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Arkansas Catholic
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May 7, 1982     Arkansas Catholic
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May 7, 1982
 

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IThe00Guardiani 00-00-982 1 Rev. Jerome Kodell, O.S.B. Beyond Ideology "A'new international economic order, which, overcoming the insufficient and inadequate economic models of the past, may assure humanity of a just participation in the goods of creation." These words from Pope John Paul II opening a three-day Vatican-sponsored conference on work serve to clearly delineate the Church's role as critic of economic ideologies - capitalist, socialist, communist -- in light of Gospel teachings. The Church, the Pope stressed, should not weld itself to "false or partial systems, the materialistic or economistic ideologies," but rather call for revision of all systems ac- cording "to the criterion of the dignity of the human persons," with particular sensitivity to the plight of those in developing countries. Here, as elsewhere, the Pope is clearly calling the Catholic community beyond silence, to speak with a resolute voice in promotion of the liberating message of Christ. --MDL The Catholic Tribune Diocese of Vermont Essays in The ology Popular Theology By Father Richard p. McBrien Balance. Always balance. Without it, we fall on our faces. Take the matters of com- petence and common sense. On the one hand, we need people with expertise to help us deal with sickness, mechanical breakdowns, ignorance and so forth. On the other hand, we have to trust our own experience and our own common sense. We can't leave everything to the experts. Imagine what the world would be like if only the generals decided foreign policy and had the last word on the federal budget. And while it is true that the doctor isn't always right, anyone in his or her right mind would rather have a qualified surgeon operate on a burst appendix than the fellow next door whose medical knowledge consists of a summary of nostrums like "Starve a fever, feed a cold." Balance. The good sense of the ordinary person in the street has to be tapped in a variety of circumstances, e.g,, a jury of peers, but this never dispenses completely with the need for expertise, e.g., a qualified judge, prosecutor and defense at- torney. This is all by way of a lead- in to a brief comment on a relatively new phenomenon in U.S. Catholicism; namely, the tendency of Catholic professional people to speak out on theological matters without the requisite professional competence in theology. A Catholic Secretary of the Navy objects to the public pronouncements of U.S. Catholic bishops on nuclear disarmament, specifically to their opposition to the naming of a new submarine the "Corpus Christi." A Catholic Secretary of State, a Catholic Assistant Secretary of State and a Catholic editor and writer question the propriety (and certainly the wisdom) of similar statements from the bishops on U.S. policy in Central America. These and other .Catholic professional people wonder what such issues have to do with religion and with Catholicism, in particular. The need for balance dic- tates that their reservations be heard and respected. All knowledge and authority are not the exclusive possession of church hierarchs. Their critics may not know as much as they should about ec- clesiology and moral theology, but they are people of faith, of intelligence and of significant personal ex- perience. But they, in their turn, have to recognize what they're doing. They appear just as vulnerable to those on the other side of the competency line as the bishops appear to them. They accuse the bishops of overstepping the boundaries of competence when they pass judgments on matters of foreign policy or on strategies for peace. But these same Catholic Critics are well beyond their own depth when they begin making judgments about what is and what is not a proper subject of moral teaching and ecclesiastical initiative. Take another example, this time from the realm of law. In recent months, two prominent Catholic lawyers have delivered themselves of theological opinions about the immunity of bishops from certain forms of legal action. The lawyer for the Ar- chbishop of Chicago insisted last yeai" that his client was answerable only to God and to Rome, not to the Chicago Sun- Times. " The reference to the Chicago newspaper need not concern us here, but it is clearly not the case that the Archbishop (or any other bishop, for that matter) is answerable only to God and to Rome. A bishop is a servant of the community (diocese) over which he presides. Although appointed by the Pope, the Pope John Paul II has urged Catholics to make known their reactions to presentations by the press, radio, and television. Guardian readers may do this by mailing their com- ments to: Communications Department Diocese of Little Rock P.O. Box 7417. Little Rock. Ark. 72217 Letters will be duplicated and forwarded to networks. stations, sponsors or newspapers involved. Question: -- What is the origin of the word "Yahweh" for God? Moses is described in Exodus 3: 13-15. A. -- Yahweh is the Question: -- Can there be a distinctive name for God in Nuptial Mass for a mixed the Hebrew of the Old marriage? Testament. Its revelation to A. -- Ordinarily the marriage of a Catholic and a non-Catholic is celebrated outside Mass. but the Bishop may permit the marriage of a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian during Mass (Apostolic Letter on Mixed Marriages, January 7.1970). Budget Cuts and Human Lives Harsh Realities of Economic (Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan of Brooklyn, N.Y., recently discussed federal budget cuts before a task force of the ltouse Committee on the Budget. The first in- stallment ran in last week's Guardian. It concludes this week). One final example from the Archdiocese of St. Paul- Minneapolis. A woman there, knowing of the lack of adequate shelter for the homeless, left a stack of blankets in an unlocked car overnight. The next morning she found six adults sleeping inside, huddled together against the cold. I could go on with a long litany of examples, but the message would be the same -- the poor are paying a terrible price as a result of last year's budget cuts. I have listened carefully to the suggestion that the voluntary sector and the churches in particular can and should take up the slack caused by the budget cuts. For example, in New York recently, President Reagan said: "If every church and synagogue in the United States would average adopting 10 poor families.. .we could eliminate all bishop is immediately an- swerable to the People of God to whom he ministers. Ac- cordingly, there are indeed others besides God and the Pope who have a legitimate interest in the stewardship of a bishop and to whom the bishop is pastorally ac- countable. A second, more recent case makes the same point. Four nuns sued the Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, for an alleged violation of contract. They were ter- minated as teachers in one of the Catholic schools. The diocesan lawyer had argued: "The bishop is ap- pointed by the Pope, and once he's in there, he receives his power directly from God. Any challenge to that authority challenges the basic roots of the Church itself." One must say -- as one specialist tin theology) to