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When Is Social Justice Catholic – and When Is It Not?

The Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary; Edmund Blair Blair Leighton

I’ve been trying for a long time to fathom what makes me uneasy about the concept and rhetoric of “social justice.” Michael Novak pointed out recently that part of the problem is taking social “justice” not, as the use of traditional vocabulary would suggest, as a true virtue present in individuals, but rather as a mere matter of policy, a sort of top-down imposition of social forms deemed abstractly to be superior to other forms. Promoted thus, social justice often becomes merely “whatever progressive policy I find desirable,” without connection to an individual’s stable disposition toward the common good. To disengage the discourse about social justice from a moral framework of virtue ethics makes the project dubious, and prone to exploitation by any special interest group strident enough to demand representation or benefits from the public coffers.

Even so, for a Catholic trying to think today in the tradition of Catholic social teaching, the root of the problem runs deeper.

What do I mean? A friend recently sent me the following quotation, in which a prominent Jesuit of last century laments what he perceives to be the Church’s unfortunate hesitation, even years after Vatican II, to engage directly with the world. The views he expresses go to the heart of the reductionism of much Catholic thinking about the social justice movement:

Summarizing the theological developments that emerged during the 20 years following the council, Jacques Dupuis concluded that the Church still needed to overcome explicitly “a long-standing habit of reducing evangelization to explicit proclamation and sacramentalization in the Church community, a task to which the promotion of justice and work for human liberation remains somehow peripheral and interreligious dialogue apparently foreign.”[1]

My friend then wrote: “I’m confused by his logic. Isn’t ‘explicit proclamation [of the Gospel] and sacramentalization in the Church community’ the very purpose of the Church’s existence? To bring others into it? If it did not, wouldn’t it be failing in its primary task?”

Now, one can infer readily enough the principles Dupuis is assuming, which are frequently met with in the Church today. Around the time of the Council, there was, as we know, a popular rhetoric of “letting a breath of fresh air into the Church,” of opening to the world, of beginning a more sympathetic relationship to modernity, all of which may be interpreted in a robustly Catholic way.

Unfortunately, Catholics could not escape the effects of the immense upheavals and waves of social revolution and antinomianism that hit during the ’60s. Partly because of this revolutionary atmosphere, it was typical of people in that generation, taking a line from liberal activism, to set up a false dichotomy between the Church’s sacramental action – always the center of her activity – and her secular/non-sacramental activity, which was arguably not as great as it could have been. But their primary fault, in fact, seems to be in imagining that the Church can, without prejudice to her supernatural nature, engage in any activity that is not sacramental and salvific, which is merely mundane, secular, institutional, “social.”

This prejudice is evident in the vocabulary they choose to use, a vocabulary that is “peripheral and foreign” (to borrow from Dupuis’s quotation) to traditional Catholic language. What, for example, is the meaning of “human liberation”? They seem to mean freedom from forms of political/economic oppression. That’s all well and good, but if not followed up immediately by the qualification that true liberation comes only in the freedom of Christian life in God, this formulation is deficient – little more than Marxist utopianism. After all, Christ lived under the brutal regime of Rome, and yet He did not make its slavery or violations of dignity the focal point of his doctrine. Rather, Christ focused on righteousness, seeking first God’s kingdom of holiness.

Or what is the importance of “social justice,” social work, the alleviation of poverty? Those are all wonderful things. But again, they can be at the service of a socialist utopianism, an aggressive centralizing government, or of the true Kingdom of God, which cannot be reduced to the mere lack of political oppression or the complete possession of economic autonomy, since properly understood, the Kingdom of God is something of an entirely different order: the sacramental union of all mankind with the Father in Christ effected by the Holy Spirit.

The greatest oppression is the law of sin reigning in our hearts, and the social reformer ought first to search his own breast and the souls of the oppressed if he would find the true source of oppression. If we truly assent to these basic theological data, then we must admit that social justice can be truly transformational only if it is sacramental. Alleviation from external oppression, if not supported by inner transformation of mind, leads only to a new kind of slavery. Merely to lift a man out of poverty, so that he can engage in the “good life” of selfish material acquisition, is to make him more of a slave than he was before. A secularized theory of social justice thus leaves no room for the transformative element, for the spiritual regeneration that the works of mercy can effect in both the worker and the object of the work. Catholic social work leads both the benefiter and the benefited on the path of transformation in Christ, calling both of them to the higher social order of the Church, which is spiritually redeemed humanity.

Needless to say, people who think along reductionist lines often have little patience for the Church’s primary mission, which is to worship God in the liturgical-sacramental life, because somehow they think it is an obstacle to achieving the Kingdom of God on Earth. They are impatient with beautiful liturgy; private devotions; monastic life; and, as we see in Pope Francis, with the careful disciplines of canon law and the wisdom of traditional practices. To their way of thinking, all these things hamper swift action and divert energy away from the sorts of activity that are urgently needed: social activism and “liberation,” whatever that means.

We must hasten to say that the promotion of justice is an essential function in Christian society – not only as a meritorious work of mercy, but even as a prerequisite for full participation in the liturgical-sacramental life. The spiritual presupposes the bodily, and so humans need not to be starving, dying, or worked to the bone by unjust economic-political regimes if they are to take part in spiritual services. (Here it bears repeating that poverty itself need not be evil: more often than not, it is a better aid to sanctity than wealth.) Further, how can we pretend to love God if we don’t commiserate with our suffering brethren? Christ calls us to establish the reign of justice and peace on Earth, which almost always means struggles with the unjust powers ruling the earth. Indeed, traditional Catholic social teaching is quite a bit more feisty in its demands on earthly rulers and on the necessity of reforming political-economic structures. Just read Leo XIII or Pius XI.

Nothing of what I’ve said here should be construed to mean that Catholics ought not to take part in non-Catholic (or non-explicitly sacramental) works of mercy and social justice initiatives. Far from it. It is often our duty to do so. But if we are to take on the full mind of the Church, we must not lose sight of the unum necessarium, or let ourselves be carried away by the sort of ideologies with which these things are often associated. Most of all, we must resist attempts to de-sacralize the Church’s works in the name of the dubious imperatives of efficiency or professionalization. The “source and summit” of our Christian life is not human society or any particular work we do, but the sacred liturgy of the Church, the work of Christ in and for us, which saves us and saves the world.

