Friday, May 18, 2012

Social Justice and Catholics

Social Justice is a movement which argues that it is the Government's responsibility to provide others with what is perceived missing to establish what is perceived by them as an equity or to use the euphemism, a level playing field, and in reality an equality of outcome. ( To better understand this position it is worth reading my book on Individualism and Neo-Progressivism)

In the NY Times today some author states:

A broad, upbeat theme of social justice will be enough for Obama to reach persuadable Catholics, who can interpret the message in concert with their beliefs. The president might quote Pope John Paul II, who once said, “Radical changes in world politics leave America with a heightened responsibility to be, for the world, an example of a genuinely free, democratic, just and humane society.” They must hear the message often and at least 15 percent of the time in Spanish.

Now the interpretation of personal duty, rather than group duty, is a matter of concern regarding the treatment of others.  One could argue that the Sermon on the Mount was a call to personal duty, not a call to the Government of Rome to establish programs for the poor. The duty is individual, and individuals may group together to provide necessary services to those in need but the taxing and forced participation is questionable at best. Those who support Social Justice support a program of forced participation in satisfying needs perceived by a few but supported by the many.

In contrast the same people will force the Church to supply services that it objects to. Yet the Church would object to that force but ironically some of the same voices will press for the forced contributions under the rubric of social justice.

One wonders how one achieves what is sought for the doing of good deeds when one is forced to do so under the rubric of Social Justice. Is it the duty of Government or of the Church or of the individual.

The author continues:

What would a Catholic voter outreach program look like? The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t exactly let political operatives walk in the front door and set up shop, but there are several progressive Catholic organizations — Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance, Catholic Democrats — that the campaign could engage first to build a volunteer corps. Within each district office, the campaign could identify Catholic precinct captains to recruit Catholic door-knockers to reach out to their friends from church. Then there’s advertising. It would be more difficult to construct this architecture from scratch, but however it’s done, it’s a must: a positive social justice message could be what tips the balance toward re-election for the president.

 No, political operatives do not walk in the front doors, in fact one would suspect if they were allowed the tax benefit would be promptly revoked, albeit it appears not to be the case in other churches.

Catholics are individuals for the most part. With the general exception of the Sophists one finds in Jesuits, the arguments, if any, are limited. Catholics in this election will not be any block. If they ever were. Rome seems to have taken the position of admonishing Governments while leaving the individual free from any duty. I frankly find this difficult to rationalize with the teachings of th first seven centuries. Yet in many ways it was a response to Socialism and Communism, the concept of Social Justice.