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October 3, 2012

Nuns on a Boat Still Morally Adrift

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

One of the worst parts about mixing religion with politics is that we lose sight of what religion is supposed to be about — God, His love, salvation. When we blend the two topics, we get some odd mix of quasi-religion with a large dose of politics. For when the two topics are mixed, God always gets the shaft.

What we also get is a theological debate concerning spending priorities, especially when left-leaning religious people lead the debate. They always tend to frame government spending as a necessary fulfilling of Christ’s command to “love our neighbor” by pouring more and more into social programs.

Sister Simone Campbell, a left-leading nun and the Executive Director of the NETWORK lobby (who just so happened to speak at the Democrat National Convention this year), recently attacked Republican Congressman from Staten Island, Michael Grimm, for his support of the Congressman Paul Ryan budget that she claims will do great harm to families.

Left-learning religious folk completely mistake government spending with the theological understanding of Christian charity. Or as The Institute on Religion and Democracy recently wrote:

While, in the understanding of the Church, we Christians are indeed morally obligated to help the poor, the sick, and the needy, principles of subsidiarity require that charity is enacted primarily through the actions of individuals and the Church who can treat the poor as individuals with dignity. According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms…. In order for the principle of subsidiarity to be put into practice there is a corresponding need for: respect and effective promotion of the human person and the family; …he encouragement of private initiative so that every social entity remains at the service of the common good, … appropriate methods for making citizens more responsible in actively “being a part” of the political and social reality of their country.

Furthermore, according to Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate, this principle of subsidiarity has a reciprocal relationship with solidarity with the poor, and indeed justice itself cannot exist without it:

Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State. While in the past it was possible to argue that justice had to come first and gratuitousness could follow afterwards, as a complement, today it is clear that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place. […] Unfortunately, too much confidence was placed in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone.

Therefore, while the scaling back financial growth for these programs is lamentable, it is a matter of prudence rather than the morals Sr. Campbell claims it to be. No one is suggesting that we do not have an obligation to help the poor and needy, but, as the bishops have stated, “reasonable minds can come to different conclusions about more effective ways” to making sure that the weak and needy are protected.

This is why religious leaders cannot, in my opinion, be politicians. Our job to bring God to the sinful and the hurting, not to play politics. The Church, whether Lutheran or Roman Catholic or Protestant, is to work to bring God to those in need. We should not be using the bully pulpit to bash elected officials for their political opinions.


12-09-28 LIFE Nuns on a Boat Still Morally Adrift – Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD): “”

(Via The Institute of Religion and Democracy.)


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