Catholic Social Teaching: It’s Time to End the Misrepresentations

Imagine someone appealing to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, to justify the activities of gangs in Los Angeles. Why not?  Lord Baden-Powell wanted boys to do risky things, and what’s more dangerous than running guns or smuggling cocaine or fighting another gang in a shooting spree?  He enjoined upon the Scouts a stern code of honor and loyalty, and who is more loyal than a new recruit for the Crips?  Who is more willing to shed his blood for the honor of the gang?

Imagine someone appealing to Michelangelo to justify porn.  Why not?  Michelangelo painted nudes all over the Sistine Chapel, and Hustler and Penthouse are full of nudes.  Michelangelo endured the disgruntlement of the prudish, so that the figures in his Last Judgment were later provided with discreet veils and tunics and loincloths.  And aren’t Hustler and Penthouse stuck underneath the counter at convenience stores?  Michelangelo admired the sculpture of ancient Greece; those ancient Greeks, for their part, traded in vases depicting acts of pedophilia.  So why should a busy stockbroker in a hotel not be allowed to relax in front of a television, watching whatever delights his sophisticated tastes?

Imagine someone appealing to Florence Nightingale to justify doctor-dosed suicide.  She wanted to relieve suffering, didn’t she?  Imagine someone appealing to Saint Francis of Assisi to justify looting for fun and profit.  His heart was with the poor, no?  Imagine someone appealing to Saint Catherine of Siena to justify the modern feminist.  Why, Saint Catherine dared to rebuke cardinals and popes!

Imagine a lawyer returning his fee when he loses a case; imagine a television pundit suddenly admitting that he doesn’t know what he is talking about; imagine a Hollywood starlet speaking English; imagine the Cubs winning the World Series; imagine anything most absurd, and you have not yet approached the absurdity of those who claim that Catholic Social Teaching implies the existence of a vast welfare state, bureaucratically organized, unanswerable to the people, undermining families, rewarding lust and sloth and envy, acknowledging no virtue, providing no personal care, punishing women who take care of their children at home, whisking the same children away from parental supervision and into schools designed to separate them from their parents’ views of the world, and, for all that, keeping whole segments of the population mired in a cycle of dysfunction, moral squalor, and poverty, while purchasing their votes with money squeezed by force from their neighbors.

I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding sex and marriage is one thing, in that old-fashioned trinket box over there, while Catholic teaching regarding stewardship and our duties to the poor is another thing, on that marble pedestal over here.  I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding the Church and her authority is one thing, the embarrassing Latinate red-edged tome tucked away in that closet, while Catholic teaching regarding the laity is another, and pass that bread this way!  No, it is all of a piece.  What the Church says about divorce is inextricable from what she says about the poor.  What she says about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is inextricable from what she says about the respects in which all men are created equal—and the many respects in which she insists upon a salutary inequality.  When we fail to see the integrity of the faith, not only do certain truths escape our notice; the rest, the truths we think we see, grow monstrous, like cancers, and work to destroy the flesh they once seemed to replace.

Pope Leo XIII is credited as being the founder of Catholic Social Teaching.  He would have been appalled by the credit.  He intended nothing other than to apply to current concerns what Jesus taught his apostles and what they handed down to their successors.  His thoughts prescind not from the nature of the spanking new modern state, nor from social advances sometimes more apparent than real, but from the changeless nature of man, discoverable both by reason and by humble attention to the revealed word of God.  Leo never supposed that one could devise any Social Teaching without understanding what a society is to begin with, which requires that we understand what human beings are, and why they are—for what end God made them, male and female, in His image and likeness.  Leo surveys the world from the mountaintop of the faith—not from the mercurial ingenuity of a vain scholar, or the meddlesome pride of an innovator.

In this series, I shall discuss exactly what Pope Leo XIII had to say, when the name of “socialism” first burst upon the ear, and apply it to current controversies and miseries.  His words sting like the first antiseptics, carbolic acid and iodine.  They sting, but they cleanse.  Or perhaps we should prefer to lay honey to our wounds?

