The following comes from an Oct. 9 story by Jeff Mirus on CatholicCulture.org.
Periodically the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development issues “action alerts” urging American Catholics to contact their senators and representatives to urge them to take one position or another on various legislative deadlocks and initiatives. The latest was today’s alert to urge people to advocate programs to address poverty, replace sequestration with a “balanced” plan, raise the debt ceiling, and pass the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.
Pope Francis recently stated in his interview with Eugenio Scalfari:
I say that politics is the most important of the civil activities and has its own field of action, which is not that of religion. Political institutions are secular by definition and operate in independent spheres. All my predecessors have said the same thing, for many years at least, albeit with different accents. I believe that Catholics involved in politics carry the values of their religion within them, but have the mature awareness and expertise to implement them. The Church will never go beyond its task of expressing and disseminating its values, at least as long as I’m here.
DJPHD, call your office.
Of course, I recognize the complexity of this issue. There are very fine lines between three categories of episcopal comment on public policy or legislation: (1) Moral teaching and advocacy of virtue triggered by particular contemporary issues; (2) The declaration that a particular policy or law is intrinsically immoral; and (3) Promotion of particular measures that those who track political affairs for the bishops deem advantageous to the common good. It is inevitable that the discourse of bishops and their staff on political matters should touch on all three areas, even when properly trying to emphasize the first and the second.
I also recognize that the Pope’s comments were made in an interview; they were not issued as a disciplinary instruction to the various episcopal conferences. On the other hand, the Pope is right when he points out that all of his recent predecessors have maintained the same position. So why do some episcopal conferences still spend so much time and energy directing the laity to pursue those particular political policies determined to be “best” by the conference? I am raising this question about the many aspects of the common good for which primarily prudential judgments are required, to determine the fairest and most effective way to reach a desired goal.
This is not the province of bishops, nor even of lay persons hired by bishops to speak in their name. Painting with broad strokes, it is far more accurate to state that the bishops are better served by ensuring that lay persons are given every opportunity to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ—in their grasp of and adherence to Catholic faith and morals, in their participation in the sacraments, and overall in an ever-deepening spirituality. The laity, for their part, should be left free to transform the secular order as they judge best. This, after all, is fundamental to the lay vocation.
Sometimes it seems the American Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development almost gets this. But insofar as they almost get it, their statements become increasingly vague. Consider their instructions on these four issues:
- Poverty: “adequately fund programs that address hunger and joblessness, and help people to rise above poverty in the United States and around the world.”
- Sequestration: “replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes revenues as well as responsible spending cuts.”
- Debt: “raise the debt ceiling in a responsible manner so as not to harm struggling families and poor and vulnerable people in our country and around the world.”
- Conscience: “work for the inclusion of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204). Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or purchase health coverage.”
The fourth item is very specific political advice to oppose the coercion of citizens into moral evil, a violation of the natural law. It is well within the bishops’ competence to speak on this question. But the other three items are either so vague or so broad of purpose as to be almost mystifying politically….
To read the entire story, click here.
I can’t find this action alert anywhere on the USCCB website. There is a place to sign up to receive the action alerts. So this isn’t really the US bishops opposing Francis at all. We have a legislative action committee in our diocese. It only goes to people who sign up for it. So these things are not broad directives that the bishops are commanding Catholics to do. Some people want these alerts because they can keep up with what is going on in the legislatures and receive timely notices of when to act. Of course they are not obligatory and a person may disagree with them. Also, in the interview with Pope Francis, it was made known later that Mr. Scalfari neither took notes nor recorded Pope Francis’ answers. A copy of the interview was given to the Pope for him to read before publication.
I remember the War on Poverty from the 1960’s, Congress couldn’t make it work.
Sequestration and the Debt – Congress can’t make any budget work, but between the president and them, they sure can spend.
Conscience – Congress? Ha, ha, ha….you’re kidding, right?
For the most part, our government only reacts to the highest bidder – that’s why pro-abortion, homosexual groups and an increasing police state hold sway over this government (China, too).
As for the bishops and their pet projects, it makes one wonder if they have thought through things. Immigration – when we have so many unemployed and you want to add more (and wasn’t there a promise in the 1980’s Amnesty program that it was the last time?)? War and Peace – you guys don’t read the classics anymore, do you (e.g., Just War)? And then you want us to support you when you don’t do anything about CRS, CINO high schools and colleges, CINO politicians and clergy, etc, while you travel around the country and Rome, while your dioceses fall into disrepair.
When will you all start doing your jobs?
The bishops should preach subsidiarity not dependency on big government. Big government in the United States is taking away our religious freedom. Catholic institutions are being forced to choose between evil or not paying for the killing of unborn babies and being taxed to death.
Your Eminences what do you think will happen when the US Debt doubles to about $ 30 Trillion in about 7 years, you know what happens,,, complete economic implosion. Do the rest of us a favor go back to your main business which is the salvation of souls.. What needs to happens is the massive reduction in the size of government and the increase in economic growth something that will not happen so long as this boleshivik Obama is in the White House
I put this on the Gov.Brown post, but if the editor allows it at all, maybe it would be better here? I think a balanced budget is very important to ALL Americans, but especially those with families who worry about the future for their children. https://balancethebudget.kasichforohio.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=display&utm_term=ohio&utm_content=newssites&utm_campaign=sign
It’s time for Christians to be more pro-active in getting our country back. If we worked just on the state level think what a difference it would make. Look at the terrible damage being done to California because of an irresponsible governor and house of representatives.
