritage, not at its core a right of lineage or acquisition.

For this reason, free markets do not constitute a first principle of economic justice. Their moral worth is instrumental in nature and must be structured by government to accomplish the common good.

In Catholic teaching, the very rights which are being denied in our society to large numbers of those who live in our nation are intrinsic human rights in Catholic teaching: The right to medical care; to decent housing; to the protection of human life, from conception to natural death; of the right to food; of the right to work. Catholic teaching sees these rights not merely as points for negotiation, provided only if there is excess in society after the workings of the free market system accomplished their distribution of the nation’s wealth. Rather, these rights are basic claims which every man, woman and family has upon our nation as a whole.