another tin law) -- that the only thing under challenge is the nineteenth-century, Nee- Scholastic theology of the Roman universities which proposed such a narrow, monarchical view of ec- clesiastical authority in the first place. It is good to have Catholic lawyers, politicians and writers who feel free to ex- press their theological opinions, just as. it is good to have Catholic theologians from time to time express their opinions about the law, the political order or the media. But opinions are opinions andthey have to be sorted out. For this, we stand always in need of one another. The specialist needs to hear from the person in .the street and the person in the street has to listen to those who have spent a little more time and energy on the problem at hand. Balance. Always balance. government welfare in this country, federal, state and local." This suggestion, that private charity can increase sufficiently to make key entitlement and social programs unnecessary, ignores both reality and history. Even a preliminary examination of the dollars and resources involved makes it obvious that the voluntary sector cannot replace major government programs. If we consider only the $35 billion-S40 billion in federal cuts that were approved last year, it is clear that the gap cannot be filled either by the churches or by the entire voluntary sector. In fact, for several reasons the voluntary sector is more hard pressed now than before the cuts. A preliminary study by the Urban Institute indicated that the cuts will mean an estimated loss of more than $27 billion of federal revenue to the voluntary sector during a three-year period. In ad- dition, a similar study by the Urban Institute indicates that the tax cuts that were ap- proved will create a disin- centive to give to charitable causes, resulting in a further loss of revenue, despite the passage of the charitable contributions legislation last year. And, finally, the in- crease in demand for services and emergency assistance has been so great since the budget cuts took effect, that they threaten to overwhelm the resources of many human needs programs in the voluntary sector. I hope we can help to develop a better public un- derstanding of the enormous efforts already being made by churches in response to human needs. In my own diocese of Brooklyn, for example, 25 parishes run home-care programs for the elderly. Some 50 parishes have facilities for the care and feeding of the elderly, the retarded and the mentally ill. Although not highly visible, these efforts have been and will continue to be an im- portant part of the church's work. In the end the churches and the voluntary sector as a whole cannot be expected to fill the growing gap created by the budget cuts. While the religious community has been and will continue to serve 'those in need, our efforts should not be viewed as a basis for the government's abdication of its' own responsibility. The churches cannot by their charity be mufflers of the harsh in- justices imposed by an unresponsive government. The return of soup lines and the dramatic increase in the demands for emergency food assistance and financial aid should not be interpreted as signs of success for the "new voluntarism." They are in- stead sad symbols of a retreat by government from a fun- damental responsibility. Hole of Governuwnt This brings me to the core of the message that I would like to leave with you this mor- ning. That message has to do with basic human rights and the role of the government in guaranteeing that these rights are protected. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of social teaching on human rights. I believe it is directly relevant to the subject of entitlements before this task force. Allow me briefly to summarize that teaching. The dignity of the human person is one of the key elements in all of Catholic social teaching. Made in the image of God, the human person is endowed with a special dignity. This dignity generates obligations, which in turn point to basic human rights. These rights are universal and arise from the very nature of the human person. In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII listed some of these rights: "Every person has the right to life, to bodily integrity and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services." We believe that these rights are a kind of base line - a set of minimum conditions of material well-being which must be met if human dignity is to be protected. The Catholic Church fully recognizes the significance of classifying these basic necessities as rights. For rights are not matters of privilege or choice. Rights are functions of duties. They imply an obligation on the part of society, and ultimately this responsibility rests on the government. When, through the normal workings of the economy and the social system, the basic material needs of citizens are not met, the government has the responsibility to intervene. It has a duty to protect the fundamental rights of all by seeing to it that no one goes without adequate income, food, shelter, health care, etc. By no means does the church include all desirable material goods in the category of human rights. On the con- trary, we consider as rights only those necessities required for a basic level of human decency -- those essentials without which basic human, development and human dignity are im- possible. The harsh reality of America's present economic system is that without sub- stantial add effective government intervention, people wil go hungry; families will be homeless; mothers and children will be without basic health care. In theory one might hope that the government would not have to be the direct provider of these services; in reality, however, given the best ef- forts of the private sector, government must bear a large share of the burden. In short, the powers of govern- ment must be used in a constructive way, directly as iii I ) Father Jerome | questions from subscribers. should be Hey. Jerome O.S.B., New 72865. well as indireq guarantee a minimu$ decency Some have very notion of and have said that not entitled to Our Catholic have said, implies quite different. dignity generates obligations. These undergird true We believe that all have a right, an to the basic When these basic unmet, the the ultimate res intervene. Seen from this the cuts in programs proposed year 1983 are Particularly in food stamps, Medicaid, the cuts a denial of the needs for Americans. They are sense detrimental to dignity. They partial abandonment the most that government is perform. The enactment food stamps, other entitlement were important achievements. represented our society in roles and government. We when mothers and are dislocated economic forces control, when hungry or unel through no fault of then it was to the our society as a government to basic entitlements. more secure nation, humane society, as these government Now, in a time of See Bishop on Pg' IClenlt fOhOn No Published Weekly by The Press, Inc 2.$00 N Ty E ntered as ! 21, 1911. at the post office of Ark4nsas. under the ACl o! M4rch 8. 1891 Second cl4ss Little Rock SUBSCRIPTION pR! $7 O0 per year in Canacl4 $900 PUBLISHER MOST REV ANOREW J M Bishop of PRIE REV MR WILLIAMW, EDITOR MR. KARL A. Address All Oegortmortls P- FORREST PARK ! Telephone 61M.O 10 Business A.M. to 4 through on U National  Hol. . pestmasWr: send change # form 35"/9 to Press. P.O. I.itIle Hock,.