Next to Trump, Irish PM Delivers Powerful Speech Praising Immigrants, US Legacy as a Refuge

Irish leader Enda Kenny praised the economic, social, political, and cultural contributions of Irish immigrants at a St. Patrick’s Day event, while standing next to President Donald Trump today. He also pointed to the United States’ historic role for those facing oppression and hunger, “We believed in the shelter of America, and the compassion of America, and the opportunity of America. We came, and we became Americans.” Without mentioning the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump presidency, the contrast was clear and the message was powerful:

How Trump’s “America First” Budget Violates 5 Key Justice Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

This post began as a “top 5 shockingly immoral aspects of President Trump’s budget proposal.” The problem is that virtually the entire budget is shockingly immoral and unjust. Instead, I want to highlight 5 touchstones of Catholic Social Teaching on justice. I will provide one example of its violation; however, for every single one, you can find at least five instances of its violation in Trump’s ‘America First’ budget.

Human dignity can only be lived, realized, and promoted in community. The overarching frame for justice is justice as participation: Basic justice demands the establishment of minimum levels of participation in the life of the human community for all persons.” (Economic Justice for All, 77).

  1. Environmental Justice: “We’re not funding that anymore”

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis states, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life” (23). In addition to acknowledging the scientific consensus, Pope Francis clearly articulates the obligation to care for creation, to protect access to needed resources for the poor and future generations – and to do so with extreme urgency. It is hard to imagine an American budget proposal more antithetical to Laudato Si than President Trump’s budget.  OMB Director Mick Mulvaney calls all programs addressing climate change “a waste of money,” and simply stated, “We’re not funding that anymore.” While the 30% proposed cut to the Environmental Protection Agency garners headlines, a closer look at the proposal shows that virtually every single program addressing climate change and rising sea levels—no matter the department—is on the chopping block.

  1. Distributive Justice: “Cannot justify their existence”

In Catholic theology, distributive justice is not optional. The Second Vatican Council stated: “The right to have a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and one’s family belongs to everyone. The fathers and doctors of the Church held this view, teaching that we are obliged to come to the relief of the poor and to do so not merely out of our superfluous goods”(26). Repeatedly, the Trump administration seems to claim that we cannot afford many of the social protection programs aimed at distributive justice. The budget calls for eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program and $1 billion in programs aimed at low-income housing, home ownership, and community development from HUD. When he visited Washington, DC, Pope Francis could not have been clearer “We can find no social or moral justification, no justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.” The cuts to Housing and Urban Development are just one example of many violations of distributive justice in this budget.

In 1986, Economic Justice for All explained the moral requirements of distributive justice and it remains applicable today:  “Minimum material resources are an absolute necessity for human life. If persons are to be recognized as members of the human community, then the community has an obligation to help fulfill these basic needs unless an absolute scarcity of resources makes this strictly impossible. No such scarcity exists in the United States today” (70). Read More

Over 100 Christian Leaders Express Opposition to Trump’s Plan to Slash Foreign Assistance Budget

In a letter to Congressional leaders, over 100 Christian leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, express their opposition to disproportionate cuts to America’s foreign assistance programs:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leader Pelosi,

As Christian leaders, it’s an honor to represent dedicated and faithful citizens living in every congressional district in this country.  We’re writing to share our support for the International Affairs Budget that every day brings hope to poor, hungry, vulnerable and displaced men, women and children around the world.

America is blessed with fertile land, abundant natural resources, a strong economy, and faithful citizens who value religious freedom. But beyond our borders, many countries experience unparalleled suffering and loss of life due to extreme poverty, disease, natural disasters, and conflict. Today, there are 65 million displaced people, the most since World War II, and 795 million people still go to bed hungry every night.

Matthew 25 tells us when we serve the least of these, we are serving the Lord.  As people of faith, we cannot turn our back on those in desperate need. We are grateful for America’s global development and diplomacy programs that have been instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties, and keeping America safe and secure. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have strong legacies of supporting humanitarian and development programs that enable countless people to pull themselves out of poverty and live life with dignity.  It is through these diplomatic and development tools that we’ve seen countries and communities build peaceful, productive societies that do not turn to violence or terrorism.

At a time when we’re especially security conscious, the International Affairs Budget is crucial to demonstrating our values to the world, building friendships with other nations, and lowering security risks around the world.

With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio. Additionally, it promotes freedom and human rights, protecting religious freedom for millions around the world.

As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the “shining city upon a hill.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Pope Francis: Damned Are Those Who Don’t Care For The Poor And Homeless

via Vatican Radio:

Reflecting on the Gospel story of Lazarus, from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis warned against those who place their trust in things of the flesh. Trusting in vanity, pride and riches, he said, will distance us from the Lord. He highlighted the fruitfulness of those who trust in the Lord and the sterility of those who rely only on themselves and the things they can control.

When people live in a closed environment, surrounded by wealth and vanity and trusting in their own devices, the Pope said, those people lose their sense of direction and have no idea of their limitations. Exactly as happens to the rich man in the Gospel, who spends his time at dinner parties and takes no notice of the poor man lying at his door.