Justice is a natural virtue, and the establishment of more just economic and political systems is the Catholic citizen’s duty. Perhaps even the sincere work of non-believers will be redeemed for the Kingdom. As the hedonism and crass materialism of modern society further erode the image of human dignity in the public imagination, the Church may very soon be the only one who can show people a true vision of just society.

So, then, go forth! But remember that the Church has something far more to offer as well, a mystery of faith that makes our work in the world meaningful and great. The ends may not be inverted without disastrous consequences. The Church becomes superfluous if it is just another NGO, a sort of U.N. service and diplomatic organization. If her priests, as many did after the Council, renounce their sacramental role as sanctifiers to spend all their time as “liberators” in “social work,” then we might as well give up the whole affair. When they leave off praying the Office, when their negligence reduces liturgy to its bare minimum of sacramental validity, we see a grave loss of perspective.

The Church in the modern age (and always) has worked tremendously for justice: its greatest saints engaged in social work, critiqued capitalism, fought communism, built hospitals, etc., so it is hard to see what Dupuis concretely has in mind. Do we need more money spent on African aid programs? Or should we sell our churches to fund liberation campaigns in South America? That’s not Catholic logic. On the contrary, it is the post-Conciliar liturgical quagmire, her wholesale abandonment of the primary sacramental purpose, that stifles the Church’s efforts to transform society far more deeply than anything else.

The Church’s firm doctrine, proclaimed through all of tradition, is that only the reign of Christ the King over hearts and governments can lead to the establishment of true justice. Because sin causes injustice, only by conforming the world sacramentally to Christ may evil be overcome. The Church’s liturgical-sacramental function is absolutely crucial; it is the only chance for the world’s salvation, because it is the prime locus of Christ’s action on Earth. If there is no Mass, there is no hope for the world. If we don’t take the Mass seriously, or think it is just something we get out of the way before rolling up our sleeves to do the “real work,” we forget Christ’s loving caution that “without Me you can do nothing.” Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum: “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor.”

The mixed-up mentality I’ve been criticizing demonstrates a protestantizing mentality as well. It valorizes, or rather absolutizes, the secular realm as the most legitimate arena of human action, and regards sacred ceremonies as superfluous sideshows. It imagines religious life as a set of dogmas and moral precepts divorced from their sacramental performance, like dry bones from the living flesh they serve. True Catholic social work weds the two. Whenever circumstances required her sisters to work longer hours, Mother Teresa also demanded that her sisters pray longer hours. St. Francis forbade his followers all worldly possessions, but he always made sure they celebrated Mass with the most sumptuous sacred vessels.

To summarize: a truer social justice has to be Eucharistic at its core. Within the Catholic Church, “social justice” cannot be understood in its plenitude except Eucharistically and liturgically, as the concerted effort to dispose the human community ideally in relation to liturgical worship, providing all the material goods (and only those) that are sufficient to support their easy acquisition of spiritual goods. That is to say, justice demands that people have enough to eat of natural food so that they may eat of the bread of angels.

To that end, all Catholic social work must always have a sacramental dimension – or better yet, be entirely encompassed by a sacramental atmosphere. There is much liberty allowed here. In the past, the staffing of hospitals and schools by religious, whose very existence is a sacramental sign, was enough to guarantee a sacramental social justice, to say nothing of the actual sacraments they daily dispensed to those they served.

The Isenheim Altarpiece; Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald

Indeed, we must see that there is a fundamental difference between a hospital run according to Nietzschean principles, designed entirely for profit and efficiency, and one informed by a Catholic sacramental sense. We can offer as a symbol of a true Catholic hospital the famous hospital in the Middle Ages that featured Grünewald’s Isenheim altarpiece as its focal point. This hospital was built around and for the sake of a sacramental aesthetic and politic of redemptive suffering. A non-Catholic one is built around some other, invisible idol, offering the sacrifices of industrial sterility and efficiency to Mammon and caring not whether souls rise to heaven or burn in hell. Even if the Catholic Church is a field hospital, we should find at least a makeshift chapel at its heart.

The images of Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day, to pass over dozens of others, shine gloriously from the pages of recent history in proof that the combination of sacramentality with the most unfastidious engagement with all the sordid realities of poverty and oppression not only is achievable, but is the only proper way. Mother Teresa saved countless lives in India; without direct preaching, she also saved the souls of thousands more, who were converted to Christ by her self-emptying service. The source of her indomitable energy? The Eucharistic Lord.

In the end, it is a question of faith. Is the Church just a social service organization with some quaintly pleasing exterior forms (or worse, a barely tolerated mythological baggage and an obfuscatory symbolic manner of speaking), or is she what she says she is – the very soul of the world, the hammer of demons, the school of true perfection, the teacher of nations, the one place where man can fulfill his destiny to dwell with the divine?

Our yearning for the liturgical consummation of society is well expressed by the Psalmist: “”How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of host! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God.”



[1] Jacques Dupuis, S.J., “Interreligious Dialogue in the Church’s Evangelizing Mission: Twenty Years of Evolution of a Theological Concept,” in Vatican II: Assessment and Perspectives 3:256.

53 thoughts on “When Is Social Justice Catholic – and When Is It Not?”

  1. Very well written article but I wish the Writer would consult Rev Fr. Denis Fahey C.S.S.P on Catholic Social Justice…P.S Dorothy Day is NOT the best Model of Saintliness.

  2. Dorothy Day was a leftist idealogue who cloaked her Marxism in Catholicism for legitimacy. My brother watched her elitism up close and personal when he witnessed her berating a man because he didn’t have callouses on his hands… He wasn’t a “pure” enough worker for her.

  3. It is generally agreed among theologians that Catholics owe teachings in Encyclicals and Councils “religious assent” as part of the ordinary Magisterium. However, we have seen what are merely the opinions of Popes raised to the level of “de fide.” Socialism and humanism have cloaked their evils in a veneer of Catholicity as a result, like wrapping a dog’s pill in bacon, so we get berated if we do not support a state mandated minimum wage, open borders, universal government health care, international bodies with the power to stop war, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, for instance, and get accused of not being “Catholic” if we do not support such things. The Church has no right to tell pagans what to do, especially if she has no intent to convert them. The Church has no right to demand pagans act like Christians, with no intention of making them into Christians. The Popes rule applies to Christians only, not “all mankind.”

