In the National Catholic Register there appeared this piece by Mark Shea. This is a piece that sounds like it would be found in the Reporter rather than Register, with its chanting of the "social and economic justice is what it's all about" and "rich folks get all the breaks and poor folks get none" mantras. I quote, "a good working definition of American justice in the present hour is that things which are sins when ordinary people do them are not sins when rich and powerful ones do them." That is simply incorrect, particularly with abortion. The fact is that our heathen culture looks upon abortion for the rich and for the poor as being equally laudible. The defining attributes of American injustice are the ways in which core moral principles are being savaged today, vis-a-vis:
- The murder of children in abortion
- The widespread acceptance of contraception
- The acceptance of euthanasia (even involuntary euthanasia)
- The various forms of abuse of embryoes (cloning, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization)
- The acceptance and even celebration of homosexual behaviors
As you read through this piece, you'll see more alleged examples of how the "wealthy" get away with crimes that cause "the poor" to get punished. While I don't doubt the veracity of these complaints, I hardly think these iniquities constitute the core evils of our times. One of the examples Shea cited was that of the OWS fellow stating that he wants us all to pay his tuition versus the corporation who wanted a bailout. Whether or not Shea intended it, this placed the OWS guy in the light of the poor hapless victim. For the record, I find both of these "gimmee" attempts to be equally deplorable (being one who worked my own way through college).
Shea then ends his piece with "It our place as Catholics to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." That is simply incorrect. Anyone with any knowledge of the Baltimore Catechism can recite the main mission of the Catholic, and that is to get him/herself into heaven. Along with that, he/she is to bring as many with him/her as possible. Moreover, we know that is the main purpose why Jesus founded the Church - to provide means and assistance to gettng to heaven. Yes - we are to practice charitible works, namely the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. By the way - one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to "Comfort the Afllicted". While those works are crucial to our mission, they do not constitute the core of our mission. Moreover, we'll see nothing in any teaching of the Catholic Church about "afflicting the comfortable". It may well be that in the course of our Christian witness, some who see us may be rendered uncomfortable, but that at most will be a side effect, solely dependent on the spiritual state of the person in question. Our mission would be to offer witness to that person and perhaps bring him/her to conversion; whether or not affliction happens in the process is not a pressing concern, one way or the other.
So from where does "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" originate? That statement has been attributed to Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement. She was a convert to Catholicism in the early 20th century, but held onto many socialist ideas. I now link to an excellent blog piece detailing more of Day's history, that shows why she may well have proven dangerous to the Church, honorable motives notwithstanding.
I'll close this piece now by linking to an excellent analysis of the OWS blight by Thomas Sowell. Please take the time to read Sowell's biographical sketch at the bottom. He, like I, belong to the much-fabled "99%" who actually work for a living and pull our weight. By the way - have you noticed something? This OWS crowd claims they are the "99 percent". Well, if that's the case, and they've all taken to lounging about in tents these past few months, would we not have expected the country to grind to a halt? C'mon! With all the workers joining the Pee Party, who'd be left to keep the industries, etc humming? But there hasn't been that much of a change - in fact, no change whatsoever. Were these people working at all? Gotta wonder!!!