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Kool Aid Drinkin' Bishops

I read this excerpt from the USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Bishops) document titled: The Report on the Debt Ceiling Debate:

"There is still too little attention, discussion, or priority on how these decisions affect "the least among us." Bishop Ramírez also said at the White House, "In Washington, it often seems like Matthew 25 is 'whatsoever you do for the forgotten middle class you do unto me.'" This is not a dismissal of the needs of the middle class but simply points out that they have many champions, and those who are poor have very few.  We hope that the President and others will continue to speak more directly to these often overlooked priorities."
WOW...Really?? I was outraged when I read this.  Middle class champions? Where are these so called middle class champions? The middle class are the forgotten class.  What flavor Kool Aid is Bishop Ramirez drinking? Trust me- in this highly politicized culture the poor and the rich both have their voices.  It was an outrageous statement and indicative how the majority of the USCCB want to have their cake and eat it too.  On the one end they believe in property rights, and the right for individual economic initiative, but in the same breath they want universal, government mandated health care, constitutional rights for illegal immigrants, unlimited welfare assistance for the poor, and unfettered rights for workers to unionize.  Which one is it? Unfortunately based on Bishop Ramirez's statements it seems to be the latter.

Bishop Ramirez should have read Pope Benedict's encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.  Pope Benedict reflects on the proper role of the state in helping to alleviate poverty as he writes,

"There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.[20] The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.(28)

It is important to note that I am in no way against government assistance for the poor. What I am against is a permanent welfare class. Sometimes I feel that the middle class is underrepresented when it comes to the USCCB. I agree that the government must intervene, but not just through hand-outs, and welfare checks. The government should work to create the conditions necessary for personal initiative, and to encourage incentivized work programs which give each person the chance to get out of poverty through work. The solution is glaringly simple - The government needs to get out of the way of a person's ability for self sustenance. Once the government does this then it will unleash the God given potential of each of its citizens.

John Paul II I believe expresses this sentiment perfectly in his encyclical, Centesimus Annus as he reflects,

"The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though he exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose, since life itself has a unique value which the State and the market must serve." (49)

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement; as long as the human person is the ultimate end of our society and economy then everybody wins.  It is my hope that the USCCB does not fall into same trap that the Western European nations have in adopting a cradle to the grave socialism which has turned the state into a de facto religion.  Just look at the data in those countries where Socialism is most prevalent. In those countries the church is collapsing.  The USCCB needs to be careful that in their desire for equality for the poor that they are not unwitting pawns of those who seek to make socialism our country's de facto religion.


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