MSW on Libertarianism and Publishing Sophomoric Distortions of Catholic Teaching

Michael Sean Winters writes:

I do not think 10 minutes passed after America magazine’s publication of Stephanie Slade’s essay “A Libertarian Case for the Common Good” before my inbox filled with emails asking when I would respond. Pointing out the incompatibility of libertarianism and Catholic social thought has been one of the principal focuses of my writing here at NCR and of my work with Professor Stephen Schneck organizing the three “Erroneous Autonomy” conferences, all of which furthered the argument that libertarianism cannot be baptized….

Catholic social teaching begins with the community, not the individual. We believe that government is a positive good in social life and, while all human activity is stained by original sin, government springs from pre-lapsarian yearnings of the human heart to live in community. Since Rerum Novarum was issued in 1891, the church has taught that government must step in when private charities are insufficient to meet basic human needs and that the market does not always yield the best solutions and should be subject to regulation by the state. To characterize state involvement in the life of society as “interference in people’s lives” is to fundamentally misunderstand how Catholic teaching views the state, society and the individual. Slade wrestles with none of this.

Her ignorance of Catholic teaching is matched by ignorance of how capitalism actually works….

Which leads to a larger question I had as I read it: Why was this published? Apparently, I was not the only person to ask that question because editor-in-chief, Jesuit Fr. Matt Malone published a comment that, while referring to a different libertarian essay published last year at America, and written by Arthur Brooks, came out now, in the wake of Ms. Slade’s libertarian essay….

Malone claims America is decidedly “nonideological” and, instead, that their outlook is “Catholic and Jesuit, in that order.” But that is the problem. Libertarianism is not Catholic. It is not even close to Catholic. In its premises, in its arguments, and in the real world consequences that it engenders, libertarianism is the enemy of Catholic social thought. Malone may have been wowed by the admittedly charming Mr. Brooks at some fancy event for “public intellectuals” at Aspen or on the Upper West Side, but his failure to recognize that libertarianism is not an option for Catholics who actually believe what the church teaches about social justice is astonishing. Publishing Slade’s sophomoric essay in entirely inexplicable.

It breaks my heart to see what has happened to America. At a time when Donald Trump is president and Francis is pope, they are publishing Arthur Brooks and Stephanie Slade? It just doesn’t make any sense. Malone should do penance at the tomb of Pope Pius XI and decide what it means for America to be a Catholic and a Jesuit journal at a time when the insights of Catholic social doctrine are so obviously needed in our body politic.

It’s Evil Not to Do Good

via Vatican News:

“Many times we hear some saying, ‘I don’t hurt anyone.’ That’s fine,” the Pope said. “But do you do good?”

Pope Francis said many people “do not do evil, but neither do they do any good”. These people pass their lives “in indifference, apathy, and lukewarmness.”

He said this attitude of simply not doing evil is contrary to the Gospel and the nature of young people. And he gave them a simple formula for life:

“It’s good not to do evil. But it’s evil not to do good!”

Pope Francis said evil spreads “where there are no bold Christians to oppose it with goodness.”

“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it with our silence.”


Why Banning Alex Jones from Social Media Sites Isn’t a Problem

Christine Emba writes:

No more wild-eyed claims that 9/11 was a hoax, that the government was behind the Sandy Hook shooting or that the Parkland kids are “crisis actors.” No more spittle-flecked speculation about “white genocide” or how chemtrails are used for population control. Now, if you want to learn more about how the “New World Order” is bent on corralling us all into prison camps, you’re going to have to type Infow into the address bar yourself.

That’s right: This week, Apple, Facebook and YouTube removed the majority of noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s content from their platforms, to the dismay of crackpots across the Web….

The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” That’s it. It does not say that private companies are required to host your speech on their platforms, or that they must promote your content. You can say what you like, but no one else is obliged to help you get your message out. The fact that this simple concept remains so misunderstood reflects either a terrific ignorance or a willful misreading — most likely, it’s a mix. But for those genuinely worried about the fate of our public discourse, take heart: Alex Jones is an exceptional case, and exceptions don’t make the rule — especially in a country that agonizes over freedom of expression as much as we do.

Three Traits Young People Crave from the Church

Millennial Catholic Michael Bayer has a new article in Catholic News Service’s “In Light of Faith” series:

— Authenticity: Young people have access to more information than our ancestors dreamed possible. We are inundated by ceaseless digital interactions and immersed in a sea of competing ideas….

And we hunger for a church that can name explicitly these precise, practical things we’re experiencing, while guiding us through a spiritual discernment of what it all means.

— Charity: As is being ubiquitously discussed, our civilization is descending into a toxic polarization and reflexive tribalism that makes vulnerable, loving encounters a rarity rather than the norm….

Bullying follows us around to a degree unimaginable to our parents, with peers able to harass others in the middle of the night from the safety of anonymous online accounts.

At the same time, we show up to church, craving to hear that, contrary to what this cacophony of critical voices insists, we are lovable, and we are loved. But far too often the message that’s broadcast is a list of sins we had better be avoiding, lest we condemn ourselves to eternal damnation….

— Humility: We want to experience a church that is human as well as divine. We want to hear leaders candidly confess the immeasurable damage that has been inflicted on the faithful as part of the clergy abuse scandal and the immense hurt pervasively experienced by LGBT persons in the church. We want youth ministers who aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and bishops who can acknowledge, “We got that one wrong.”

You can read the full article here.

Pope Francis: We Must Not Be Indifferent to the Cry of Hunger

via Vatican News:

Only by listening to the simplest requests of people and by placing ourselves next to their concrete existential situations, can we be listened to when speaking of higher values”.

We are instruments, he said, of God’s love for humanity that is “hungry for bread, for freedom, for justice, for peace, and above all for His divine grace, which never fails”.

Therefore, Francis said, the Gospel invites us to be available and industrious, just like that boy who only had five loaves but offered them.

“Faced with the cry of hunger – all sorts of “hunger” – of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we cannot remain detached and calm spectators. The proclamation of Christ, the bread of eternal life, requires a generous commitment of solidarity for the poor, the weak, the last, and the defenseless. This action of proximity and charity is the best test of our faith, both at the personal level, and as a community” he said.