Not to be missed: Bishop Robert McElroy’s new America magazine article, “A Church for the Poor.” Some snips:
Both the substance and methodology of Pope Francis’ teachings on the rights of the poor have enormous implications for the culture and politics of the United States and for the church in this country. These teachings demand a transformation of the existing Catholic political conversation in our nation, a transformation reflecting three themes: prioritizing the issue of poverty, focusing not only on intrinsic evils but also on structural sin, and acting with prudence when applying Catholic moral principles to specific legal enactments.
If the Catholic Church is truly to be a “church for the poor” in the United States, it must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues the Catholic community pursues at this moment in our nation’s history. Both abortion and poverty countenance the deaths of millions of children in a world where government action could end the slaughter. Both abortion and poverty, each in its own way and to its own degree, constitute an assault on the very core of the dignity of the human person, instrumentalizing life as part of a throwaway culture. The cry of the unborn and the cry of the poor must be at the core of Catholic political conversation in the coming years because these realities dwarf other threats to human life and dignity that confront us today.
The core teaching of the church on the role of government in combating poverty declares that in addition to promoting conditions that provide meaningful jobs for their citizens, nations must provide a humane threshold of income, health benefits and housing. Just as important, as Pope Francis has repeatedly taught, wealthy nations must work ardently to reduce gross inequalities of wealth within their borders and beyond. Accomplishing these goals requires a series of complex prudential decisions about financial structures, incentives for wealth creation and income support programs that enhance rather than undermine family life. Many different types of choices are compatible within a full commitment to Catholic teachings on economic justice.
But choices by citizens or public officials that systematically, and therefore unjustly, decrease governmental financial support for the poor clearly reject core Catholic teachings on poverty and economic justice. Policy decisions that reduce development assistance to the poorest countries reject core Catholic teachings. Tax policies that increase rather than decrease inequalities reject core Catholic teachings. The nature and tone of Pope Francis’ declarations on poverty and evil in the world powerfully convey that while prudence is necessary in the formulation of economically just policies, the categorical nature of Catholic teaching on economic justice is clear and binding.
But there’s plenty more. Read the whole thing here. Thank you to Bishop McElroy for his fine work.