catholics

San Diego Bishop Tells Catholics to ‘All Become Disrupters’

Deal W. Hudson
February 20, 2017

Both the Catholic bishops of the United States and the Vatican have now virtually endorsed the strategy of “disruption” being used across the nation to oppose the new administration of President Trump. Held in Modesto, California, the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM), was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Department of Integral Human Development to address issues of “land, labor, and lodging,” as well as racism and immigration.

The 700 attendees applauded and cheered as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego told them, “President Trump was the candidate of disruption. . . . Well now, we must all become disrupters.” Bishop McElroy, along with Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blaise Cupich, has emerged as a leading voice among “social justice” Catholics determined to rally the Catholic Church to reject President Trump’s leadership and policy agenda.

Bishop McElroy specifically cited the deportation of the illegal immigrants, the “undocumented,” the plan to dismantle Obamacare, and “those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God.” McElroy decried the use of “alternate facts” and the “industries [that] have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns.” Finally, the bishop urged attendees to, “Let all the world know that this economy kills.”

The message delivered by the Bishop of San Diego would not be so notable were it not for the context and its sponsorship. Vatican sponsorship came from the newly-created Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (IHD), headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the closest advisors to Pope Francis. Cardinal Turkson was the primary author of the papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. It was Turkson who delivered the keynote address in Modesto. Under Turkson’s leadership similar conferences of “Popular Movements” have been held in the Vatican and other regions around the world.

Not only was the Modesto Conference co-sponsored by the Vatican and the USCCB but also by groups such as the PICO National Network. The PICO logo is displayed on the conference website alongside that of the Vatican, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and Terra Domus Labor. In addition to PICO — People Improving Communities through Organizing Service Employees International Union — the organizing committee included representatives from the Gamaliel Foundation. It has been widely reported and documented that both PICO and Gamaliel are recipients of funding from George Soros through his Open Society Foundation. PICO took Soros funding specifically aimed at controlling the media coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. in April 2015.

Given Bishop McElroy’s message, the context, and the sponsorship, two questions must be posed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to each Bishop individually: Do you support Bishop McElroy’s message of “let us disrupt and rebuild”? Are you content with participating in events, protests, and “disruptions,” that are supported with funding from George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation is directly opposed to the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, and marriage?

With President Trump already well on his way to keeping all of his pro-life promises, it’s shocking that the Catholic bishops would align themselves with such of strategy of disruption and with allies sworn to oppose the core of the Church’s moral teaching. Lay Catholics, and many clergy, across the nation are not merely shocked, but disheartened and beginning to wonder if a formal schism is in the making.

The USCCB should, in my opinion, issue a press release distancing itself from the remarks of Bishop McElroy to make sure Catholics know he was expressing his individual opinion and not that of the bishops collectively. At the same time, the USCCB should reconsider its partnership with groups like PICO and Gamaliel for the simple reason that they do not share the moral vision of the Catholic Church on basic human rights and duties, and the connection to George Soros has become a highly visible scandal.

Dr. Deal W. Hudson took over Crisis Magazine in 1995, leaving in 2010 to become president of Catholic Advocate. While at Crisis, Hudson led the Catholic voter outreach for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and later advised the campaigns of both John McCain and Donald Trump on Catholic outreach. In 2014, he began his weekly two-hour radio show, “Church and Culture,” on the Ave Maria Radio Network, and launched http://www.thechristianreview.com in 2015. His books include “Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction” and “Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Gov. Christie–A Politician Who Understands Subsidiarity

Deal W. Hudson

Because of the ongoing furor about who caused the holiday traffic jams in Northern New Jersey, much of what Gov. Christie has done well as governor has been forgotten. But, as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has distinguished himself in two ways as a Catholic politician. Not only he is pro-life, but he has aggressively pursuing a set of policies grounded in the principle of subsidiarity.

At a time when most prominent Catholic politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, have advocated federal government solutions to problems like health care, Gov. Christie led in the opposite direction in 2010 by releasing a New Jersey Privatization Task Force Report.

In the 57-page report, the Task Force proposes privatizing the state’s motor vehicle inspections, housing construction inspections, turnpike toll booths, state parks, psychiatric hospitals, as well as contracting for highway maintenance work, and outsourcing worker’s compensation claims and all pension, payroll, and benefit payments systems.