Let’s begin at the beginning, with Inscrutabili (1878).  Here Leo inveighs against a radical secularism which seeks, by calumny, to bring the Church of God into odium, resulting in laws that obstruct bishops in their duties, and confiscate “property that was once the support of the Church’s ministers and of the poor.”  That confiscation detaches “public institutions, vowed to charity and benevolence, … from the wholesome control of the Church.”  Leo sees the connection between this seizure and a spreading amoralism among the young, whose education is also removed from the Church’s purview.

Note that well.  It is a gross violation of the Church’s Social Teaching, to wrest her schools from her direction.  Do you hear, Catholics of Ontario?  It is a gross violation of the Church’s Social Teaching, to demand that she cooperate in the State’s evil of the day if she is to continue to exercise charity for the poor and the orphaned.  Are you listening, Catholics of Massachusetts?  It is a gross violation of the Church’s Social Teaching, to suborn her institutions to assist the state in perverting the natural law, severing sex from marriage and snuffing out the life of the newly conceived.  Do you understand that principle, Americans first and nominal Catholics later?  The Church claims her liberty.  Deny her that liberty, and you will soon find the chains chafing your own wrists.  Begin as nominally Catholic, end as nominally free.

Don’t suppose that the Pope is merely grumbling.  He knows that one cannot build anything upon the secularist sands: “It is perfectly clear and evident, Venerable Brothers, that the very notion of a civilization is a fiction of the brain if it rest not on the abiding principles of truth and the unchanging laws of virtue and justice, and if unfeigned love knit not together the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”

Let’s pause a moment, catch our breath, and think hard about what he’s just said.  Catholics often hear that we intend to “impose our morality” upon our neighbors, and that this can’t be done in a truly free, that is to say thoroughly secular society.  Set aside the plain fact that all law imposes a moral vision, though it is seldom consistent or adequate, and it is sometimes perverse.  The fact is, morality admits no peculiar possessives.  If a morality is only mine, it isn’t morality but meaningless predilection.  Either a moral law exists, applying to everyone at all times, or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, there is no moral reason to prefer civilization to savagery; the latter can be a lot more fun.  But we won’t have that choice anyway, because we will lose civilization itself.  What we now call “civilization” and “culture,” Pope Leo calls “a fiction of the brain,” a vain idea, when the reality is gone.

That loss of morality understood as what we receive, not what we create; not what shackles us, but what sets us free to realize our human potential, implies already the loss of “unfeigned love” which should knit together “the wills of men, and gently control the interchange and the character of their mutual service.”  We must insist upon this connection.  I cannot give amoral love.  But human beings need love; they need the love that brings them deeper into the truth.

An unmarried friend of mine is with child.  That’s not good.  But the child needs love, and the mother and father need to return to a world of moral law—the real world, not the fantasy islands of hedonism.  They too need love.  That’s where the Church and the faithful Christian come in.  So we do, if we’re given half a chance!  It is calumny to say that we care only about fetuses and not about families.  But the secular state cares for neither.  The secular state is an amoral cash extractor and dispenser.  If the mother repeats the wrong, more money comes.  If she and the father try to right the wrong by marrying, they risk losing the money.  She can leave the child fatherless and, most of the day, motherless by going to work, and the state will pay.  None of this is oriented towards virtue.  Therefore none of it is really social; no more than rust is steel.

Does Catholic Social Teaching mandate such a thing?  Do architects build with rust?

Anthony Esolen


Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    We sometimes forget what resources for the relief of the poor the Church built up, during the Middle Ages. In the case of France, it has been estimated that the present value of the
    « Dîme » or tithe (taken as one-fifth of the rental value, the usual commuted value in 1789) and the feu-duties together would today amount to 256 billion Euros or $331.67 billion a year. That is rather more than the current budget of the French state.

  • Bedarz Iliaci

    “impose our morality” is not entirely inane. As Dorothy Sayers explains in The Mind of the Maker, there are two senses of “morality”

    a) The unchanging law of human nature
    b) A moral code that is a product of both custom and deliberate intention.
    So it is in the sense (b) the term “impose our morality” may be validly used.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      For Catholicism b) doesn’t exist. Our entire moral code is from revelation and observation, and thus comes from a).

      • SteveW

        b) certainly exists, a Catholics find it immoral for a lawyer to act against his board’s code of conduct, even if the elements of that code do not find correlating elements in the natural law (either for or against it).

