Things are heating up around the world with respect to problems that could be solved by applying the principles of the Just Third Way. Everywhere, from North Korea to England, we see the growth of State power and its intrusion into every aspect of life . . . and death. College students are tortured to death for stealing a piece of paper, infants are sentenced to death because the State has determined their lives can’t be saved and wouldn’t be worth living even if they could, and millions more infants are killed simply because they are inconvenient or might become so. It’s not a question of whether we need the Just Third Way, but how badly we need it:
|"Dear Sir or Madam: I am not, nor have I ever been, a socialist."|
• There has been a tremendous upswing in the number of people who seem to think that the Catholic Church has not condemned socialism, and in fact approves of it as the foundation of its social teaching. This appears to be rooted in an extremely generous interpretation put on a passage written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his election as Pope Benedict XVI. As one such enthusiast declared, “I am a socialist in the mold of Benedict XVI, who wrote that the Christian socialism of Europe was the closest thing to Catholic Social Teaching.” And the specific quote from Cardinal Ratzinger? “In England [socialism] became the political party of the Catholics, who had never felt at home among either the Protestant conservatives or the liberals. In Wilhelmine Germany, too, Catholic groups felt closer to democratic socialism than to the rigidly Prussian and Protestant conservative forces. In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.” We only need to point out that “similar to” (“in many respects was and is close to”) and “same as” are two very different things. Brass was and is similar to gold in many respects, but they are, and will always be, two very different metals. In any event, Pope Pius XI responded to this concern in §§ 111-121 of Quadragesimo Anno, which must be read in order to put Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments in context. After admitting that there was a great deal of good in so-called “democratic socialism” (which is a direct descendent of the “democratic religions” that attacked the Catholic Church in the early nineteenth century), Pius XI concluded, “Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth (§ 117). . . . If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist” (§ 120). To claim, therefore, that Catholic social teaching can be reconciled with any form of socialism is wrong.
|"Dear Sir or Madam: You can't be a Catholic and a socialist."|
• But what is the “concept of society . . . utterly foreign to Christian [or any other kind of] truth”? The idea that everything, even the natural law itself, must be changed or subordinated to the desired goal. This is the principle common to socialism, modernism, and the New Age. Since in Catholic belief God is the natural law, the natural law obviously cannot take second place to anything, even for the best of reasons.
• This past week we located an essay by Orestes Brownson (1803-1876), “La Mennais and Gregory XVI” (Brownson’s Quarterly Review, July 1859) dissecting socialism and “liberal Catholicism.” The rather lengthy piece (nearly 10,000 words) was published in 1859, and explains how “the current pope’s” (Pius IX) condemnations of “democracy” were directed to the European idea that the State or the collective, not actual people, are sovereign. Pius IX actually endorsed democracy of the American kind, having high praise for the U.S. Constitution, which declares in the Preamble that “We, the People” delegate rights to the State, NOT the other way around as in socialism.
|"Hi, Norm! Good to see you again. I hope you're not a socialist."|
• The CESJ core group met today with an official of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. The object of the meeting was to explore ways of working together to introduce understanding of the Just Third Way into discussions on Catholic social teaching, particularly in light of the problems associated with the increasing intrusion of the State into everyday life, even matters of life and death decisions, and the healthcare issue.
• Speaking of State power over life and death calls to mind the situation into which the State has put the parents of “Baby [Charlie] Gard.” The State has decided that Charlie’s parents are not permitted to try and save the life of their child because “they” have determined it can’t be done, and even if it could, the boy’s life would not be worth living. The State knows this with absolute certainty. This is, by the way, a great advance, because people used to have the naïve belief that only God is omniscient and omnipotent (that’s “all-knowing” and “all-powerful”), and now we know only the State, not God, can have the power of a god.
|"I can't Smile. I'm a socialist."|
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it. To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/. Next, sign in to your account. (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.) Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.” If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through. Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.
• We have had visitors from 30 different countries and 40 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom, India, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Democracy (and Wages) in America,” “News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 26,” “The Buyback Bamboozle,” “Whigs, Wages, and Wonder,” and “Who’d Have Thought It?”
Those are the happenings for this week, at least those that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we’ll see that it gets into the next “issue.” If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated, so we’ll see it before it goes up.#30#