He knew who that poor man was, he even knew his name, but he just didn’t care, the Pope said. Was he a sinner? Yes, he was, and though the Lord forgives those who repent, this man’s heart was leading him on a one-way road to death. There is a moment, Pope Francis stressed, a line that we cross when sin turns into corruption.

This man was not simply a sinner but a corrupt person because he was aware of all the suffering but he couldn’t care less. Damned are those who place their hope in themselves, the Pope said, because there is nothing more treacherous than a hardened heart. Once we are on that road, he added, it’s very hard for our hearts to be healed.


The Right To Healthcare Is Owed, Not Earned

For the better part of a decade, the healthcare debate has been at the center of American political discourse—thanks largely to the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In both the 2012 and 2016 presidential races, the debate on whether to repeal or expand the ACA was a major component of each candidate’s platform—leading to some highly publicized conversations about the best way to ensure coverage for Americans.

At least that’s how it looked on the surface.

On its face, this entire debate  appeared to be about mechanics and methodology. What is the best way to run the system? What should and shouldn’t be regulated?

But if you strip it down to the underlying ideologies underpinning the approaches, you’ll discover that the debate is less about the how and more about the what.

What is healthcare in the first place?

Is it a right—something to which all people are entitled regardless of income, job status, age, or health?

Or is it a consumer good—a service that’s meant to be bought and sold on the market?

Approached from an entirely secular, political perspective, this is, admittedly, a complex question worthy of debate. However, for any Catholic, the answer should be a pretty simple.

Healthcare is a right. It absolutely is. And that’s not my opinion, but the position of the Church:

Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance. – The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2288

All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable. — USCCB

It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege. — Pope Francis

This really shouldn’t be a controversial position for us. Healthcare is a right because we are committed to the right to life. And we cannot, in good conscience, promote and defend the right to life only to turn our backs on those who are without the necessary resources to actually exercise it. If we do, then we are hypocrites.

This does not mean that all Catholics must support an entirely government-run or single payer healthcare system. That’s not the position that the Church takes.

Instead, it means that we should adopt the mindset that healthcare is something owed, not earned. It is something to which all of us are entitled, simply because we are living, breathing children of God.

There are no exceptions here. Cost, labor, and time may be challenges, but they are not insurmountable, nor are they excuses for inaction. As Catholics, we have a Christian duty to support and promote healthcare as a right and do whatever we can, in our own capacity, to ensure all can take advantage of it.

Matthew Tyson is a Catholic writer and marketing strategist from Alabama. He is an advocate for pro-life ideology on the Left and a co-founder of The New Pro-Life Movement.

Reflections on Pope Francis and His Impact on His Fourth Anniversary

Here are a few of the numerous articles reflecting on Pope Francis’ four years as pope:

A Crux rundown of memorable moments from Francis’s first four years: “Hearing the Holy Father speak aloud the words “the land of the free and the home of the brave” from the dais of the U.S. Congress in September 2015 was an unexpectedly emotional occasion for me. Despite such bitter polarization in recent years, here was the leader of the Catholic Church bringing political leaders from both sides of the aisle together in a rare moment of genuine joy and enthusiasm that no State of the Union could come close to matching! In that address, Francis used the occasion to recast the American Dream through the lens of Catholic social teaching. It proved to be an occasion to reconsider what’s best about America-and I hope it served as an examination of conscience for the entire nation. (Christopher White)”

Cardinal Cupich: Francis is giving new life to Vatican II reforms by Joshua McElwee: “The hopes and the joys. But also, the struggles, the sorrows that people have. He is united with them. The church claims to be an expert in humanity, and an expert about humanity. I think that the pope is really trying to, in many ways, express the aspirations of humanity but also the challenges it faces today, much like the document Gaudium et spes did. That’s how I would sum it up.”

Pope Francis’ fourth anniversary: will the reforms work? by Michael Sean Winters: “We have had four years in which the universal pastor of the church has unrelentingly called attention to the plight of the poor. Could a future pope turn his back on the Global South and the poverty of the people there in order to make nice with the wealthy of the West? Is it conceivable that a future pope would join forces with the movements of political reaction and national chauvinism, turning his back on the plight of migrants and refugees?”

Pope Francis: Top 10 Most Important Moments by Wyatt Massey: “In “Laudato Si,’” the pope criticized consumerism, discussed the effects of climate change on the poor and grounded his argument deeply in the Bible and church tradition. The encyclical, published June 18, 2015, officially added teaching on the environment to the body of Catholic Social Teaching.”

Highlights of Year 4 by OSV: “Upon receipt of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen in recognition of his work to promote European unification in early May, Pope Francis asks of the continent: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?””

Four years on, Francis’s pastoral revolution is the heart of it all Austen Ivereigh: “Its impact may be deep and wide-ranging, but the essence of the Francis reform, clearly visible after four years, is a re-focussing on the Church’s pastoral mission to humanity.”