Category Archives: Economic Issues
By Stephen Phelan
It’s a good thing that the conversation about “Social Justice” is heating up again. The exchange between Deacon Keith Fournier and Deal Hudson is the latest between faithful Catholics who are serious about helping the Church communicate its teaching on the proper ordering of society with regard to politics and economics, and how those who have some degree of wealth can best enter into solidarity those who don’t. (more…)
By: Anne Hendershott
Now that they have completed their work in helping to pass President Obama’s health care reform legislation—replete with public funding for abortion—the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations (PICO), a progressive national network of faith-based organizations, is once again taking money from the Bishops’ CCHD fund to support the President’s financial reforms. With an initiative called “Our Money Our Values,” PICO teams with Faithful America to pressure banks to “serve the needs of the people…We’re organizing personal bank accounts, congregational investments, and even public dollars as leverage in negotiating with top bank executives to win the reforms our communities need.”
Like health care reform, this newest PICO initiative aims to redistribute wealth by demanding that “faith leaders step into the big banks’ boardrooms.” Claiming on the website (www.ourmoneyourvalues.org) that “we’ve got real money on the table, but it’s still a big fight,” they complain that the banks “continue to use our money to generate obscene profits for those at the top.”
Like recalcitrant teenagers who are more than happy to take an allowance from their parents, yet unwilling to take their advice, PICO continues to take money from the Bishops’ CCHD collections, but as with health care reform, they remain unwilling to accept their authority.
Founded in 1972 under the leadership of Father John Baumann, a Jesuit who learned community organizing in Chicago, PICO has a history of using CCHD money to promote pro-choice candidates for office. During the campaign for health care reform, PICO organized “Faith and Health Care Sundays” throughout the country. Teaming with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the George Soros funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, PICO provided congregations with a Health Care Tool Kit to help sell the legislation.
On many of these Sunday sessions, PICO brought pro-choice politicians to the churches to promote health care reform. In fact, the main speaker at the PICO “prayer vigil” for health care in Orange County, California in September, 2009, was Representative Loretta Sanchez, a pro-choice Democrat. She was joined at the head table by Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong. A decade before, CCHD-supported community agencies like PICO and the Orange County Organizing Project helped Ms. Sanchez defeat Catholic pro-life Representative Bob Dornan.
Now their attention has turned to financial reform. On April 29th, PICO and Faithful America joined with allies, including the National People’s Action, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and MoveOn.org at a 4,000 person rally and march in New York City to confront banks with their demands. Carrying placards saying “No Bonuses for Big Banks” and “Wall Street: Never Again,” demonstrators took over the lobbies of Chase Bank and Wells Fargo/Wachovia “in order to get our message of reform to the leadership and CEOs of those institutions. We chanted, sang and refused to be moved until a letter with our demands was delivered to the offices of the CEOs.”
As the organizers of the April 29th rally state: “Our goal is to force a which-side- are-you-on-movement for U. S. senators on the issue of Wall Street reform: Are they with the American people or are they with the Wall Street Banks?”
Most Catholics who have generously supported the CCHD with their parishioner donations would agree that they wish to help the poor. Most would also agree that financial reform is needed. But, few would agree with the redistribution of income that this President’s financial reform legislation promises. But, the Bishops continue to collect money from parishioners and give it to organizations that continue to lobby against them.
By: Stephen Phelan
Good luck catching Katie Couric talking about the “staunch Baptist” who finally came around to supporting sex education for third-graders. Only slightly more common are mainstream media types who talk about how this or that political leader, “a devout Jew,” finally saw the light and came around to the Left’s position on some social policy issue.
Yet there are flocks of sincere-looking talking heads willing to assure us that the congressman who just passionately endorsed “gay marriage” is a “staunch” or “devout” Catholic.
Why is this? Why is it that only Catholics’ supposed sincerity about their faith is worthy of comment when the media reports said Catholic’s position on some issue?
There are probably several reasons for this odd phenomenon, but one in particular calls for special attention in today’s social and political climate: The marauding secularists of the media and the rest of the Left actually crave the moral authority of the very institution they are trying to destroy.
This is why President Obama and others of the secular Left, with the help of far too many fake Catholics, now openly strive to divide the Church in America. Besides democracy itself, the one institution that stands between them and far left utopia is the Catholic Church. This is why the Church must be turned against itself, confused, and brought to heel. Sadly, they are doing so with great efficiency and success as of late.
