A New York lawyer, Paul Francis Linn, pens a meaty response to anti-Boehner&Paul Ryan scholars who say B&R violate RC principles with their economizing. He writes in comment to The Hill’s piece on Archbp Dolan of NYC’s commending B. on showing due respect for RC principles.
Dolan, pres. of U.S. bishops’ conference, had written B. and R. before the scholars chastised them for their economizing; so he was not responding to the scholars. But he was providing cover for GOP economizers.
Here’s Linn on RC social teaching:
Archbishop Dolan understands and proclaims Catholic social teaching far better than the academics who wrote the open letter to Speaker Boehner.
. . . all Christians have an obligation to the poor. And few . . . do as much to serve the poor as faith commands. But have the Catholic academics who wrote the open letter to Speaker Boehner actually concluded that ones obligation . . . toward the poor is somehow satisfied by taking money from one person (through taxation or otherwise) and giving it to an anonymous poor person (or more likely by giving it to a bureaucrat in a program whose actual track record is to perpetuate poverty and the poverty industry)?
It is soft thinking . . . to confuse the obligation each has toward the poor . . . with the necessity or even the appropriateness of a particular legislative proposal to provide relief for the poor or solutions to poverty. In contrast to issues where there is a clear moral absolute, like the Church’s unwaivering [sic] prohibition on abortion, reasonable people can of course differ on whether the poor are better helped by policies that promote the right of economic initiative (to use Pope John Paul IIs words) than by bureaucratic and statist relief programs.
But in terms of the Catholic worldview, Archbishop Dolan knows, as surely the Catholic academics who wrote to the Speaker should know, that . . . Pope John Paul II strongly criticized the deficiencies of the social assistance state, the excesses of which he concluded lead to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. (Centisimus Annus, n. 35)
Despite the possibly good intentions of those with views like the open-letter-writing academics, the reality is that in this country, the development of the social assistance state and the parallel imposition of ever more restrictions on the right of economic initiative have actually coincided and, many would submit, have caused a tremendous increase in the poor, in poverty, and in the loss of human dignity.
Unlike Archbishop Dolan and Speaker Boehner, the academics confuse their politics with their religion.
Well said. Beware canonizing of legislation, beware stifling initiative, beware making matters worse. And save your indignation sometimes for worthier causes, ye academics who object to economizing measures.