  4. Jesus Christ’s teachings are: be content with your pay, disciples are to love one another, do not worry about material things. That’s all the Catholic social teaching we need.

    Professional Catholics writers often make the same mistake; that when a Pope writes something it automatically becomes Sacred Tradition. That is impossible of course, because Tradition means that which is handed down from the beginning.

    Reading Rerum Novarum one can see Pope Leo ‘s sensible writing about the bond of charity that should occur between the Christian businessman and the Christian worker. They are bound not only economically for mutual benefit, but also by a covenant bond of mutual Christian brotherhood. There is no need for a Church or a State to step in to dictate some ephemeral wage level, as such issues work themselves out between Christian brothers. St Paul addressed much the same issue of Christian brotherhood in Philemon. So, there is no need, and a total waste of time and effort for the bishops and Popes to publish “position papers” on economics, a science in which they have no expertise, and sound like blathering idiots. Instead, they should be emphasizing the Christian brotherhood part. What we have seen in the “Social Justice” crowd is an unwarranted extrapolation of the duties between Christians extended to cover the relations among pagans.

    When my bishop or priest tells me that to be a good Catholic I must support state mandated minimum wage, open borders, labor unions, universal socialist health care, confiscation of private property to fund welfare, etc., etc., my traditional Catholic spidey sense tingles and I’m tempted to tell him “its a load of crap”. Those edicts seem to me like unsupported and unwarranted extrapolations from Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

    The Catholic Church has recently claimed it has the right to define moral law in economic and social justice matters for ALL mankind.

    QUADRAGESIMO ANNO (On Reconstruction of the Social Order) Pope Pius XI Encyclical 15 May 1931 says:

    “41. Yet before proceeding to explain these matters, that principle which Leo XIII so clearly established must be laid down at the outset here, namely, that there resides in Us the right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social and economic matters.[27] Certainly the Church was not given the commission to guide men to an only fleeting and perishable happiness but to that which is eternal. Indeed” the Church holds that it is unlawful for her to mix without cause in these temporal concerns”[28]; however, she can in no wise renounce the duty God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped nor endowed by office, but in all things that are connected with the moral law. For as to these, the deposit of truth that God committed to Us and the grave duty of disseminating and interpreting the whole moral law, and of urging it in season and out of season, bring under and subject to Our supreme jurisdiction not only social order but economic activities themselves.”

    So now Pope Pius XI, and Pope Leo XIII previously, had arrogated the authority to tell pagan atheistic states how they must treat their non-Catholic pagan atheistic subjects; to tell non-Catholics they must behave like Catholics, all for the “common good”.

    This was done at a time when their rightful sympathy for the poor and downtrodden in Italy prompted them to make this claim, after all,mostly all were actually Catholics. But if you examine the statement above, you can see they assumed to themselves an authority over non-Catholics that is at least questionable. And further, they have extrapolated Catholic moral behavior onto a largely non-Catholic society. When they do this, just about any power can be claimed to belong to Church and State to justify the “common good.”

    The Popes had now claimed the authority to force pagans to behave like Christians without converting them to the faith first. Pius XI wrote that he knew plainly they were attempting to extend their authority over all mankind, instead of only the Catholic Church:

    Yet the Encyclical, (of Leo XIII) On the Condition of Workers, compared with the rest had this special distinction that at a time when it was most opportune and actually necessary to do so, it laid down for all mankind the surest rules to solve aright that difficult problem of human relations called “the social question.” … he decided, in virtue of the Divine Teaching Office entrusted to him, to address not only the whole Church of Christ but all mankind.

    The following example illustrates the roadmap the Church is following with its “social teaching.”:

    Eating Cheerios is good for an individual’s health. Catholics must maintain sound bodily health. All Catholics must eat Cheerios to promote the common good. The Church supports the common good, even among non-Christians. The Church therefore supports the pagan State’s authority to enforce a law forcing all citizens buy and to eat Cheerios.

    Do you see how ridiculous this is? Now simply substitute “universal government subsidized health insurance” for Cheerios and you have the kind of crap the USCCB whores itself to the pagan state over.

    And now according to the Catholic Church, as Pius XI taught, it is morally permissible for the State to act like Robin Hood, steal from the rich to give to the poor, because giving to the poor is what rich Catholics are supposed to do.

    “50. Furthermore, a person’s superfluous income, that is, income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly and with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free determination. Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church constantly declare in the most explicit language that the rich are bound by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.”

    Again we see the application of Catholic moral law being forcibly extended over the entire world, whilst ignoring the mission to convert them to the faith first. Social justice warriors hang their helmets on the above statement to justify the confiscation of private income.

    Exaggerated papal authority is a real problem for Catholics of all stripes, particularly for converts, apologists and social justice warriors, and traditionalists alike. Little in Pope Leo’s encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 or Pope Pius XI Quadragesimo Anno of 1931 is “de fide”, it is simply advice and opinion, meant to relieve suffering in a largely Catholic nation, and, while commendable, is not an oracle from God.

    Pope Leo and Pope Pius XI realized themselves they were entering new territory; they simply claimed the authority to do so, as this type of social teaching was an innovation, a creation, and had no mission given by Jesus. The criticized any who questioned their claim –

    “..the slow of heart disdained to study this new social philosophy and the timid feared to scale so lofty a height. There were some also who stood, indeed, in awe at its splendor, but regarded it as a kind of imaginary ideal of perfection more desirable then attainable …”

    • “be content with your pay”

      Where and when exactly did the Good Lord step into labor relations? Does it only apply to labor, or should management, especially upper management no longer negotiate for pay and simply be content? How about corporations? Are they allowed contract negotiations or will that practice preclude entering the corporate soul (SCOTUS did after all endow all businesses with souls) from entering the Eternal Kingdom.

      • “be content with your pay”
        Where and when exactly did the Good Lord step into labor relations?
        –andy stelmaszek

        Luke 3:14. There are other examples in the bible. Read it.

        • Matthew 20:1-16 though a parable, shows the Lord was aware of such situations as unfair wages and He did not explicitly condemn it.