Case in point: No serious person, Right or Left, believes Nancy Pelosi when she claims devotion to her faith as her reasoning for supporting liberal policies and legislation. But everyone knows why she says it.
One of the many ironies here is that the very Magisterium that Pelosi and other fake Catholics find so inconvenient to their worldview is positively tepid in cracking down on heretics compared to the Magisterium of the Left. When Joe Lieberman, a staunch progressive from Connecticut, dared to oppose his party on the Iraq War, he was mercilessly attacked from the Left, and even had to leave the party to run for reelection. He was essentially excommunicated.
And consider how consistent pro-life Democrats are treated by the Left, from Pennsylvania’s devoutly liberal but pro-life Bob Casey being denied even the ability to address the Democratic convention in 1992 to the few recent pro-life holdouts on Obamacare. Bart Stupak flirted with excommunication from the Left for opposing health care reform, but ultimately sided with his party against the Church. And yet, he remains a Catholic in good standing.
Faithful Catholics could only wish that their doctrine were so rigorously, if not so viciously, enforced. We know that Catholic teaching by its very nature seeks to persuade, not to impose. Taken to heart and mind, it becomes an organic expression of the Faith, a welcome guide rather than a set of laws forced upon reluctant believers. But at least we admit that we have a Magisterium, just as we admit our consternation when public figures consistently flout Church teaching and suffer no serious consequences from that same authority/Magisterium for doing so.
The secular Left, however, admits no such thing. True believers of the Left utterly lack this self-awareness. Not only would they deny that they have a Magisterium, or even a body of teachings from which the faithful may not dissent, they even deny that absolute obeisance is required to be a member of the faith, er… party.
Yet there stands the Catholic Church, in meek and peaceful opposition to the secular Leftist/fake Catholic zeitgeist. That antiquated, hegemonic, paternalistic… Church(!) dares to continue to reach out to and reason with those who only seek its acquiescence or destruction.
As the mainstream media declares yet again, and in ever more strident and frustrated tones, the irrelevance of the Catholic Church, they accidentally affirm its true relevance. The Church’s teaching authority, both loathed and envied by the Left, is essential to its unity, and is the natural legacy of the Church founded by Christ upon the Rock that was Peter.
To be sure, this does not mean that the Church is somehow more at home on the political Right. Any agreement between the Church and the modern American Right is accidental, as is any apparent agreement with the Left. The Church rightly dictates no political program, even if it is often dishonestly portrayed as doing so. Further, not every position of the Left is anti-Catholic. Cap-and-Trade, for example, is terrible economics justified by specious “science,” but it isn’t necessarily anti-Catholic. The difference, however, between the Church’s relationship with Left and Right is that there is not currently any major organized force on the Right trying to divide and conquer the Church, as there is on the Left. History tells us this could change at any moment.
Still, one might ask why the Catholic Church is singled out for such aggressive attention. Why not Christianity as a whole, or even certain Protestant denominations? After all, aren’t conservative evangelicals also a thorn in the side of those who want “gay marriage,” valueless sex education, and other radical policies to be realized?
The faithful Catholics I know are proud to fight next to their Protestant brethren in the culture wars, and enjoy the occasions of unity and dialogue that these battles afford. We tend to have much greater respect for those who love and live their faith consistently, even if we disagree about important things, than we have for those who only claim their faith when it is politically expedient.
But why should Obama and company seek to divide denominations that were themselves born of division? If a church is conceived in protest, then it will, as we have seen throughout the centuries, continue to divide itself. That battle has already been won by the one who wants to see Christ’s children divided and fighting among themselves. If you want unity, you have to return to the source; and if you want to cause division, you attack the source.
This is why Obama enlists the help of fake Catholics, and of universities who seek communion with secular powers more than they do with the Church that created them. He does so precisely because of their claim to the Catholic Faith.
This is also why the current ambiguity of Catholic identity in the public square is, to use an overused term, unsustainable. Obama’s Notre Dame speech, Pelosi’s multiple idiotic affronts to Catholic teaching, the health care debacle—these and other troubling events indicate that the moment when Catholics will actually have to make a choice about where they stand is rapidly approaching.
Many more Catholics each day realize that the next Great Divorce in the Church is inevitable—the divorce between those who think their faith is essentially a “go-along-to-get-along” proposition, and those who know that, even after a period of affluence and apparent harmony, the Faith never had anything to do with merely getting along. As Deal Hudson and other Catholic writers are increasingly arguing, the state is poised to force this decision upon the massive Catholic middle who haven’t yet chosen a side.
