Saturday, May 3, 2008

Catholic Social Justice and the Free Market

This is an article by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. over at entitled A Catholic Defense of the Free Market.

He brings forth multiple interesting points here, and I think I'm going to make it a series as I run through the different issues addressed. To sort of set the backdrop, I'm going to bring up a couple of things that often get ignored in all the hullaballoo that goes on whenever this topic comes up.

The infiltration of socialist thinking into the Church is a direct product of the Second Vatican Council's refusal to condemn communism. And yes, I use the words socialism and communism interchangeably. I have yet to see a convincing argument for the semantic word games people like to play with these terms, so I will continue to regard them as synonymous for all practical purposes.

It is a little known tidbit of history that Pope John XXIII had a clandestine deal negotiated with the Soviet Union in order to assure the presence of Russian Orthodox clergy at the Council. This deal, usually labelled The Pact of Metz, carried with it Pope John's promise that the Council would not issue a condemnation of communism.

The lack of such a condemnation was a striking omission to folks paying attention. Communism had no greater enemy on the planet than the Catholic Church. This abominable doctrine had been utterly reprobated since its inception by every Pope who dealt with the subject. Unfortunately, supporters of Marxist thought were percolating throughout the clergy, and Vatican II's silence gave them the opportunity to bubble up to the service. This problem of Vatican II giving an inch, followed by heretics taking a mile is a familiar pattern in the post-conciliar era.

In this case, the dissent indeed took the form of the so-called "liberation theology" of certain Latin American churchmen. This mixing of Marxism and Christianity brought an extreme crackdown from Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. That such thinking is heretical cannot be doubted. You either wind up with "better theology through guns" or the replacement of the Church's primary goal, that of the supernatural mission to save souls, with a purely natural end of caring for temporal needs. Frankly, it doesn't profit a guy much to get a good meal if he winds up in hell.

Of course, by the time JPII and Cardinal Ratzinger were on the scene, the damage had been done. Marxist theories had thoroughly penetrated into the minds of many clergy and were being disseminated as legitimate. Dissent having been made noble and glamorous in the 60s and 70s, people were firmly ensconced in their views of not giving a crap what the Magisterium actually said. And that's how we got where we are.

Preferential option for the poor is now regarded as a mandate for communism. The temporal is exalted above the supernatural. Catholic social policy is painted more and more in left-wing shades, which further complicates our political position by confusing the faithful voters into thinking that they can actually support pro-abortion candidates just because this individual is in favor of a large federal welfare state.

Let me be clear from the outset. I do not think Mr. Woods is correct in his treatment of the matter either, and he passes over a great deal that seems to me very important here. We'll explore the different facets of this deal over the next couple of weeks, I think.

For those who seek references for my above comments, I suggest any talks given by Fr. Vincent Micelli, SJ or the book Iota Unum by Romano Amerio.

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