By WILLIAM MAYER
April 27, 2011 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The Catholic University of America is sponsoring a symposium [120th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum: Church, Labor, and the New Things of the Modern World, http://ipr.cua.edu/RN120th.cfm] dealing with Catholic social justice teaching on May 2nd and 3rd at the university's Pryzbyla Center.
Increasingly, since Vatican II, the Catholic "social justice" movement has been the refuge of politicized theologians eager to reorder the planet in a utopian manner. They do this under the guise of an invented moral authority which only gives lip service to Christian orthodoxy. [Note: A comprehensive study of the steady march to the left by the Church since Rerum Novarum, by this writer is available at, Bitter Harvest: How Marxist Progressives" Have Infiltrated the American Catholic Church]
The keynote speaker's list is anything but eclectic, with the deck slanted heavily towards those with a hard-left/socialist perspective, starting with John Sweeney.
Sweeney, who was president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 until 2009, has a long history of activism on behalf of socialistic causes and has been tied by various sources as having been a member of the Democratic Socialists of America [DSA]. The DSA is a wing of the Socialist International [see, http://www.dsausa.org/international/index.html], a Stalinist artifact and a significant player in the world-wide communist movement.
According to a document arising from the DSA's 2010 National Meeting, we find the group still relying on the good will of both Sweeney and Bob King, the current president of the United Auto Workers.
"Joe moved that David Green, Paul Garver, Stuart Elliott and Frank Llewellyn discussgetting John Sweeney or Bob King to sign the letter asking unions to place ads inDemocratic Left. The letter is to go out early and be followed up by skilled phoning. Thiswas seconded and passed unanimously." [source, http://www.dsausa.org/minutes/NPC2010jan30.pdf, pg. 2]
The tenor of the event's panelists is demonstrated by the participation of Harold Myerson, who is the editor at large for the American Prospect Magazine. According to authoritative sources, the magazine has enjoyed financial support from George Soros and his Open Society Institute [see, Discover the Networks, http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237]
John Carr, a dedicated leftist and the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice Peace and Human Development effort will also be in attendance as a panelist.
Another key speaker at the conference is Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice [PCPJ], part of the Vatican's Roman Curia. He is considered a very strong rising force and a serious potential candidate for the Papacy post Benedict XVI. Hence his appearance at this event carries special significance.
One of Turkson's duties is to implement a milestone 2004 PCPJ document, entitled, Compendium of the Social Justice of the Church, with which we must assume Turkson is in full agreement.
This massive 138,000 word tome lays out in explicit detail the degree to which the "new" Church justifies socialism using an inventive mock Christian philosophy which relies extensively on subjective notions such as the "common good," a term which [using several web search devices] doesn't even appear in the King James version of the Bible [there is, however a single mention of "common good" in the New International edition of the Bible, appearing in I Corinthians, 12-7, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."]
For example, the Compendium contains the following, which is representative of the Church's revisionism in defense of "distributive justice."
"Everyone also has the right to enjoy the conditions of social life that are brought about by the quest for the common good. The teaching of Pope Pius XI is still relevant: the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is labouring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice" . [source, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html]
Using such concepts, meaningless definitionally within a Christian context, the Church declares government's right to redistribute wealth, for example:
303. The economic well-being of a country is not measured exclusively by the quantity of goods it produces but also by taking into account the manner in which they are produced and the level of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone access to what is necessary for their personal development and perfection. An equitable distribution of income is to be sought on the basis of criteria not merely of commutative justice but also of social justice that is, considering, beyond the objective value of the work rendered, the human dignity of the subjects who perform it. Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen."
On private property the document declares:
"177. Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute and untouchable: On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone". The principle of the universal destination of goods is an affirmation both of God's full and perennial lordship over every reality and of the requirement that the goods of creation remain ever destined to the development of the whole person and of all humanity. This principle is not opposed to the right to private property but indicates the need to regulate it. Private property, in fact, regardless of the concrete forms of the regulations and juridical norms relative to it, is in its essence only an instrument for respecting the principle of the universal destination of goods; in the final analysis, therefore, it is not an end but a means.
Demonstrative of the lack of a scriptural basis for such sweeping judgments, the reader is referred to Populorum Progressio, an Encyclical authored in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, wherein the justification for a claimed ownership in common of "private" property rests on a statement by Saint Ambrose, a fourth century Bishop. The vast majority of the Catholic Church's social justice assertions have a similarly weak theological grounding.
It naturally follows then - with such little regard for private property - that the new Catholicism endorses the expropriation of private property, in turn destroying the basis upon which the concept itself rests.
"24. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.
Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man's capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country's interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country. (25)"
It is against this backdrop which the 120th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum: Church, Labor, and the New Things of the Modern World event will take place.
The tenor of the event, really an effort to propagandize appears to be out of harmony with the mission statement of the Catholic University of the U.S., "...this university has a responsibility to the Church in the United States that is special to it: It is called to be an intellectual center of highest quality, where the relation between revealed truth and human truth can be examined in depth and with authority..." [source, http://www.cua.edu/about-cua/mission-statement.cfm].
Given the selection of speakers and the very state of the Catholic social justice theory it's hard to imagine this conference resulting in a questioning or rejection of the deadly utopianism which the Church now embraces. We do note that Cardinal Turkson has expressed surprise in recent interviews [see for example, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-official-says-churchs-justice-teachings-need-new-vocabulary-for-some-us-audiences/] that many of the terms used in describing the Church's social justice teaching might be misinterpreted because of their similarity with socialist terminology. We maintain the problem is not one of a semantic nature but one of leftist economic policies presented alongside specious theological justification and suspect that this conference will simply provide more meaningless chatter in support of these noxious doctrines.
For an instructive counterpoint, demonstrating the deviational nature of Catholic social justice theory, please refer to Matthew 20:1-16, wherein the landowner asserts to an ungrateful vineyard worker that it is his right to pay the same wage to the laborer who worked all day as his counterpart, who had only worked a few hours, "...Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?"
The landowner makes two key points regarding equity and justice. One that the landowner's money is his personal property, to dispose of as he sees fit; and two, the passage demonstrates the fact that two workers had the right to engage in a contract to perform unequal work for the same pay.
Neither of these seemingly basic rights, fully accepted during Jesus' ministry, would pass muster under the revisionism of modern Catholic social justice concepts.
Full text of the scriptural passage:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen..."
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