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Essays, Justice

US Catholic Theologians and Scholars Issue “On All of Our Shoulders”

2 thoughts on “US Catholic Theologians and Scholars Issue “On All of Our Shoulders”

  1. It was never Christ’s intent to rest the burden of welfare and charity on the shoulders of the government, but the shoulders of the Church. Government is a poor surrogate for the caring, loving, and efficient work of Christ’s followers to not only meet the physical needs of the poor, but, and more importantly, to meet their spiritual needs and bring them into a saving relationship with Christ and God the Father. Frankly, I find it a lazy and greedy solution to the problem. Lazy in that it shirks the the responsibility of Christians and the Church to meet this need. And greedy in it’s appearance to allow the church to expect tithes and offerings for this purpose, then expecting the government to spend it’s resources on it and not the Church.

    1. First of all, I would try to avoid attributing vices (greed, laziness) to others.

      Second, your complaint may have actually more to do with the Catholic theological tradition as a whole. That is fine. Just say so. Otherwise, there are a lot of things that Christian churches, including the Catholic church, believe and teach today that have no explicit reference in the words and deeds of Jesus, such as just war theory which allows for the defense of the innocent under certain conditions and within certain guidelines governing the use of force. Jesus never said anything explicitly allowing for that. Maybe that is a problem; many think not.

      Of course at the time of Jesus he did not teach that government has such a role, given the government at the time (the Roman empire) rather than how political entities have developed over the centuries (modern democratic states, for example). Still, the governing authorities in Israel and Judah prior to the fall of those kingdoms centuries earlier were indeed expected to do justice especially for the anawim: the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the strangers in their midst.

      The Roman Catholic theological tradition, especially the Thomistic rather than the Augustinian (though there are differences even within this latter camp) threads, has a more positive view of the role of political government; however, it also holds that all persons and groups have a role to play in contributing to the common good, including with regard to social and economic justice: the church, the family, local government, state and federal government, civic groups, etc. If you are interested in seeing more about this, I recommend reading other posts on our site on the topic as well as referring to the blog at catholicmoraltheology.com, where there are many posts on the subject, including on principles of Catholic social teaching such as subsidiarity and solidarity.

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