Students of Catholic history know that great expansions of the Church always follow its great oppressions, as it is purified by fire—sometimes literally. This is a time of both great instability and great hope. It’s a great time to be Catholic.
By: Chuck Piola
A friend shared with me the following tax analogy. It is so humorously true that I want to pass it along. Although this story has been circulated on the Internet, there are plenty of people who will read it for the first time here. It comes from an unknown source via Thomas Davies, Professor of Accounting and Chair of the Division of Accounting and Business Law at The University of South Dakota School of Business. According to Snopes.com, the story was given to Professor Davies who then distributed it to his graduate students without commentary in an effort to get them to think outside the box. Davies noted, “It is rather easy to focus on the myriad of complex rules and forget that tax policy frequently influences taxpayer behavior beyond what may have been intended.”
Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.
That’s what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language, a tax cut).
“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.” So now dinner for the ten only costs $80.00.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But, what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?”
The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. “But he got $7!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man, “I only saved a dollar, too . . . It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man, “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered a little late, what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.
Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!
How true! Sad, but true.
Remind your elected leaders that free enterprise, not the government, pays the bills in this country.
Chuck Piola is a nationally recognized speaker, sales consultant, and sales trainer. Visit www.ChuckPiola.com to learn more, to submit a question, or to suggest a topic. To schedule Chuck as a keynote speaker or to learn about cooperative marketing opportunities with the Piola Forum contact Lorraine@LorraineRanalli.com.
By: Anne Hendershott
As the 2010 commencement season concludes, a review of the graduation speakers and honorees reveals, yet again, that Catholic colleges continue to honor pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage politicians on their campuses.
Drawing from research compiled from the Cardinal Newman Society, California Catholic Daily reports that several Catholic colleges—many of them in California—have invited commencement speakers or awarded honorary degrees to those whose public positions and actions are clearly at odds with fundamental Catholic teachings. Despite the USCCB’s 2004 statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” which maintains that Catholic colleges “must not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the reality remains that these Catholic campuses continue to defy the bishops’ instructions.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, a career Democratic politician who during 20 years as a Democratic state legislator compiled a nearly perfect pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood voting record addressed the graduates at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. California Catholic Daily points out that “O’Connell was a high profile opponent of Proposition 8, the initiative constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 that defined marriage in California as between one man and one woman.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, O’Connell was featured in TV ads urging voters to reject Proposition 8, claiming that public schools would not teach or influence students to favor same-sex marriage. O’Connell worked in direct opposition to the current Bishop of Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, St. Mary’s presiding bishop and one of the main promoters of the pro-Proposition 8 campaign. As a reward for his defiance of their bishop, O’Connell was given the honor of addressing the graduates of the Catholic college.
The pro-abortion Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, was the commencement speaker at Loyola Marymount University. Prior to serving as governor, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton administration where he claims to have “led the fight to keep discrimination out of the Massachusetts constitution and preserve the right of same sex couples to marry.”
Loyola Marymount also invited Marlene Canter, a former Democratic member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board, to address the Graduate commencement. In Los Angeles, Canter has called the legalization of same sex marriage “an issue of simple fairness and basic human rights.” The Cardinal Newman Society also reports that Canter has opposed a parental notification abortion law.
The University of San Francisco gave an honorary degree to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, and a strong proponent of Obama’s health care reform – replete with abortion funding. While Dean is not a politician, he has been a generous donor to the Democratic Obama campaign, and joined Sr. Carol Keehan in defying the bishops on passing the health care reform plan. USF also gave an honorary degree to Notre Dame President, Fr. John Jenkins, whose invitation to Barack Obama for last year’s Notre Dame commencement address helped to set a precedent for other Catholic colleges wishing to defy their bishops.
Beyond California, Mark Shriver, a 2002 pro-abortion Democratic candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives from Maryland was the commencement speaker at the College of the Holy Cross. The Cardinal Newman Society reports that while a 2002 candidate for the House, Shriver joined the rest of the Kennedy family in their pro-abortion advocacy by stating in a Washington Post interview that, “I will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose.”
And, although new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is the lone Republican in a long list of pro-abortion Democratic commencement speakers on Catholic campuses this year, Brown’s pro-choice position most likely made him a palatable choice for commencement speaker at Boston College’s Law School.