These recommendations, according to Christie, have saved New Jersey taxpayers over $200 million a year.
Next to the humanity of the unborn life, the principle of subsidiarity is the tenet of the Church’s social teaching most ignored by Catholic politicians.

However, unlike the 6th commandment – “thou shall not kill” – subsidiarity must be applied prudentially. The principle itself is simple, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains,

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)

Indeed, the Catechism is unambiguous in its claim that Catholics should uphold subsidiarity to offset one of the dangers of socialization, i.e., an “excessive intervention by the state” threatening “personal freedom and initiative” (CCC#1882-1883).

Christie has also sought to keep the burden of funding government from growing any further – he has proposed a constitutional amendment capping property tax increases at 2.5 percent above the prior year’s receipts. Christie explains, “That’s 2.5 percent growth in total for everything — municipal tax, county tax, and school tax. There is only one exception to this cap – to pay required debt service.”

The New Jersey governor’s further reliance on subsidiarity can be found in his 2010 speech supporting “parental choice” in education at American Federation of Children’s National Policy Summit Dinner in Washington, D.C. Legislation has already been introduced that would provide vouchers to students at “chronically failing schools,” like the ones in Newark that Christie described as “absolutely disgraceful.”

There were doubts raised during the campaign about Christie’s pro-life commitment, but those credentials were solidified by his eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood from the 2011 New Jersey budget. State Democrats are already pushing to restore the more than $7 million in funding despite an $11 billion dollar deficit next year (the state has been on the verge of bankruptcy).

It’s often said that some Catholic commentators focus too much on life and marriage issues, relegating prudential matters too far into the background. Gov. Christie’s performance provides an opportunity to reflect on the longer view of a Catholic in politics, as well as a good reason not to count Christie out for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Gov. Christie represents a pro-life Catholic politician drawing upon the principle of subsidiarity to make budgetary and policy choices that look to the private sector, not the federal government, for solutions to pressing problems.

Those Catholic members of Congress, well over a majority of them, who supported the president in his passage of Obamacare, the 2010 Patient and Affordable Care Act, however, ignored the principle of subsidiarity, and now that the sign-up “deadline” has now passed the insurance debacle is a matter of public record.

I think of what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his eloquent passage about subsidiarity in his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

Subsidiarity is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility. Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.

The Holy Father here articulates precisely the fear among many Americans fostered by the new health-care legislation in 2010, fears now becoming a reality as reports come in daily about the impossibility of jointing online and the dramatic rise of individual, family, and business health insurance. Any solution to the problems in our nation’s health-care system that eliminates personal responsibility and participation is the opposite of what subsidiarity demands, and that solution is destined for failure.

Human well-being, as taught in the Catholic tradition, is always a product of action, of an individual’s active participation in the acquiring of the basic goods necessary to life. Subsidiarity begins with the recognition that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative” (1883).

One final point: Some commenters have muddied the waters by comparing the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity to the non-negotiable moral teachings on abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage, implying that Catholics need not always add subsidiarity to their judgments about foreign policy.

It’s true that the principle of subsidiarity is not a moral act, and thus is not comparable to an act like abortion. But it should never be ignored as a way of viewing the relationship between individual well-being and the various levels of institutions and governments that exert influence and authority over our thoughts and actions. Gov. Christie’s success due to employing subsidiarity in contrast to the massive failure of Obamacare, due to its rejection of subsidiarity, prove once again the wisdom of Catholic social teaching.
If subsidiarity is forgotten, if individual liberty and responsibility are not protected, then tyranny is inevitable; and with tyranny will come heinous moral crimes as well. Subsidiarity acts as a kind of nonstop watchman of, and advocate for, human freedom.

Thus, to ignore the Church’s principle of subsidiarity is no moral crime per se, but it encourages habits of dependency and the avoidance of responsibility that undermine human dignity.

The Self-Examination of a Politically Active Catholic

Deal W. Hudson

Over the last four national elections, I have led outreach efforts to Catholic voters, specifically those who attend Mass regularly.