        • Matthew 6:25-34 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

          25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[a] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[b] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[c] and his[d] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

          • 2 Cor 6:14 Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?

  5. It will always be left to the Church to oppose injustice. We cannot escape that. However, any human derived ideology that excludes God is bound to fail. This is where activist types fail. They take their issue and push it to the detriment of saving Souls. They also tend to abuse Church resources and quite often have totally lost the faith.

  6. Excellent essay Aelredus Rievallensis. ‘Social Justice’ is a political term used since Vatican II to subvert the true mission of the Church. Accordingly, It should be stricken from Catholic vocabulary. The correct vocabulary is Charity as in Faith, Hope, and Charity. The Catholic Church has always been about Charity as expressed in the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy. There is nothing new here. What’s new was to co-opt Charity by calling it ‘Social Justice’ for political purposes (Liberation Theology/Communism) and in the process destroying the very Faith upon which it is based.

  7. Social Justice for American Catholics is conditioned and channeled into the understanding of the two political parties, so Catholic teaching on social Justice is neglected.

  8. Mr. Novak is not an orthodox source for S.J. analysis.

    He is responsible for a steaming ton of misdirection and lies about economics and morality.

    Here are some links worth looking at, especially the first one which consists of a book review by a Catholic Economics professor which blows-up all of the neocon propaganda in favor of capitalism.

    How many Catholics know the name and the work of the great Catholic Economist referenced in the book review (1st link)? But “Ethics and the national economy” for a primer of his work

  9. Bravo — a marvelous essay. I am reminded of words Ratzinger said many years ago, in The Ratzinger Report:

    Activism, the will to be “productive,” “relevant,” come what may, is the constant temptation of the man, even of the male religious. And this is precisely the basis trend in the ecclesiologies (we spoke about it) that present the Church as a “People of God” committed to action, busily engaged in translating the Gospel into an action program with social, political, and cultural objectives. But it is no accident if the word “Church” is of feminine gender. In her, in fact, lives the mystery of motherhood, of gratitude, of contemplation, of beauty, of values in short that appear useless in the eyes of the profane world.

  10. Anthony Esolen wrote a book on the question of “Social Justice.” He quoted a whole lot of Leo XIII and, like you, was clear: social justice will result when ALL people recognize Christ as King, recognize their ultimate destiny, and found all their actions on the Beatitudes.

    But Esolen also mentions–a lot–another critical element: the intact family. While the above priorities are indeed ‘prior’ to the family, the intact family is ‘prior’ to acting on the Beatitudes (or if you prefer, the Commandments). The family builds the community, which eventually builds the State.

  11. Secular Society is running circles around the Catholic Church as it steals its concepts and perverts them. Right now, “Social Justice” as it has been usurped is the “Scourge” of Western Civilization….today Social Justice Means

    1. Feminism
    2. Marxism
    3. Gender Identity
    4. Transgenderism
    5. Lawlessness
    6. Identity Politics
    7. Boys taking showers with girls at publish schools
    8. Slut Walks
    9. Gay Parades
    10. Gaia Worship

    blah blah blah…

    The term “SJW” or “Social Justice Warrior” is a perjorative term that rises the ire of significant number of growing people who identify it was liberal political correctness. People’s lives are being destroyed as a result of it. It is causing great strife in western civilization that is only going to get worse.

    I want nothing to do with it and if the Church continues to be “Co-opted” than invent new terms…make sure you put something in them that directly appeals to the supernatural or the almighty so it can’t be co-opted.

  12. And what would you say it is that Justice requires? Healthcare for the poor? An idea born not out of the Catholic philosophical tradition, but literally out of the French Revolution. Funny thing about those medieval Catholic hospitals, beautifully decorated and dedicated to Our Lord and the Saints – medical treatment was a privilege for the rich. Hospitals in those days only accepted a restricted number of poor. Would you condemn the medieval Catholic social order, rife with inequality and privilege, as being unjust? I wouldn’t. No Pope ever did. Justice is rendering to one what he is due. The poor are not due anything for being poor. The proper virtue that should be applied here is Liberality, which Aquinas distinguishes from Justice precisely by saying that Justice is rendering to one his due while Liberality is rendering to another what is one’s own. Modern liberals and disappointingly a gross number of Trad Catholics confuse authentic Justice, the virtue, with a modern liberal humanist sentiment that was born in Revolution. And the latter of these people pretend to be against the Enlightenment

    A Just economic order? And what does that mean? Keep this in mind: The common man in modern America has higher real wages than the common man in any other period of history. He lives a life of far greater comfort and luxury. He will live longer and consume far more calories than his ancestors, often this is true even if his ancestors were kings. This is a result of the Industrial Revolution, only after which, ironically, did a Pope ever put into encyclical a call to re-evaluate the socio-economic order. Yes, only after the common man started to gain and gain did he start to complain about not having enough. The poor, we have found out, are not immune to Greed. I’m sorry, but Pope Leo XIII, great as he was, was wrong on those things to which papal infallibility does not extend. Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution created a society that was more equal in its distribution of wages than anything that came before it in Christendom. It was, essentially, an equalizing force. The failure to recognize this has actually proven destructive.

    How is this for justice: in medieval agrarian societies, the incomes of the rich were thousands of times that of the poor. The realities of those days make all of us look like a joke. People in our day don’t have children because they want enough money to go on vacations and own their own house. In Christendom people would have 10-12 children but on average only 2 would survive into adulthood literally because of how poor they were. The other 10 would die of malnutrition or disease. And of course, the common man then would never own an inch of land and would probably refer to our “houses” as palaces. Find me a papal text from the middle ages lamenting all of this. Family size is roughly the same but for completely absurd reasons. We have small families because we’re filthy rich (every last one of us) by the standards of human history, and always wanting more. They had small families because they were poor as heck and frankly didn’t care; God was more important.

    Talk to your ancestors about Justice. Tell them that you think it’s an injustice that ONLY 95% of Americans IN POVERTY have a television. Or that ONLY 71% of Americans IN POVERTY have a car. When they ask how all of this happened, you’ll have one word: Capitalism.

    After that, this is what you can do: shut up, stop complaining about the material state of modern man, and start saving souls. An authentic tradition minded Catholic has good reason to focus exclusively on the spiritual battle ahead of us, because the material battle is only an illusion.