It is ironic that the same month that Jack O’Connell, the pro-gay marriage politician was honored to give the commencement speech at St. Mary’s College, a professor of music there was being reprimanded and forced to take a diversity training course because he offended one of his students by asking those in his voice class to perform a rendition of “Old Man River.” Beth Dobkin, the Provost at St. Mary’s, has told the Contra Costa Times that the professor will undergo diversity training and had to apologize to his students for forcing them to perform such a racist song. Dobkin also said that the professor’s “future at the school is being discussed.” This, despite the fact that several other students in the class have written letters of support for the voice instructor claiming that the instructor had performed the song himself many times and wanted his students to have the opportunity to do so also.
But, in the upside down world of Catholic higher education, Catholic students and their families are not allowed to be offended when a pro-gay marriage proponent who has directly defied the authority of the bishop is honored. Only certain groups—including gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals, and racial minorities—are allowed to be offended. Catholics are never afforded such protected status.
By: Anne Hendershott
Once he finished helping to elect President Obama by claiming that John McCain had done things that had “made politics dishonorable,” Jim Wallis began work immediately to help push the Democratic agenda through his writings, his blog, and his willingness to team with anyone who would help destroy Republican opposition to the Obama plan for health care, immigration, and finance reform.
Most recently, Wallis appeared on the Chris Matthews Show to talk about how those who oppose Barack Obama’s plans for the country just do not understand the need to support the common good. Wallis told Matthews that Catholics should support the Obama agenda because of its concern for the common good.
The theme of “the common good” is woven throughout Wallis’ book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” And, although he often speaks of enlisting Catholics in his cause, it is clear that Wallis has little respect for the Catholic Church itself when he writes on the opening pages of his book that he is leading a movement that will “Take Back Our Faith” and then lists a number of those who have hijacked the faith: “from pedophile priests and cover up bishops who destroy lives and shame the Church.”
The choice to employ the theme of “the common good” is no coincidence. The fake Catholic group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (funded by George Soros and a host of anti-Catholic, pro-choice proponents) has partnered with Wallis several times in the past. Most recently, in the health care debates, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good teamed with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Catholic Campaign funded Pacific Institute for Community Organizations to provide Catholic congregations with a “Health Care Tool Kit.” While the kit’s brochure never denied that the proposed health care reform would fund elective abortions with public money, it stated rather neutrally: “How Congress applies current policy on federal funding for abortion to new systems created through health reform will be an important issue for the faith community.” It also reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was ever promised.
Now Wallis is championing finance reform. On his blog (www.god’spolitics.com) Wallis wrote that the finance reform passed in the Senate is a “historic accomplishment,” and he encouraged its passage. Claiming the high moral ground, Wallis blogs that in the process of passing finance reform “there were principles that — from a moral and even religious viewpoint — guided our analysis of this legislation. Each of these moral principles is incorporated into the new bill.” It certainly seems like Barack Obama is now consulting with Wallis.
Disparaging those who disagree with him, most recently he has taken on Fox News commentator and host, Glenn Beck. Wallis is especially critical of Beck’s definition of “social justice” because it does not agree with his own and published a posting on his blog entitled: “Why Glenn Beck is a Danger to True Evangelical Theology.”
Wallis is powerful—but probably not nearly as powerful as he thinks he is. In an article he posted on The Huffington Post entitled “Wall Street Repent!” he likens himself to Jesus when he recalls that in his conversations with financial leaders about ethics, some of the more recalcitrant have come to him “like Nicodemus, a religious leader who came to talk to Jesus in private—at night.” This is hard to believe.
Now, Wallis has joined Nancy Pelosi in lecturing to religious leaders to admonish their parishioners–those “sitting in the pews” that they need to support the democratic agenda on key issues. Using the same talking points—and same phrases (“sitting in the pews”) Wallis has demanded on his blog that religious leaders provide “some sermons on the repentance of Wall Street, some pastoral care for the financial giants who sit in our pews, and some prayer vigils outside the nation’s biggest banks.”
Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State? In the last election the Democrats were apoplectic when some of the Bishops even suggested that parishioners should look at life issues when they were voting. And, now Wallis is suggesting that parishioners should be holding prayer vigils outside banks and demanding financial reform?
It is difficult to know what Jesus would do about all of this – but it is hard to imagine that Jesus would be joining Wallis in supporting the pro-abortion policies this President continues to expand. Besides, it seems that Wallis is beginning to think he is Jesus himself…Maybe there really is a reason to keep politics out of our Churches.