During each campaign, I stressed the political importance of the settled, or non-negotiable issues as taught by the Catholic Church: opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, fetal stem cell experimentation, and religious liberty.

About prudential issues, I stressed that “good Catholics” can disagree, but all should begin their reasoning from the first principles of Catholic moral and social teaching: the common good, human dignity and rights, subsidiarity, solidarity, and the preferential option for the poor.

I have no regrets about how I led these outreach programs, the teaching of the Church was represented accurately, and the teaching authority of the bishops was always underscored with respect. I do regret those times my own voice became angry or bitter, and I apologize to any and all who witnessed those moments.

Yet, when the results of the November 6, 2012 election became clear early that evening, I realized it was time not for finger-pointing about voter fraud, the GOP establishment, Romney’s emphasis on the economy rather than social issues, the failure of get-out-the-vote, the continued alienation of Latino voters over immigration, or alphabetical voter guides issued by state Catholic conferences; it was time for self-examination.

The moment arrived just a few days ago as I sat listening to a group of national faith leaders discuss “what went wrong” when the country sent the Obama/Biden ticket back to the White House for another four years. I agreed with most of what was said, but much of the tone, the how it was said, turned me off. I thought to myself, “If I am turned off, then much of America must be turned off as well.”

The next day, my son Chip and I met a young man from Texas for breakfast, a new friend who I had grown to like very much over the past year. He asked me what I thought of the meeting the previous day, and I found myself saying something that surprised me:

“You know why people become Christians, it’s because of love, God’s love. People are burdened with guilt, with their sins and failures. They need and want forgiveness, redemption from the past, hope for the future, they want a happier life and to be with God in eternity.”

“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavily laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

My young friend’s eyes grew big and his smile even larger; he not only agreed but also had been waiting to hear someone well-established in “Christian politics” say it. I had not planned to say it, I told him, it just popped out, a product of my own frustration with the way Christians had been presenting themselves and their moral issues to the nation during a political season of historical importance.

But I knew I couldn’t just leave it there. I hadn’t intended to dismiss, or leave behind, the political effort over the past 50 years to articulate and defend the Christian vision that permeates the American Founding and natural and revealed laws that show us the way to the common good.

Let me put it this way: There is an inherent tension, almost a conflict, between what Christians must do in a political campaign and what Christians do in evangelization. In politics we focus on moral standards, standards of conduct and action; as evangelists we reach out to those whose failure to keep those standards have left them cut off from God and feeling alienated from the Church and its teachings. In politics we insist that people respect and abide by certain moral standards, but as evangelists we call these same people to “come home” even if they have not been living by them, if they have broken God’s laws and commandments.

I know what I am saying is subject to caricature as a kind of “faith without works” attitude, but, of course, given more time I would tell, as they say, “the whole story.” We enter the Church broken, and over time through its teaching and the grace of the sacraments we learn and we grow; the “works” will follow.

This, too, is subject to caricature as if I am saying that “sin” is gradually erased from our lives, and, of course, that is not the case. But our sin is a constant reminder of why we gave ourselves to God in the first place, why we need His grace and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The humility that is pressed upon us by the constant repetition of sin and forgiveness has no place in our “religious outreach” to voters. This is not a criticism of our political efforts; it’s the simple consequence of Christians seeking a goal in the political order, the election of one candidate rather than another, the support of one policy rather than another.

I’m not suggesting religious leaders should stand at political rallies and qualify every declaration of support for life, marriage, and religious liberty with, “And, by the way, I am a sinner who needs to ask for God’s forgiveness every day of my life.” That turns a political event into a religious one, or at least creates a confusing amalgam of both.

The best any of us can do, as Christians in politics, is pay close attention to our tone and our visage: What are we communicating by how we talk and by how we present ourselves to the world? Would anyone of good will who disagrees with us see or hear that we are attempting to share a gift or would they say we are “puffed up” with pride?

It’s our way of speaking, and what used to be called “comportment,” that reminds those on the campaign trail that as Christians we are not reducing ourselves to advocates of a few moral maxims, no matter how important. Our kindness, patience, and good humor in the midst of political rancor can be witness to the heart of our faith, to the heart of the the Church.

Going forward, we should always remember:

“Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…” (1 Cor 13:1)