1. […] Read it. One wishes to speak carefully here, but without letting pass a compound of willful ignorance, crude ethics, and cruder social doctrine: a compound, indeed, of the sorts of small, soft hearted errors that transform charity into social work, love of the Body of Christ into “altruism,” and a sense of personal obligation to a scheme of bureaucratic methods for getting others to pay for my sense of moral obligation.  Let us note a few things. […]

  2. Mr. Cheeks, if Mr. Wilson ran the Church it would probably be such an institution that only confirmed the reasons – at which I can only take a stab in the dark – you left in the first place. I’ll pray for you, sir.

  3. Mr. Wade, you’re probably right, but the doctrines would be better written. And, thank you for your prayers…that’s Robert C. Cheeks, we don’t need any pneumatic confusion.

  4. As an aside: for the webmaster, In my opinion this revolving blog thing is the pits. I have dial up and power is generated by an aging, overweight hamster so it’s very slow and unreliable and takes a very long time to read my pithy comments let alone the wisdom of strangers. So let’s fix it..and don’t forget to post the number of current ‘comments’ with the blog…thank you!

  5. This trend may not extend across the Atlantic, but — I get the impression that, in many cases, the same liberal Catholics who are in the vanguard of protecting the pure secular State from any taint of Christian culture… are the exact same ones who have no qualms about invoking divine sanction when trying to impose their will on the community in regards to their own pet issues (in addition to the Global War On Poverty, the death penalty and amnesty for illegal immigrants also leap to mind.)

    Maybe I’m missing something, but this would seem to put them in something of a bind. (Or rather, it would if these folks actually respected anything other than what causes possess popularity and worldly power.)

    If they claim their goal is non-Christian, then obviously they have no business using the Church to further said goal.

    If, on the other hand, their agenda originates in — or is even closely compatible with Christianity — then they obviously have no business tut-tutting at more orthodox Christians lobby government on behalf of less fashionable aims.

    After all, what if I were an Objectivist and I feel no obligation whatsoever toward starving children? By their own frequent insistence on keeping public and religious spheres separate, where do “social-justice” Catholics get off imposing their religious beliefs on me?

    They might claim that their actual lobbying is based on natural reason arguments accessible to non-Christians, and that it is only a happy coincidence that Church teaching coincides with thoughtful liberal wisdom… but then one could just as easily come up with analogous (and I daresay more compelling) secular arguments for banning everything from abortion to no-fault divorce.

  6. “tut-tutting at more orthodox Christians lobby government”

    read: “tut-tutting at more orthodox Christians WHO lobby government”

  7. “The prodigal son ultimately benefited from a time of suffering and hunger, I believe.”
    Assuming there is a correlation between the struggles of the prodigal son and those of the poor is highly problematic. The underlying assumption is that the poor are merely reaping the negative consequences of their actions and therefore ignores the systematic injustices that are often the causes of poverty. Are we saying that poverty is the punishment for those that live a life of decadence? Furthermore, to assert that “conditions of equality would at last render the particularities of persons a matter of total indifference.” contrasts sharply with the practice of Jubilee, a tradition that extends further back that two thousand years. Does this ancient practice of wealth redistribution undermine the particularities of persons or recognize the innate value of all persons and therefore seek to rectify social ills that value one person over another.

  8. Of course you’re correct to point out Caritas’ astonishing amnesia.

    But (as you seem to imply in 2) and 3)) the Church’s charity is most definitely not restricted in a mutual aid fashion to its adherents.

    Christian charity seeks to support those who are severed from family and community and unable (for whatever reason, including entirely blameful reasons!) to earn.

    The welfare state as it currently exists, gives people no unconditional help. On the contrary it is determined that they must make themselves available to employers, even where such employers simply don’t exist. A distributist analysis would point out that such people, lacking their own access to the means of production whereby they might earn their own bread independently, are correctly speaking dispossessed.

    Developing that understanding into the modern economy has lead people to recommend Basic Income as a means of ensuring that everyone shares in the common birthright of the earth’s resources and the ingenuity of past generations. It’s a great pity that Caritas haven’t developed their thinking in this regard.

  9. The commentators have rightly suggested the limits of the analysis here — an essay conceived originally as a short contribution to the “blog” part of FPR and then developed, despite intentions, into a more lengthy and varied essay. What’s lacking here, most crucially, is any attempt to outline the practice of caritas as it addresses widespread social poverty in a context where a managerial state encourages, indeed seeks to secure, individual alienation by means of ensuring long term state-dependence through state-support.

    My argument was, though not stated with this focus, that caritas is always a personal action — not necessarily in the sense of a private citizen acting only at his individual initiative, but certainly in the sense that there must be personal initiative of some kind for caritas really to be caritas. The Caritas Europa proposal actually seeks to create a permanent condition of support that would function independently of any spirit of caritas (aside, of course, from the possible even probable initial spirit that led to the proposal itself).

    Benedict XVI has followed Paul VI in arguing (as I shall on FPR next week) that justice is actually enfolded within charity: it is a minimal expression of charity to give to another what is his prior to giving him what is one’s own. The Welfare State seeks to institutionalize certain aspects of charity (the transfer of one’s substance) while rendering indifferent the actual act of gift, founded in gratuity and love. One could express this as the welfare state’s seeking to substitute justice for charity, but Benedict, I think, is right to say (again) that that makes no sense because justice is already an act within charity. So how may we more adequately describe what seem to me as glariing inadequacies in welfare statism? One way would be to note that it seeks to replace personal agency with bureaucratic technology, and thus removes that agency from caritas and from justice alike: two virtues that really do require that agency for their legitimacy (I’m suggesting what willl appear as a paradox to many, including leo XIII, that justice no less than charity, or rather, justice as a particular expression of charity, is always personal — and the attempt to lead this component by constitutes an act of falsification).

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