Bishop Robert McElroy on Pope Francis and an Economy that Kills

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego writes (via Vatican Insider and A Pope Francis Lexicon):

Francis shares the conviction of St. John Paul II in Centesimus Annus that the substantial creativity and freedom inherent in market economies must be “circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places [them] at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious” (CA 42).

But while the experience of John Paul in the statist dictatorship of Eastern Europe after World War II led him to underscore the ways in which government control threatens the freedom of the human person in economic and social life, Pope Francis brings the perspective of the Global South to bear, revealing that free markets can generate a totalitarian ethos no less dangerous to the common good and the dignity of the human person.

For this reason, the preferential option for the poor becomes for Pope Francis the fundamental prism through which to evaluate capitalism and free market systems. It is through the eyes and the experience of those who are poorest among us that we must judge the moral legitimacy of every economic system and discern the nature of the juridical circumscription that is necessary to promote a just economic order….

In carrying out this evaluation, Pope Francis emphasizes that it is capitalism in the concrete, not as a philosophical system, which must be scrutinized….

The first destructive pattern of twenty-first century global capitalism is the strangling force of inequality that it breeds in the world….

Francis identifies this inequality as the foundation for a process of exclusion that cuts immense segments of society off from meaningful participation in social, political and economic life. It gives rise to a financial system that rules rather than serves humanity and a capitalism that discards those who have no utility as consumers….

If direct destruction to human lives and the human community constitute the central failing of the global economy of our day, the destruction to the world which is our common home constitutes a second, powerfully devastating consequence of capitalist structures, according to Francis. The logic of market systems that privatize profits while placing the environmental destruction wrought by such profits in the public sphere has contributed enormously to the cascade of destruction that is suffocating the earth.…

The final central defect that Pope Francis identifies in the global capitalism of the present day is a spiritual one. In its twin foundations of the ever greater accumulation of material possessions and economic power, capitalism is inherently spiritually corrosive….

Only when it is recognized that free markets are not a first principle of economic justice, but merely a means to achieve such justice, can the construction of an effective and balanced juridical order within and among nations realistically advance.

Before Synod on Young People, Millennial Catholics Share Their Perspectives

via OSV Newsweekly:

Our Sunday Visitor sought to provide an even wider sample of notable Catholics age 30 and under in the United States, what animates them in the good work they’re doing and what challenges they see facing young people today….

In a field such as social justice, it can be hard, as Edith Avila Olea said, when “wins seem so incremental” and one’s advocacy can be “undone with the stroke of a pen.” She is driven by faith and love as well as the wisdom of both St. Teresa of Calcutta — whose idea that love is one’s only job — and Blessed Oscar Romero. As the justice and peace associate director of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, Olea sees her role as that of “just another gardener watering the plants set before [her] and planting new seeds others will grow.”…

Though she works for a secular newspaper and writes and edits columns on a wide variety of subjects currently on the minds and social media feeds of many Americans — some recent columns have discussed President Donald Trump’s nationalism, the fairness of the economy and the verdict of former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar’s trial — Elizabeth Bruenig doesn’t see her work as purely secular. Inspired by St. Augustine, who also helped bring about her conversion to Catholicism, Bruenig said that she likes “the idea of trying to shed some light for Christians who are wondering, well, where does faith fit into this [political or broader cultural] circumstance?”…

Unlike many young adults of her generation, Jordan Denari Duffner discovered her vocation early — something she said Pope Francis regularly promotes and which she hopes young adults take to heart. As a junior in high school, she said her family received an anti-Muslim chain email. It was a defining moment in her journey of helping Catholics and Muslims — more broadly, all religions — better relate and dialogue with each other and to see the opportunities in religious diversity rather than the challenges….

As assistant editor of Education for Justice, a project of Center for Concern, Anna Misleh helps to inform readers about the many social justice issues prevalent in the world, including human rights abuses and mass migration, and their solutions found in the teachings of Catholic social tradition. Her work, which involves publishing, marketing, social media, speaking at conferences and many other tasks, seems a natural fit for one who as a child attended marches in Washington, D.C., discussed injustice and politics at the dinner table with her family, and in high school and college went on service trips to places such as Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Vietnam and Rome.

You can check out the full article with all of the millennial Catholic profiles here.

Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “Humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives “halfway”, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable, in imitation of Christ who gave himself completely for our salvation.”

Cardinal Cupich: It’s Time for Action on Gun Violence

Embed from Getty Images
via Chicago Catholic:

Cardinal Cupich called on Illinois legislators to work together to enact restrictions that could help curtail gun violence in a Feb. 28 press conference in Springfield…

Cardinal Cupich said, “I have come to Springfield, our state’s capital, this morning to join my voice to those of countless young people. They along with families suffering grievous loss cry out to us with the demand for action. Our young people are shaming the adult world to recall that the principal rights among all those that we hold at any level are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights have been denied.”…

“The time for words is over,” he said. “What is required now is action. Our elected officials may not be able to do everything all at once, and they may not be able to save everyone. But in the name of those murdered children, they must act in a bipartisan way to begin the process of walking away from the moral compromises that doom our society to inaction.”…

“Our elected officials have the power to enact common-sense laws that limit gun ownership to those who have proven they can handle the responsibility that comes with it, just as we do with automobiles,” Cardinal Cupich said. “They have the power to make incremental changes in the kinds of weapons that are for sale.”…

“They can stop saying that they will pray for victims and uphold family values if that is the only response they can give to these tragedies,” Cardinal Cupich said. “The time for words is over. Our children are telling us what is required now is action.”…

“We must never allow the desire for money to eclipse our most sacred duty to keep our children safe. When even small measures to limit access to such items as armor-piercing bullets, high-volume magazines and bump stocks are opposed, we must ask those opposing them, ‘Whom are you protecting?’”

Why the Parkland Students Should Go on Strike

Elizabeth Bruenig writes:

Opponents of gun control know that the stories of ordinary people whose lives have been destroyed have a particular strength in democratic contexts, which is why so many have been quick to slander the students who have spoken up. That smear campaign, coupled with the remarkably ill-conceived proposal from President Trump that we ask teachers and tutors to double as marksmen and assassins in order to prevent school shootings, suggests that a new energy has emerged in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The gun lobby is out of ideas for holding off this reckoning and knows that these students, with their heartbroken honesty and furious authenticity, could spark a real shift.

Which is all the more reason for these students to forge ahead — and to turn from conversation to demonstration if circumstances don’t change quickly….

What should the kids strike for? For any number of things: to demand that politicians stop accepting money from the National Rifle Association and the rest of the gun lobby, quit hiding behind suicidal interpretations of the Second Amendment and put legislation for human flourishing over spurious constitutional arguments (imagined or otherwise) and plain greed. It’s neither fair nor reasonable to expect these kids — or any victims or survivors of mass killings — to draft specific policy. Their central demand should be that legislators undertake that process seriously and in good faith, which they ought to have been doing all along. Legislators need to do what needs to be done: bans, buybacks, some combinations thereof. What they need to be told is to do it.

The task before the Parkland students — and other students who choose to join them — is bigger than any one piece of legislation. It’s about reversing a climate of tolerance, not toward specific mass shootings but toward the conditions that permit them. Achieving that will take time and effort and community support. As of now, nationwide student walkouts are already planned, and some districts are claiming they’ll take disciplinary action against participants. A strike could easily be longer-term and affect students dramatically — though members of their communities can ease the impact.