Regular readers of this blog know that it is a major contention here that the current “war of wills,” so to speak, between Obama’s federal government and the Roman Catholic Church is the result not of merely recent developments but of a long, almost 100 year history of capitulation of the Church to government.
The Church was in favor of the federal government’s bailout of mortgages during the 1930s, for example, and of government “relief” efforts otherwise as well. Admittedly, these efforts may have eased the burden of poverty for many. The question remains, however, as to whether government is the right actor to perform the tasks of what is rightly considered “charity.” Charity works only one way, in only one direction– from the one who has toward the one who needs and does not have. It is not charity, but theft, if the one who perceives a need presumes some moral moral legitimacy, a “right,” to take from one who has.
An idea which must be disposed of early in this debate is that “It is fine to claim philosophical purity in a reliance on private charity, but it will not work and requires the involvement of secular entities, such as government. This is closely akin to saying that Jesus’ myriad admonitions in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in Scripture are mere hypothetical fantasies; nice ideas but not realistically achievable. Apparently the leadership of the Church in the United States is of this persuasion.
One such example of the reliance on secular entities to do the Church’s charitable mission (not its primary mission, incidentally) is through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. This organization is the main charitable arm of the USCCB.
One of the beneficiaries, indeed, the biggest beneficiary of CCHD funding is the Industrial Areas Foundation. The goals of the Industrial Areas Foundation are generally expressed in innocuous language that sounds much like Catholic social teaching. Claimed activities include the promotion of the “Nehemiah Housing Program” which claims to have helped many low-income people purchase taxpayer-subsidized housing in Brooklyn, the South Bronx, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Another activity is to promote the growth of federal welfare spending. The Industrial Areas Foundation was begun by Saul Alinski, who dedicated one of his his books, Rules for Radicals, to “Lucifer.” Yes, that “Lucifer.”
The inclination of the USCCB, through its Campaign for Human Development to support organizations such as the IAF, is at odds with the United States’ founding principles of a free market, absence of government involvement in churches, the sanctity of privately owned, legitimately and honestly acquired property, the preservation of peace, (which can only be accomplished in our fallen world by means of a powerful military and the willingness to use it). These are some (certainly not all) things we know, by our God-given intellect and from observation, to be good and right and true.
Opposed to these principles are beliefs by many that there are universal human rights to things which we are obliged to provide for ourselves, as best we can. A “right” to that which has been honestly earned, paid for, and legitimately is owned by another simply does not exist. There is, however, a flip side: As one in need has no right to simply “take possession” of what he perceives he needs, the one who does own goods in reality is obliged by a moral responsibility to be a prudent and wise steward of those goods. Part of that stewardship is the provision of needs to those who cannot, for whatever reason, provide these for themselves. This is that beautiful characteristic we know as Christian charity.
It is the purpose of this entry and others to follow to prevent, as much as possible, the funding of the Campaign for Human Development.