Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catholics - Divided and Confused

Politics at its worst….or best depending on who you talk to. Case in point, Paul Ryan the Senator from Wisconsin and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, GOP VP Candidate and oh least we forget… a Catholic.

Ooops! Did I say that out loud?

We’ll I guess the opposing campaign and Main Stream Media will have to address that won’t they?

And they have with today’s article in The Daily Caller Blog, referencing an interview. 
Hoping to discredit Mr. Ryan on his economic stance with arguments that would add to the debate and give voters a chance to decide isn’t enough for a win so let’s see what Paul Ryan’s former pastor has to say about his Catholicity.

To be fair Senator Ryan has stated his Catholicity and how his faith has aided in forming his stance on economics regarding the poor…so I guess it’s fair. Reverend Wright has been compared although I’m not sure it’s an equal fair comparison.

So let’s begin with an interview with his former pastor Father Stephen Umhoefer.

First off the interview is with a very left leaning media group, Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Sounds like a dirt finding mission but let’s read on.

To prep the good Fathers remarks, the article points out the letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, call for Catholics to “resist for moral and human reasons” Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’… (A mistake in my opinion)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took sharp exception, calling on Congress to resist "for moral and human reasons" cuts to food and nutrition programs to the poor. The Conference called instead for "shared sacrifice ... including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly." Faculty at Georgetown University put it more bluntly in an open letter to Ryan: "Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Oh and just for flavor, the faculty at Georgetown, Ayn Rand references…

Ok, now let’s toss into this salad of discredit, the rhetoric of Father Umhoefer.

The first question is how does this affect the poor. And everything else follows from that. That doesn't mean it's a Republican or Democrat [question] -- you could argue that. But the primary question is how does this affect the poor?"

Umhoefer said that Ryan's lack of attention to the poor and the emphasis on individualism espoused by role models such as Ayn Rand concerned him. "Paul would say that the only way to save the country from a coming [fiscal] disaster is 'follow my plan.'" But according to Umhoefer, the problem is "you can't tell somebody that in ten years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death."

The Father says he has never sat down to discuss politics with Mr. Ryan but what the heck right. Let the Father judge him on what he thinks Ryan really believes.
As a final crouton, I mean comment let’s ask Ryan to keep his Catholic views to himself…
"What I wish for Paul -- he is so smart and so articulate and has made this whole budget, which he can defend on his own view ... of how the economy and politics work. I wish he wouldn't bring in the Catholic church. He doesn't need to if his economic and political argument are strong, and I'm sure he believes that they are."
Nice Father, nice.

Now before you dot the I’s and cross the T’s on judging Paul Ryan GOP VP Candidate, Bishop Madison’s Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has also weighed in.

Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles — that is, “lay mission” for Catholics.
There’s more…

Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)
And in conclusion…
Above all, let us beg the Lord that divisions in our electorate will not be deepened so as to have a negative impact on pre-existing divisions within the Church during this electoral season. Let there be the peace and reconciliation that flow from charity on the part of all. Thank you for reading this. God Bless each one of you! Praised be Jesus Christ! (Sorry Father Umhoefer, I believe the Bishop’s view on this)    

So, you have some church leaders saying Nay and others saying Yea.

The hardest part for me in reading this article and its various links was reading the Comments. It’ very hard to say this but it appears the media and the Obama campaign is winning…Winning in the sense of dividing and confusing Catholics who are not educated in the true teachings of Catholic Social Doctrine and are being further confused by clergy who are well meaning but some who are equally ignorant of Catholic teachings in Social Doctrine. How do we tell the difference?

Where does one turn to for the truth if you can’t rely on the leaders of one’s own church to set the record straight with ONE VOICE?

With the exception of the Intrinsic Evils (Abortion, Euthanasia) the other non-intrinsic evils of social justice (helping the poor, caring for the sick and elderly…) are prudential judgments and Catholics are allowed to have a difference of opinion. But we should always look to the truths of what the Catholic Church teaches to inform our consciences.

The laity is going to have to tread carefully and with much prayer in educating oneself in the true teachings of the Catholic Church.

Hearing it taught from the pulpit isn’t going to happen with any fluidity. Not with all the homilies on what the second collection is about this Sunday. Helping the poor in this matter is charitable but after seeing the same homilist return every year around the same time you kind of get the feeling that this poverty thing isn’t going to end anytime soon and with one’s own finances dwindling one can’t always give as much as one would like.

No real substance to what the church teaches is ever really given fully (with a few exceptions), just that feeling of guilt for not being the one in your pew that doesn’t put anything in the basket.

There’s got to be more to helping the poor without going poor yourself.

And I hate those that say, ”well, unless you give your last dime…you’re not really giving.”

Really?, I’m sorry but I am just not at that level in my faith just yet I guess, cuz dragging my family into poverty just to say I gave my last dime isn’t going to happen. Maybe it’s that over-zealous “self preservation” gene in me. And yes I do know the difference of given from surplus and given from your need.

They even have you at the checkout stand at the local grocery store.

“Would you like to give to such-and-such organization? It’s only a dollar!” they ask out loud. You either hit the Yes or No button on the ATM monitor.

So how do we really help the poor? There’s got to be not just a better way….but the right way, the way of Jesus and His Church. We all want to help the poor. We all have those in our families, friends and neighbors, strangers on the street that we would love to end their plight and give relief to their suffering.

I especially get very emotional when I see or know of children suffering.

So decisions have to be made and candidates will have to be chosen. How do we get that true teaching in time for the ballot box.

Here are a few resources that I’ve investigated that have helped me begin to understand the teachings of the church on social doctrine.

1)  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church by USCCB     2)  Church, State, and Society: an Introduction to Catholic social doctrine by J. Brian Benestad     3)  Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy by Father Robert A. Sirico    4)  Render Unto Ceaser: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life by Bishop Charles J. Chaput     5)  The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts by Pontifical Council For Justice and Peach, Vatican    So where are Holy Scripture and the Catechism on this list you might ask? They’re there in these books and resources. They point to the scripture passages and CCC references.

You may ask, “Who is this guy?”

He’s just another self proclaimed Catholic blogger among many…and you would be right. I’m just an everyday (West Coast) Catholic seeking only the truth like you are.

You can’t get the truth strictly by listening to cable and local TV news or talk radio and not from Facebook either. Sometimes good intentioned individuals and religious will give you their two cents. (Including me)

So you have to do some research and study yourselves. It isn’t going to happen by osmosis. You need to put the time in.

Look for legitimate resources and verify them. Start with the Church and its books, encyclicals, church fathers and teachers, as well as other resources. Study alone or in groups of like minded Catholics seeking the truth.

And most of all pray, pray, pray. Lead a life of example, even when no one is looking…especially when no one is looking.

…cuz God always is.

Its well worth it and your faith and life will be for the better as well as for those around you. And keep from being divided and confused.

Be One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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