    • Mr. Alexius:

      You posted in part:

      “Funny thing about those medieval Catholic hospitals, beautifully
      decorated and dedicated to Our Lord and the Saints – medical treatment
      was a privilege for the rich.”

      Hospital, like University, was a Catholic invention. The religious orders ran the vast majority, if not all,of the hospitals. The religious orders did not charge anyone, to include Muslims and Jews, for care.

      The religious orders also ran the education system. They also did not charge anyone, to include the the poor, who showed aptitude for education.

      Indeed the Church holds to this day that education is something that is free and cannot be sold. Something our 250 American Catholic Universities or so apparently have not heard of.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      • Thank you for the kind response. I would however dispute it by directing you to the following peer reviewed journal article:
        Religious orders certainly did not run all the hospitals, in fact they probably did not run the vast majority of them. Many were run by successful merchants for the sake of charity. Religious orders did run many, but even theirs were not operated on a “free care for all” principle. They had a very low maximum of poor that they accepted, generally only a dozen or so. Clearly this was charity work, not work based off of a Revolutionary principle of healthcare for all.

        Education was also fundamentally different then. If education was ever compulsory, which it wasn’t always, it was generally only compulsory for 1-2 years around the ages of 5-6, wherin children would learn basic reading skills and catechesis. Universities certainly were not operated on an “all are welcome” platform either. No peasant sent his children to University. Compulsory education in the modern vein was another secular humanist idea, only put into place in the Western world beginning in the 19th century.

        To be clear, I’m not advocating that we don’t give to the poor the way certain libertarians might. But I am arguing that what we do for them is not out of Justice the way modern man thinks, but out of Charity or Liberality. It is not an obligation, as Aquinas says, but rather out of a certain “fittingness” to use his words.

        • Mr. Alexius:

          Thank you for your reply. The authoress, Dr. Tatjana Buklijaš, further writes in part: “Considered as institutions of social prevention, they simultaneously
          protected marginal social strata from homelessness and hunger, and the
          society from the marginal social layers. They brought under the same
          roof all those who could not afford better accommodation – abandoned
          children, travelers, the sick, and the poor”

          In apparent contradiction to your claim.

          also in part: “Education was also fundamentally different then.”

          And thank goodness! In our enlightened times almost all of our youngsters are shepherded by Caesar into university which will enablesthem to work in a fast food joint and also to spend the rest of their lives paying off student debt.

          The GAO reports that 47% of FEDGOV assets are student loans.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

          • You take that line out of context. In the opening paragraph it clearly states: “The rise of the modern hospital began in Paris when the social change brought about by the French Revolution provided the momentum for the transformation. For the first time in history, cure of the body and care for the soul were separated, and physicians, rather than the church and rich lay patrons, took charge of medical institutions. Medical treatment was no longer a privilege of the rich (at home) or charity for the poor (in hospital), but an indispensable human right.” It doesn’t get any more explicit than that.

          • Mr. Alexius:Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “You take that line out of context.” No. I cited 2-complte sentences from te harticle you referenced. Quite in context. Following is the entire paragraph in question:

            “Italian merchant urban communes, such as Florence, Padua, and Venice, spearheaded urbanization and partial secularization of hospitals, which were being increasingly established by local governments, confraternities, and rich individuals (4). Hospitals guarded the social order and enabled uninterrupted running of commerce and manufacture in cities. Considered as institutions of
            social prevention, they simultaneously protected marginal social strata
            from homelessness and hunger, and the society from the marginal social layers. They brought under the same roof all those who could not afford better accommodation – abandoned children, travelers, the sick, and the poor. In contrast to monastic institutions, they employed
            university-educated medical practitioners. This was the period when
            early-medieval type of religiousness, marked by asceticism, withdrawal
            from the worldly life, and contemplation, was replaced by the
            late-medieval “secular” type, which emphasized the need to act socially and charitably. Thus, the number of hospitals was often higher than whatthe population size required. The representatives of the secular type of religiousness were confraternities (5).These associations of citizens practicing the same craft or inhabiting
            the same area performed religious and social activities, organized
            processions to honor protector saints, and ensured financial and other
            support to its members and the wider community.”

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

          • To the neglect of the opening paragraph and of course the entire point of the article. The difference is drawn between justice and charity, and thus between modern and pre-modern hospitals. Sure, poor and marginilized individuals were treated, I even mentioned that. But you miss the point. There was no cry for justice demanding that every last individual poor person be entitled to healthcare. That came about, as the article explicitly stated, only in post-revolutionary France. What was done before that was limited and it was only done out of charity. Case in point is an example given later in the article: “The list of founders comprised many well-known families, but the hospital founded by the rich merchant Grgur Mrganić in the mid-fifteenth century in the immediate proximity of the church of St. Anastasia was especially famous. In his will, Mrganić specified the number and characteristics of the poor that should be admitted to the institution: 13 poor patients, Zadar citizens or foreigners, but no patients with plague.” These people did not live under illusions that costs are irrelevant, or that it was their duty to reach every last poor man.

            (By the way, the paragraph you quoted was specifically about late medieval hospitals NOT founded by religious orders.)

            It should probably also be pointed out that the article specifies the different ways in which these things were funded. The money has to come from somewhere. Nothing is actually free. Religious orders, confraternities, rich merchants, and LOCAL (city) government. All very different from the federal government.

          • Mr. Alexius:Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “There was no cry for justice demanding that every last individual poor person be entitled to healthcare.”

            Of course not. Health care is determined by impersonal government bureaucrats. Christians are required by the Great Commandment to love their neighbor on a personal and individual basis.

            and in part: “That came about, as the article explicitly stated, only in post-revolutionary France.”

            No. My ancestors from the Vendee were slaughtered by the French Revolution. One popular technique was to llard them bound, men, women and children, into barges and then sink said barges.

            and in part: “What was done before that was limited and it was only done out of charity”

            No. Does not the article say that there were more hospitals then needed. And charity exceeds teh demands of justice.

            and in part: “These people did not live under illusions that costs are irrelevant, or that it was their duty to reach every last poor man.”

            Of course not. THat was why the hospitals were manned by religious orders and volunteers with, relative to today, no expensive bureaucrats.

            and in part: “By the way, the paragraph you quoted was specifically about late medieval hospitals NOT founded by religious orders.”