        • TheodoreSeeber

          But isn’t that ultimately a part of a) from the observed moral rule “It is better to follow the civil law, as long as it does not contravene natural law, for the good of the community”? Which of course, is just the modern form of the revealed law “Do what the high priest tells you, for he sits on the seat of Moses and God has placed him in authority over you, but do not do as he does for he is a hypocrite”?

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    We will all begin believing that the bishops in the USA are serious about protecting the faith of the Catholic Church when they require everyone who works for the Church to sign a document like Bishop Vasa’s “Affirmation of Personal Faith.” If employess cannot, they have no business working for the Catholic Church because they will necessarily be working AGAINST Christ and His Church. It’s one or the other, my friends. (For those of you unfamiliar with the document, Bishop Vasa had lay ministers in the Church sign it when he was Bishop of Bend Oregon. You ought to read it. It is a gem of ecclesial theology and also a necessary step to getting Christ’s Church back in order. It is available on-line.)
    And if the bishops are really serious they will begin with EVERYONE who works for the USCCB, inclusing CCHD and Catholic Relief Services. Then you can ask all religious sisters to sign the statement and all others who work for the Church at the parish and diocesan levels. And then require all who want to use the name “Catholic” for their organization to also have their employees sign it.
    Oh, you say, “We cannot expect those who are employed by the Catholic Church and Her agents to adhere to what the Church teaches about matters of faith and morals.” Why not? Christ said “Either you are with me or against me.” In this case, I’m for CHOICE!

    • Maria

      I love the spirit behind your idea, but the skeptical side of me says that the really unscrupulous people (the ones that you would most want to screen out) would not be stopped by a little thing like signing a statement of faith. I think they would just sign whatever they had to to get the job, and then do whatever undermining thing they wanted once they were in. Its a nice idea but I think the solution is not as simple as that.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Yes, what you say is true. Some people will lie and deceive just to acheive their own goals.
        But could you imagine the USA fighting WW II and not caring whether the soldiers sent into battle: a) understood what the military objective was; b) understood the constitutional principles by which the US is governed and c) swore an oath of loyalty to the US?
        Now take the Catholic Church. Her bishops might be alikened to generals. How well have they explained to all who are employed in the Church what the Church’s mission is (I would suggest that it is ‘to evangelize the world’)? Are they certain that all employees know and adhere to the Catechism (our constitution)? How certain are the bishops that those who work for the Church are loyal to Her teachings and Gospel mandate? If anyone replies that employees are irrelevant to the mission of the Church, I would say that their positions ought to be eliminated immediately.
        If the State would be concerned about where those fighting to defend the country stood on the essentials, ought not the Church be at least as concerned since we are fighting for the Kingdom of God? Employees of the Church do NOT hold jobs; they are (or should be) missioned for service to Christ and His Church.

        • Maria

          The analogy of Bishops to generals is great! All Catholics are Christian soldiers, who swore their loyalty oaths at Baptism (c), were catechized to understand objectives and principles (a) and (b), and were commissioned into the spiritual battle at Confirmation. The difficulty comes in when it’s time for discerning which of those soldiers is actually loyal to (a), (b), and (c) in practice, and thus fit for employment in positions of responsibility at Catholic institutions. I think a screening process that consists simply of asking applicants to affirm the Faith with a signature on a piece of paper is a poor tool for that discernment. Things like character references from trustworthy persons who know the applicant well are a much better tool, in my opinion, though even that should be used in combination with other strategies.

    • mikehorn

      If that were the case, the institution requiring those pledges would need to be funded entirely by Catholic sources. Since most Catholic schools, universities, and hospitals receive a large amount of their funding from either government or corporate sources, they must consider the laws regarding fairness in employment. The Church cannot afford to have all its institutions lose their funding because the Church simply doesn’t have the money to operate. They are losing parish churches, for instance. The Church was a big lobbyist for the “faith based” initiatives, but now you see the danger of religion entangling itself with secular government.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        I couldn’t agree more. That’s why when I was my diocese’s Director of Catholic Charities,I refused to get involved with receiving any funds at all from the government. It meant that we were necessarily smaller than most Catholic Charities but I could sleep at night knowing that we had not sold out on the Church’s mission in order to win a contract. I was consoled when I thought about Christ’s operating budget when He first instituted the Church = $0 but infinite grace.