The problem with the bishops being involved in public policy is that they evidently don’t understand Economics, politics, or human nature. They should really stick to their own jobs They seem to have neglected their proper duties in many ways while they meddle in things outside their areas of competence and authority. Their lack of effective leadership is the reason so many Catholics voting for pro-abortion politicians, for one thing. That one fact proves they need to change their approach in many ways.
America’s bishops are essentially non-religious corporate management. They spend far too much time on items that do not concern anything to do with salvation. Yes, fighting Obama’s attempt to control faithful religious expression is different, and necessary. but most other things they do, such as giving favorable expression to the Democratic Party agenda, are far beyond their competencies, and moral authority. Yet, they do prattle on, sounding like they were true stakeholders in the political arena. Too bad they save their bile for fighting Catholic Tradition (including — and increasingly so — the clergy who dare wish to learn more about it). The Devil should be their true target, a very real creature that Francis has also said a word or two about.
The U.S. CCB’s office of Justice, Peace and Human Development sounds more like a non-profit lobby stakeholder for the Democrat Party agenda than anything else. The sad situations of hunger and joblessness end up being federally mandated, state run and citizen forced nutrition programs conducted in the school system rather than the home. The joblessness ends up being national work-4-all federally mandated school-to-work projects with pre=determinants for who ends up with what government approved and underwritten job.
Leaving aside the fact that the $ trillions spent by our governments to “fight poverty and joblessness” have not worked and have fostered dependency and not dignity among those they are intended to serve, if we pay taxes to support such programs, we are merely doing our civic duty and remain unprofitable servants. What graces do we receive by paying taxes? On the other hand, if we were to spend those same taxes instead on almsgiving and other acts of personal charity, our actions will not only be more effective, but graces will flow. “Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.'” (CCC 1883)
The U. S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development is being very generous. With other peoples’ money. What ever happened to the Catholic principle of Subsidiarity?
St. Christopher, Excellent post.
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“Once Satan and his demon sidekick were walking down the street, closely watching a man 20 yards ahead who was on the verge of realizing the Supreme Truth. The demon grew worried, and began to nudge Satan, but Satan looked quite calm. Sure enough, the man did, in fact, soon realize the deepest spiritual Truth. Yet Satan still did nothing about it. With this, the demon nudged Satan harder and, getting no response, finally blurted out, “Satan! Don’t you see? That man has realized the Truth! And yet you are doing nothing to stop him!” With that, Satan cunningly smiled and announced, “Yes, he has realized the Truth. And now I am going to help him organize the Truth!” — Story told by an Indian Sage (Even a broken clock is right twice a day)
Thanks for that little tidbit on Satan and his demon sidekick! If only the “bishops” would listen.
May God have mercy on an amoral America!
Viva Cristo Rey!
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.
Your welcome Kenneth Fisher!
DISBAND THE USCCB AND ALL CATHOLICS WOULD BE BETTER OFF!!
It is permanent institution required by the Church. Canon law 447-459
(Don’t believe the false reports of it being started by Bishop John Rearden although he was it’s first president)
I truly wish the Church would stay out of politics and just do what it is supposed to do. At present, there is very little difference between the Catholic Church and the Communist party. The Church needs to care for those in need, not spend my money advocating that the government adopt socialistic policies to take more of my money. Free market capitalism would solve all of the problems listed above that the Church is petitioning government to solve. The Church’s short sightedness is the creator of the socialist – debt ridden – failing governments we have now. Thanks a lot. I’ve ‘earned’ everything I have. I take care of my own family. I would like to follow Biblical teachings of charitable giving… but why? My Church has advocated for the government to ‘take’ my earnings and give it to others – and other causes – against my wishes. I’ve stopped donating to the Church. Now I give my charitable donations (what I have left to give after government spends my tax money on abortions) to those of my choose. No more money for the Church.
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19)
It is time to evangelize. It is time to reveal the beauties and the richness of the Catholic faith to our brothers and sisters that we may become one Body, one Body in Christ. To the extent that I see this goal being realized in the USCCB, I will support them. But when I see the Democratic Party agenda of more taxes, more programs, more dependency being handed to us as “Catholic doctrine”, I just say no.
The American Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development is a branch of the American Socialist-Democrat Party.
I oppose everything they propose. They are as destructive as any other radical political movement. The USCCB should simply abolish this department altogether. The concept of subsidiarity continues to escape them. They do not belong in the Catholic Church. Let them rent a suite on M Street and become a lobby to petition the government directly. Or join the Nuns on the Bus.
OK It’s time for another chorus of Kumbyyah. Now all together.
Come by here, Lord, come by here. (And stay. PLEASE! We beseech you, hear us.)
How can the bishops justify Catholic schools closing for lack of funds while the USCCB spends hundreds of millions per year doing nothing?