            Are you saying there were no longer hospitals served by religious orders?

            and in part: “All very different from the federal government.”

            THank God!

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

        • Things which are of human right
          cannot derogate from natural
          right or Divine right. Now according to the natural
          order established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the purpose of
          succoring man’s needs by their means. Wherefore the division and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude the fact that man’s needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose [Loc. cit., 2,
          Objection 3] says, and his words are embodied in the Decretals (Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): “It is the hungry man’s bread
          that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you store
          away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man’s ransom and freedom.”

          Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is impossible for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one is entrusted with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of them he may come to the aid of those who are in need. Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another’s property,
          by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery.

          St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 2-2, 66, 7.

          • Irrelevant to the discussion at hand. See 2-2 23 and 117 for the topics I was referring to.

            If you are trying to say that Aquinas was arguing for some sort of egalitarian social order where no one has more than anyone else, you’ll have to square away your admiration of the past with the fact that the Christian middle ages were far more materially unequal than our own times. The Gini Coefficient in modern America is about half of what it was in medieval Venice during its economic supremacy. Google Gini Coefficient if you don’t know what it is, and then google Sumptuary Laws.

            Consider also, Objection 1 to the question you cited, and Aquinas’ response.

            Obj 1: It would seem unlawful to steal through stress of need. For penance is not imposed except on one who has sinned. Now it is stated (Extra, De furtis, Cap. Si quis): “If anyone, through stress of hunger or nakedness, steal food, clothing or beast, he shall do penance for three weeks.” Therefore it is not lawful to steal through stress of need.

            Resp to Obj 1: This decretal considers cases where there is no urgent need.

            Did you catch that? When somebody steals through stress of hunger or nakedness, there is no actual urgent need, therefore they do in fact sin. The standards for “urgent need” are much much higher than what modern man with all of his comforts would like to think.

          • Actually, it is you who are citing irrelevant texts (e.g., 2-2, 117) and misconstruing those that I cite.

            The response to objection 1, which appeals to the Decretals, concerns merely penalties for violations of positive and canon law.

            St. Thomas, however, is focusing on justice and morality in the strict sense of the term, which are not fully reducible to positive law.

            That is why, in response to objection 2, he emphasizes that “It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and use another’s property in a case of extreme need: because that which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of that need.”

            As for your allegation that my citation of this text was an effort to project some sort of “egalitarian social order” into how St. Thomas should be read, that is a totally gratuitous, unfounded charge that is irrelevant to my own and Aquinas’ points, which are far more subtle than you wish to acknowledge.

          • You know, I’m really tempted to respond to the smart ass remarks, but I’m going to ignore them because I do have a legitimate question here:

            Are you suggesting, by your comments on objection 1, that the decretal mentioned does not come from justice and morality, but is somehow external to it? Arbitrary, for lack of a better term? It appears pretty clear to me that the decretal is saying that anybody who steals through stress of hunger or nakedness is committing a sin. Aquinas does not seem to dispute that, what he disputes is that there is an urgent need in that situation. If the need were urgent, it would not be a sin, but since it is not, the decretal stands and the the objection is refuted. If sin is at stake here, this is not simply positive law, it is divine law, natural law.

            Remember that this was done at a point in time when all law existed merely to conform to the divine law. Positive law was not arbitrary as it is now, made up by courts and legislators without basis.

            “Law is the Right, the Just, the Reasonable. Divine, natural, moral law is not above, nor beyond positive law, but rather all law is divine, natural, moral, and positive at one and the same time – if indeed, all these differentiations, which had no place in mediaeval thought, may be introduced into the one, undifferentiated, all-embracing idea of law.” (Fritz Kern, Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, 1914, pg 153)

          • You have been correct in insisting that “liberality” should not be confused with “charity,” the latter denoting the supernatural virtue that elevates a person to loving friendship with God.

            The former denotes freedom from, detachment, from lust for wealth akin to temperance that disposes one toward acts of dispensing wealth to others as a part of justice. [Here, your mention of 2-2, 117, 1-2 is very pertinent.]

            And I assuredly have not contested your ire towards certain contemporary (and hence Modern) confusion regarding what these terms connote and denote in order to promote unjust manipulation through state mechanisms that increase power for plutocrats and oligarchs in coercing wealth from some (an injustice) while not truly assisting the poor substantively (another injustice). Such undermines the common good.

            Yes, any positive law, IF it is law, must explicate what is reasonable and accord with, that is, not contradict, primary and many secondary Natural Law precepts or inferences. And Natural Law, in turn, is implicate within Divine Positive Law and virtually within Eternal Law or the Divine Intellect-Will.

            However, this applies to any law, no matter what era in which it is forged.

            However, human positive law (civil or canonical) tends to focus primarily (though not exclusively) upon exterior aspects of a moral act. Attending to interior aspects of a moral act inevitably arise, but as concomitants.

            In contrast, moral philosophy and theology place the interior act as primary, without ignoring complexities that can arise in terms of “what” is done in the exterior act. Any sound presentation of Aquinas will advert to details of this contrast, and one finds many of these considerations in his Summa contra Gentiles 3, 10, among many other places.

            As for F. Kern’s work, certain generalizations he made would require qualifications in light of subsequent research.

            This being said, I agree with you on many of your points, but merely wished to draw attention to the fact that even within our contemporary context certain traces of what St. Thomas adverts to are operative, sometimes in only a truncated manner and often not adverted to at all, in spite of the relative shifts of connotation concerning what constitutes “poverty” and “need.”

            Last, I should say that, to indicate to someone that an assertion made against one’s own person is “gratuitous and unfounded” is hardly a sign that said person is attempting to be a “wise ass,” although I have always had fondness for all asini I’ve encountered, and I certainly have the profoundest regard for sapientia.

            Best regards.

      • Amen. Richard. What you say can be proven just by reading a protestant, William Corbett, who wrote “A history of the protestant revolution.”

        What Alexius writes is simply a hysterically ahistorical accusation wildly at odds with reality.

        • Evidently you have not read a single page of economic history. Sorry that the data conflicts with your misconceptions. Go to Amazon and search “the great divergence” and buy any of the many scholarly books that show up. Or try Gregory Clark’s (prof of economic history at UC Davis) A Farewell to Alms.

