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.



Bishop Robert McElroy: Now We Must All Become Disrupters

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At the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego delivered a strong message:

President Trump was the candidate of disruption. He was the disrupter, he said. Well now, we must all become disrupters. We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.

Updated with exact quote at 5:30 PM EST.


Stephen Colbert Offers Intellectual and Moral Clarity in Response to Trump

Stephen Colbert appears to have found his groove at the Late Show. In the video below, he tears apart Donald Trump’s unhinged press conference. While self-loathing progressives and mushy moderates worry that comedians mocking Trump’s flagrant ignorance and evisceration of democratic norms is somehow undermining their farcical, one-sided attempts at generating dialogue with people who defend the indefensible, Colbert is choosing to do his best to offer the intellectual and moral clarity that is needed at this moment in American history. He is behaving like a comedian, citizen, and patriot should—delivering laughs while defending factual reality and the highest American ideals. Instead of criticizing comedians who refuse to intentionally placate or indulge the willful ignorance of many, these critics should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing their part to stand up for American democracy at this moment of maximum peril—or if they are too busy trying to show off their non-partisan or non-ideological “reasonableness” to do their duty.

Not just those who aspire to be good citizens, but those who aspire to be good Christians, should ask this question of themselves. Christianity is either radical or a bourgeois counterfeit. Where others are choosing silence, complacency, or outright complicity, Colbert is rising to the moment. Are you?


Trump May Mobilize 100,000 National Guard Troops to Round Up Unauthorized Immigrants

via the AP:

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.


“The Gutting of Democracies is Real”: Pope Francis Sends Strong Message to Grassroots Leaders

Pope Francis has sent a powerful letter to the participants of the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements. Here are some highlights:

  • For some time, the crisis of the prevailing paradigm has confronted us. I am speaking of a system that causes enormous suffering to the human family, simultaneously assaulting people’s dignity and our Common Home in order to sustain the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few.
  • The grave danger is to disown our neighbors. When we do so, we deny their humanity and our own humanity without realizing it; we deny ourselves, and we deny the most important Commandments of Jesus. Herein lies the danger, the dehumanization. But here we also find an opportunity: that the light of the love of neighbor may illuminate the Earth with its stunning brightness like a lightning bolt in the dark; that it may wake us up and let true humanity burst through with authentic resistance, resilience and persistence
  • The economic system that has the god of money at its center, and that sometimes acts with the brutality of the robbers in the parable, inflicts injuries that to a criminal degree have remained neglected.
  • Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates. The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real. The system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong; and when it can no longer be denied, the same power that spawned this state of affairs sets about manipulating fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a “non-neighbor”.
  • Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not. You can become neighbor to whomever you meet in need, and you will do so if you have compassion in your heart.
  • I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice…
  • The ecological crisis is real…we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of nature…. Let us not fall into denial. Time is running out. Let us act. I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.
  • No people is criminal and no religion is terrorist. Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist. No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent…. There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia.

Shepard Smith to Trump: Stop “Fake News” Excuse, Answer Russia Questions

Shepard Smith of Fox News denounced Donald Trump today for dodging questions about the link between members of his campaign and Russia, saying, “It’s crazy what we’re watching every day.” He emphasized that the American people have a right to know and showed support for the reporters who are demanding answers.