      • Aaron

        Not entirely true. The issue isn’t necessarily funding, but how the institution is organized. In many states, Catholic schools are considered extensions of the bishops. There have been well publicized cases in the US of teachers in Catholic schools who have been let go because they publicly disclosed lifestyles that contradicted the teachings of the Church. In PA, a Catholic school is judged under the laws of the diocese (not public school law), provided it is operating in compliance with diocesan directives…regardless of funding.

        • Proteios1

          Good point Aaron, but the tides are shifting. Now homosexuals, for example, are sueing for even minor “choices” by proprietors. Examples include, denying a lesbian couple lodging at a private B&B, not providing a reception hall for two gay people, and not making a “wedding” cake for a gay couple. These are private people choosing not to serve people for their own reasons. No lawsuit for the priest who went to the barber and told to gtfo. Many more examples of Christians being screamed at for our faith and gays successfully suing for being denied service by private companies…except Chik filet…ironically. So the point is, when relying on government, we are susceptible to governments ebb and flow. I think separating ourselves into a smaller more faithful and devoted group would be better, but that isn’t our history. We take the risk, to evangelize to the world. WE walk into the fire to save others from it.

      • jagnote

        If the Church’s charitable works cannot be funded only by Catholic sources, then they should be not be done. Somehow we have come to confuse love of our fellow men with huge ungainly bureaucracies that are nothing more than social service organizations chasing the holy (and totally impossible) grail of eliminating poverty. Where in the scriptures did Christ say to join forces with governments to establish multimillion dollar agencies that would demand that we compromise our doctrines to serve the “poor”. The truest example I have seen of loving your neighbor and caring for the “poor” was a New York policeman buying a pair of shoes and socks for a homeless man on a freezing side walk in New York. That was one person offering charity to another. It required no test of orthodoxy and no library of documents to be supplied to the civil government.

      • rsmyth75

        In principle i couldn’t agree more and as a church we should move away from any direct funding but for the sake of this debate it is good to remember that alot of the money recieved comes in the form of payments from the gov programs like medicade, medicare, welfare, food stamps, ssi,ssd, pell grants and student loans, etc. that are part of the social contract we as citizens have with our gov. and have nothing to do with the intitution, religious or secular! I only mention it because until this was pointed out to me, in my mind i did not clearly differenciate between the two. Just saying!

    • I started working for the local diocesan bookstore while I was a Buddhist. And that job played a huge part in my conversion. If you had been the boss and had put your proposed policy in place, I’d probably still be Buddhist. Thank God you were not my boss and a policy like yours did not bar me from a job that changed my life and brought me to Christ.

      • b.

        Not buying what you’re selling.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Oh, dear disciple, I am filled with joy with your conversion to Christ. But, now as his disciple, you should understand that Christianity is not a private affair but a call to mission. It means that those who work for the Church are missioned to proclaim the Gospel. The people at that diocesan-operated bookstore were not running a business. They should see what they do as a calling…a calling to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This, my friend, cannot be done (giving witness to Christ) until you have acknowledge your sin and accepted Christ as your redeemer. This is the keryma that we proclaim in all that we do in the name of the Church. But, let’s not underplay the hand of God in all this…He put you where you could hear the Word and receive Him into your heart.

  • lifeknight

    An “Affirmation of Personal Faith” is required at most Protestant Evangelical schools. They do not seem to be upset to proclaim their faith in Christ. However, “Catholic” colleges not only refuse to take an oath to the Magisterium, they continue to entertain such speakers as Professor Singer (euthanize infants, kill Terri Schiavo). Is it any wonder when the bishops are set to canonize Dorothy Day and have a few laughs at dinner with Mr. Obama?

    • Ford Oxaal

      If Dorothy Day is canonized, you can be assured she is a Saint, all politics aside.

      • DaveP.

        Men have been canonized for the wrong reasons before, and will be again. Saints have been removed from the canon before and will be again. Only God is infallible.

        • Ford Oxaal

          The pope is promised Divine assistance under limited circumstances. *If* you are a Catholic, and *if* the pope were to impose the formal canonization of Dorothy Day, you would be obligated to pay her honor and humble reverence.