          • Mr. Woods, Fr Sirico, and Mr. Lew Rockwell, and other libertarians, are forever citing the Salamanca Priests and claiming that their ideas represent Catholic Tradition – here is Woods;

            These ideas are not foreign to Catholic tradition: The Late Scholastics of the 16th and 17th centuries favored an economy very largely free of government controls..

            OK, please cite for us just one mention in one Social Encyclical where those priests are even mentioned to say nothing about where their ideas are acknowledged by Popes to be part of Catholic tradition?

          • We have already established that you, Alexius, “are impervious to facts and data.”

            P.S. I’ve already read Prof. Clark’s book. I can’t tell if you have.

          • Oh brother. You certainly have not read it. If any charge is made against me it should be of plagiarism for using so many of his own words in my initial comment. In fact, I have the book next to me right now. Here’s a real gem from it: “Agrarian societies from the earliest times were much more unequal. The richest members of these societies commanded thousands of times the average income of the average adult male. Aristocrats, such as the Duke of Bedford in England in 1798, resided in a state of luxury that the farm laborers on his extensive estates could hardly comprehend.” You should then also know, since you read it, that the graph that you completely ignored above was taken from the same book.

    • Leo XIII was correct: he enjoined ‘liberality’ from employers, while not disregarding ‘just wage.’ Another way to understand it is from the perspective of ‘communitas.’ That is, there is a ‘community’ of interest between labor and capital–and that community of interest is in mutual prosperity.

      At the same time, Leo XIII was VERY careful to state–many times–that the worker should be ‘frugal’ so that his family would be provided for.

      You state that families would have 10-12 children, but only a few (2) might survive. Did you check your homework with J. S. Bach?

      • Here is a graph of average real wages over the course of human history, adjusted for inflation and purchasing power of course, taken from Prof. Gregory Clark’s monumental A Farewell to Alms. Tell me, where on that graph is your Just Wage? I can show you where the modern average wage is, and where the average wage was during Christendom. Be my guest and condemn the past. I can also show you where it was when Leo XIII penned his encyclical.

        Internet users are impervious to facts and data.


          71. In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family.[46] That the rest of the family should also contribute to the common support, according to the capacity of each, is certainly right, as can be observed especially in the families of farmers, but also in the families of many craftsmen and small shopkeepers. But to abuse the years of childhood and the limited strength of women is grossly wrong. Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father’s low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage will be assured to every adult workingman. It will not be out of place here to render merited praise to all, who with a wise and useful purpose, have tried and tested various ways of adjusting the pay for work to family burdens in such a way that, as these increase, the former may be raised and indeed, if the contingency arises, there may be enough to meet extraordinary needs.

          Now, IANS is sure you can dissolve such doctrine by appeals to secular scholars…

        • Internet users are impervious to facts and data.
          –Alexius, Internet user

          I accept that you speak for yourself and no other.

          • Haha. Still waiting for somebody to label the just wage on that graph and in doing so condemn the social order of Christendom as unjust. If you have to resort to mad incoherent ravings, like that other guy, and link repeatedly to a website hosted by a delusional anti-semite and conspiracy theorist, all while failing to address the data presented here, consider yourself defeated.

            The alternative is to place the just wage where it was in Christendom, and to concede that complaints for a “just wage” in the modern economic system are absurd. The common American has wages 10x higher than the commoner of the medieval world once you adjust for inflation and purchasing power. And the non-worker enjoys freebies and handouts unlike anything that his ancestors would ever have known.

    • Alexis. You specialise in tendentious twaddle and all of your assertions are wrong but that is prolly jake with you because of your antipathy to the Catholic past and your promotion of whig propaganda;view=1up;seq=11;view=1up;seq=11

      Here’s a question for ya Alexius. Which Catholic Country on this continent erected the first university for men and another women long before the formation of crummy Harvard?

      Which Country was so successful in educating indians that some of them sailed to Europe to teach Latin in universities?

      scroll down to “Education” and learn that Catholic Mexico had a medical school 204 years before crummy Harvard was opened.

      Small wonder that Thomas Jefferson, then Amb. to France, lusted after Mexico: These countries (mexico included) cannot be in better hands. My fear is that they are too feeble to hold them til our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from the piece by piece.

      Ahh, the avarice, envy, and evil of our founding fathers….

    • Balderdash. Your capitalistic idolatry is completely antithetical to Catholic Social Doctrine and reading you makes IANS think you are a devotee of The Acton Institute which even there NY Times recognizes is weird:

      And what happened to the Duquesne Prof after the Acton Institute (5th column created by protestants ) in the person of Fr Sirico came-out against unions and Catholic Social Doctrine?

      Culture Wars in its Bullets section told the story of a Duquesne Adj Prof of a quarter-century duration who recently died sick and broke.

      She had taught three classes a semester and two classes each summer but cleared less than $25K.

      Duquesne cut her to one class a semester and her salary plummeted to under $10K and she got cancer.

      She couldn’t afford to heat her home and so she moved into office to sleep during the day while she worked at night for a restaurant.

      Duquesne had the cops evict her from her office and subsequently fired her but, I guess Acton Institute and Fr Sirico were right – such workers like Adj, Prof, Mary Vojtko, didn’t need no stinking union or health care.

      The Baron of the Brick By Brick Bund routinely promotes the work of Acton Institute and Acton has an Institute in Rome, the Belly of the Beast for Usurers, and Sirico and his outfit are doing what they can to subvert Catholic Social Doctrine and I’ll just bet the Magisterium has yet to catch a clue about this outfit and its diligent striving on behalf of the 1%.

      Does the Acton Institute have a footprint in any other country?

      Please!!! Acton is a fifth column created by Calvinists to be sappers of Catholicism

    • Fr. Heinrich Pesch: Capitalism is the dominion over the national economy by the acquisitive interests of those who own capital.

      E. Michael Jones. Capitalism is State-Sponsored Usury.

      I am in complete agreement with Pope Francis on paragraph 54 and we Catholics do have to agree with him for what he said in that paragraph is simplified Catholic Social Teaching and it is part of our Faith.

      The defense of Capitalism (which began in England with the theft of Catholic Church Property) is but one form of Americanism which, in the economic area, is actually an ideological infection contracted with our intellectual intercourse with heretics.

