THE SERVANT GENERAL
ASSAULTS ON FAITH, FAMILY AND LIFE
CHARITY OR SOCIAL JUSTICE
August 3, 2017
We hear so much about social justice in our Church today,
especially in the western world. And we are perplexed when
we see social justice trumping defense of the culture of life.
We see immigration and climate change as seemingly more important
or of a higher priority than opposing abortion and same-sex
marriage. In the USA, we see the support of many Catholics
for the Democratic Party of Death. In fact, abortion-embracing
Democrats who are Catholics are given Communion without question.
In looking to social justice, we have done injustice to our
authentic faith. In looking to help a neighbor in need, we
have neglected Christ and his teachings.
Bishops in a bind with hands tied by “golden
July 31, 2017 (The Wanderer) - Consider the Good Samaritan.
He wasn’t a government bureaucrat. He helped people
voluntarily with his own money. The man in the ditch
undoubtedly thanked the Good Samaritan. But here’s the
secret of Christian charity: A Christian Samaritan answers
the injured man, “No, thank you, for giving me the opportunity
to serve a brother in Christ.”
Thank you thank you.
Has a government bureaucrat ever thanked you?
Christian charity is a theological virtue as St. Paul
says, “the greatest of these is caritas”
Justice is also a virtue, a cardinal virtue.
And like all virtues, charity and justice are voluntary.
On the other hand, today’s
ideological brand called “social justice” is mandatory.
It isn’t justice at all, because it is not voluntary.
always requires government force. Even if they call it “charity.”
If you’re good at math, look at it this way: “Social
Justice minus government force equals zero.”
So “government charity” is an oxymoron. The government
can’t love it can only command.
The very notion of something called “mandatory charity”
is Doublethink, right out of Orwell and Big Brother.
But it is also a dagger aimed at the heart of true, voluntary
After all, we can hardly call it virtuous to take money from
a man by force, give it to a third party, and pat ourselves
on the back for our generosity. But that’s what “social
justice” does. All the time.
And this temptation has become so much a part of American
political life that even many Catholic bishops and intellectuals
have fallen for it.
Voluntary charity. Mandatory
“social justice.” These two opposing visions of
virtue are in conflict today in the Catholic Church
and that conflict has a history, a rationale, and a
In the nineteenth century, our
bishops’ pastoral letters warned of sin and Hell. With
voluntary contributions large and small, those bishops and
their flocks built thousands of churches, schools, convents,
One hundred years ago, The Catholic Encyclopedia defined charity
the old-fashioned way: “public charity is more mechanical;
less sympathetic; more wasteful; it encourages people to claim
public relief as a right”; and, most important, it “inflicts
a mortal injury upon the spontaneity of charity and the sense
of personal responsibility towards the unfortunate.”
That view of charity slowly changed in the first half of the
twentieth century; after Vatican II, it was quickly turned
Enter the “seamless garment.” Exit preaching on
the unpopular truths of Humanae Vitae.
And today, now that we’ve
graduated from charity to “social justice,” we’re
closing churches, schools, and convents by the thousands and
selling them to mosques, corporations, and casino operators.
And all these once-revered institutions have gone into the
tank, big time, for government funding to the tune of
hundreds of billions of dollars over the past fifty years,
Why? Because it’s easier to get money from politicians
than from voluntary donors.
And why is that?
It’s not their money.
In his Through the Eye of the Needle, a brilliant
history of charity in the late Roman Empire, Princeton historian
Peter Brown explains.
Briefly put, Rome’s wealthy nobility vied with Caesar
to give more “corn” (wheat) to the masses. These
secular leaders did so because, in return, they would be rewarded
with “glory, honor, and gratitude.”
Consider our current day. When Catholic welfare agencies annually
receive hundreds of millions from their government paymasters,
who gets the credit?
Not the bishop he’s just running an NGO funded
by federal contracts.
Not the Church. It’s not her money.
Not the faithful. They pay their taxes with a gun to their
head. They gain no merit in Heaven for that.
The answer is, none of the above.
The politician gets the “glory, honor, and gratitude.”
And no politician gives away our money for nothing.
When the politician gives the bishops taxpayer dollars, what
does he get in return?
It’s simple. (And politicians love simple).
The bishops warmly bestow upon the “generous”
(with our money) politician the Catholic “seal of approval.”
And what if the generous politician is pro-abortion? After
all, canon 915 requires that such perpetrators of manifest
scandal be denied the Eucharist. For that question, Timothy
Cardinal Dolan has a ready answer. “Most [bishops] don’t
think it’s [canon 915] something for which we have to
go to the mat,” he told Cruxmag.com three years ago.
In 2006, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
of Washington effectively said: The bishops certainly weren’t
going to bite the hands that feed them!
“After all,” he told a gathering of Canada’s
bishops, “[taxpayer] money is needed for Catholic hospitals,
charities and education.”
Let me put it another way. If
the price is right, we won’t follow canon law. Yes,
the priceless imprimatur of Holy Mother Church is sold for
a measly few hundred million dollars a year
One is reminded of Peter Kreeft, who once observed that Judas
was the first bishop who ever received a government grant.
There are two questions here: First, why does the federal
government want to take over Christian charity? And second,
why would our bishops ever let it happen?
Well, the government part is easy. The
Catholic Church is government’s major competitor. To
tyrants, we’re the enemy. Holy Mother Church is the
last bulwark of freedom against tyranny. And
her role includes defending us against what Pope Benedict
calls the dictatorship of relativism.
Right now, in the West, the
Church is the only institution left that will defend the family,
marriage, and sexual morality and, as Pope Benedict
wrote the past week, the barque of Peter is taking on water,
almost capsizing. That’s why the Vatican bureaucrats
got mad at Donald Trump’s historic speech in Poland
because he defended Christendom, the Church, the family,
and Western civilization more than the Vatican does!
Take a look around you. Who else is?
But wait what’s wrong with government charity?
Are you against social workers?
Well, Mother Teresa once pointed
out that her sisters were not social workers. “We worship
Christ in the Blessed Sacrament for four hours every morning,
and then we go out and find Him all day in the gutters of
Calcutta,” she said. “Social workers can’t
They can’t do that here, either. These days, if a government
social worker, school employee, Army chaplain, or physician
even mentions Jesus at work, she’s likely to lose her
job. Even go to jail.
The government that punishes
these simple acts of Christian charity is the same government
sanctioned and applauded by bishops who are desperate to keep
the federal money flowing to their welfare bureaucracies.
The bishops are in a bind. Their hands are tied by “golden
handcuffs” and alas, their lips are sealed as
It’s up to the laity to free them.
This article was originally published in The Wanderer and
is re-published with permission of the author.