Sadly, as leaders of the Catholic faith capitulate to allowing the secular elites to determine the language and to define the terminology that is to be used in discussing
economic issues, they have increasingly overlooked basic Biblical teaching. The "preferential option for the poor" is a dangerous challenge to the true spirit of justice enunciated clearly in Exodus 23:3 and Leviticus 19:15.
Sadly, instead of seeking fidelity to Christ, Who alone can make us righteous through His Holy Spirit, some Church leaders seem to be attempting to counter the idea that might makes right with a new paradigm that poverty makes right. Sadly, in the area of morality, this quickly leads to a mentality that asserts, "Since I am deprived, so I have a right to be depraved."
Just witness, for example, how many social "safety net" programs over the years have been so manipulated by political expediency that they have morphed into rather comfortable hammocks, which tend to help the lame not to walk, but rather to become lazy. The "preferential option for the poor" is also dangerous, in that it promotes the perpetuation of a class envy and class warfare mentality.
This is in direct opposition to the ministry of reconciliation proclaimed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It closes the path to a sanctifying solidarity with the poor, whereby we come to recognize that poverty is not merely an economic condition. Rather, it has many dimensions.
And, in the light of the Gospel of God's gracious love, we are able to appreciate our poverty as an opportunity to become more gratefully and reverently receptive
to both receiving and sharing His material and spiritual blessings.
All this can give you an idea why I have difficulty with some of the agenda guiding the New Evangelization. For example, if Church teaching says that we should allow those who came into our country illegally to continue to disregard our immigration laws, we should be consistent enough to extend such disorganized hospitality into our Church discipline by making the whole Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process optional. We should tell people that all they do not need to follow the protocols established through the RCIA process. All they need to do is migrate on their own terms into any Catholic church and ask to be baptized or received into the Church, and we will graciously and immediately baptize or receive them into the Church on their terms.
Thus Church unity could be promoted in a more Unitarian framework.
And, if we really want to be "prophetic", we should stop requiring the recording of such baptisms and receptions in our parish sacramental records. After all, people do
allegedly have a "right" to migrate into whatever religion they want without having to go through cumbersome bureaucratic formation processes and paperwork. And
they allegedly have a "right" to privacy of conscience, which could be violated by the maintenance of such records.
In this way, we would be able to affirm an absolute autonomy and integrity of personal conscience. We could thus allow people to replace the Gospel teaching that the truth will set us free.
Spero columnist Rev. Thomas Collins is a Catholic priest in the service of the people of Virginia.
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