      Over at my crummy blog I have posted a number of links which might be helpful for the autodidact interested in the truth of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the economy.

      Far from being what is claimed for it – a science outside the realm of Faith and Morals- economics is about Faith and Morality but there are very very few men striving to teach this to Catholics and they are drowned-out by the voices of men like Lew Rockwell, Michael Novak, George Weigel, Thomas Woods, Sirico at Acton Institute – etc etc.

      One simply has to become an autodidact and search out these truths for his own self because the Bishops have been, repeatedly, cowed by the Michael Novaks,Thomas Woods Robbie Georges, and George Weigel’s of this world when it comes to economics.

      Thanks be to God I have been a subscriber to Culture Wars which has been running a lengthy series of articles and debates on economics over the past several years and I really look forward to Dr Jones’ upcoming book, Barren Metal which, I assume, will be a summary of that fascinating debate.

      The claims of the Libertarians and the Capitalists about economics have been slow to be submitted to Catholic Truth but Dr Jones, and Dr. Anthony Santelli have been doing just that in Culture Wars and that debate and discussion have caused me to cast aside the blinders given freely to me by Rush, Woods, Sirico, Rockwell, et al.

      If I had any Common Sense, I would have asked my own self who is more likely to be telling me the truth about what the Catholic Church teaches about the Economy – Jewish Agnostics or Popes?

      We Catholics have a top tier Economist, a genius, Fr. Heinrich Pesch, S,J,, who developed his own complete Catholic System of Economics based upon solidarism but few have heard of him because most Catholics are learnt economics from Rush and Weigel, and Novak, and Woods.

      Catholic Truth is the antidote to the ideological infection contracted by the majority of Catholics in America and it they take the cure, the scales will fall from their eyes to such an extent that they will discover they have been in the same cafeteria of Catholicism (just at their own table in the corner) as the modernist dissenters and heretics they descry.

    • Western Michigan, home of the DeVos family, the Meijer family, and other Dutch Calvinists, is where the money is if you want to be the Catholic roman collar promoting the gospel of capitalism. The DeVos family and the Acton Institute were major players in the early initiatives of the George W. Bush administration to off load government functions onto “faith based” agencies and served as the center of a network of Republican office holders and right-wing religious figures like James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Seattle. Berkowitz related in 2001 that four years previously 94 per cent of Acton’s $1.8 million budget was funded with grants from wealthy right-wing individuals, corporations and foundations such as Scaife ($100,000), Olin ($50,000), and Bradley ($40,000), plus the DeVos Family Foundation ($50,000). And as mentioned above, the Dutch Calvinist DeVos family of Grand Rapids, founders of the Amway sales pyramid, are represented on the board of the Acton Institute and other similar groups such as Wilmington, Delaware’s Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), as well as playing a major role in the Michigan Republican Party. Betsy DeVos, a former member of Acton’s board of directors, is also the former chair of the Michigan Republican party as well as the wife of the unsuccessful 2006 G.O.P. candidate for governor of that state, Dick DeVos. Admittedly 2006 was not the year to be a Republican candidate in almost any state, as the unpopularity of President George W. Bush and his endless wars in the Middle East were causing the voters to take out their frustrations on anyone associated with that party. It also may not have helped Mr. DeVos that his wife made a public statement about the economic problems of Michigan that may not have gone over well with voters there, even if it was totally consistent with the published statements of the Acton Institute. What Betsy DeVos stated in an April, 2004 press release was, “Many, if not most, of the economic problems in Michigan are a result of high wages and a tax and regulatory structure that makes this state uncompetitive.” The DeVos’ are leading advocates of school choice initiatives and apparently support various evangelical Christian causes.

      Dutch Calvinists teaching Catholics what their Social Doctrine means. Although it is not, it could be a Monty Python Episode.

      Dear Steve. Thanks for your patience while an uninvited IANS posted so much material here.

      IANS will now, finally, clam-up even though he has plenty of other material pertinent to these questions

    • “Funny thing about those medieval Catholic hospitals, beautifully decorated…”

      How about an example of one of your hospital-palaces that were “a privilege for the rich”? I’ve never seen nor heard of such a thing when I was living and travelling on the Continent.

      • So, I’ve answered your question twice already but something that hates me keeps deleting it as spam. I’ll try a third time. Repost follows:

        Actually, what I said (you can read it again) was that medical treatment was a privilege for the rich, and that hospitals only treated a limited number of poor. There is a distinction there between medical treatment and hospitals. The majority of doctors did not work in hospitals, they visited people in their homes and were handsomely compensated. Until the late middle ages hospitals were not even staffed by doctors and the work done there was more akin to providing comfort to the suffering than actually providing medical treatment.

        James Joseph Walsh wrote an article a hundred years ago on physician’s fees throughout history wherein he noted that in Babylonian times a working man would pay half of his yearly salary in order to have a broken bone set. So that’s first.

        Second, I did actually provide an example elsewhere in the comments of the limited number of poor that hospitals would accept. The number accepted was 13 at this particular hospital, and no patients with plague were accepted. Hospitals in general only had room for a couple dozen patients. The majority of humans at that point in time did not have healthcare, unless they were rich and could afford private treatment. This is one of the reasons why wealthy families would see many more of their children live to adulthood than the commoner would.

        I don’t know what you’re talking about by using the term “hospital-palaces.” I never called hospitals “palaces.” It is our modern houses (you know, those things in which humans live… the thing that you are probably very comfortably living in right now), our houses I called palaces, because that is how they would appear to your ancestors.

  13. Thank you so very much for the excellent thoughts. I propose, however, an investigation of out-of-box questions:

    1) While the Church is arguably failing (or at best falling far short of its purpose) does it even make sense to spend energy broadening its mandate? Get rid of the homosexual priests and the pederasts. Purify worship and reorient it fully to God. There are more important things than giving to the poor – Christ himself said so.

    2) and following point 1), is it possible that the entire SJ mission is DESIGNED to be a distraction? Is it possible that its leadership and supporters are not interested in their goal as stated but rather the undermining of the Church itself?

    “The poor you will always have” points not only to futility of a “cure” but to its negligible importance in the Kingdom as compared to worship – I think. And I say that as one arguably among the first world’s version of the poor.


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