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  • Briana

    THANK YOU! Now tell us how you really feel. 😉 Just kidding. In all seriousness, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  • “None of this is oriented towards virtue. Therefore none of it is really social; no more than rust is steel.”

    What is the point of this last little vignette? After many paragraphs of decrying society in unambiguous terms, the last paragraph is hidden in abstract occlusion. Please clarify what is meant here.

    From what I can read, an unmarried friend is having a child. The child needs love. This is a nice thought and quite true. Then, a dodgy few sentences that seem to suggest that what society, and in specific terms the government, does is wrong. Society and the state are certainly not perfect, but what is the better alternative here? What do you suggest? Do we force the mother and father to live together without love leading to a child to witness the opposite of a marriage yet call it a marriage? Do we take the mother from the child and put it in an orphanage? Do we refuse to help the mother and father because of their poor decisions and let the child grow up in hunger and poverty?

    The child needs love. This is right and good. The child also needs food, shelter, health care and an education. The mother, possibly the father, God, and people of goodwill will provide the first of these things. Who will provide the rest of these things? It’s all well and good to denounce the evil in the world. On this we can agree. What are your propositions for building up the good? I hope to see these ideas in the subsequent parts of this series. Unfortunately, judging from the tone of this article, I expect to see more outrage at immoral society and little on specifics for a better way.

    • The “government” has no money but what it takes from people. Who needs to love the people in need? We do. I am not implying that I myself have been wonderful about this. We have all “learned” to expect the government to take care of it — because personal involvement is too messy. Well, we need to unlearn that, fast. The government’s war on poverty has destroyed the family in poor and now in working class neighborhoods. The only “way” is the way of personal love, which must involve duties and responsibilities both on the part of the giver and on the part of the receiver. Please also remember that the expectation of government assistance is itself a corrupter. It is demonstrably untrue that people before the twin cannons of the Pill and Johnson’s Great Society conceived children out of wedlock as frequently as we do now — not by a long shot. The law is a teacher — and these laws teach vice.

      • Linda

        Private charity wasn’t enough for children working 12 hour days, six days a week during the Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t enough for the Irish who starved to death during the Potato Famine. It isn’t helping the millions of people without health insurance today. Unrestrained capitalism is not sustainable. Communist dictatorships are not sustainable. Democracies that help the most vulnerable and ensure every child healthcare, education, and decent living conditions are fair and reasonable manifestations of social justice. We decide collectively what sort of society we want to live in. By providing universal healthcare, we’re moving in the right direction.

        • Ford Oxaal

          But if the government is going to step in, shouldn’t it do so in a way that promotes families? Surely the current course has been a disaster for families, and thus for the future of our society.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          Sheer inanity. With all the hundreds of billions of dollars spend on all kinds of government programs, you could give every person below the poverty line a grant award of one million dollars. With this money invested, they can more than afford housing, food and medical insurance. We’d all be better off. The most of the government workers can then go out and get real jobs that would help create the capital needed to provide said grants to the poor. Again, you are part of the problem in this country that refuses to admit that government exists FOR ITSELF – it is an industry larger and greedier than any capitalist corporation and has NO ONE TO WHOM IT IS ACCOUNTABLE.

        • DontMakeMeComeDownThere

          “It isn’t helping the millions of people without health insurance today.”
          -Yes, it is. Have you not heard of Catholic hospitals?

          “Unrestrained capitalism is not sustainable.”
          -Please show where anyone is proposing this. Then you will earn a reply.

          “Democracies that help the most vulnerable and ensure every child
          healthcare, education, and decent living conditions are fair and
          reasonable manifestations of social justice.”

          -OK, but how this happens matters a great deal. Democracies should kill the most vulnerable in the womb, should not waste billions on crony socialism while barely providing promised benefits to citizens, and should not economic policies do the exact opposite of providing “decent living conditions” for millions of Americans who have to go on government assistance because business are shutting down.

          “By providing universal healthcare, we’re moving in the right direction.”
          -This is an argument from sentiment that ignores the content of the law that was actually passed, and which actually shovels billions to abortion providers, forces Catholic entities to do things that they cannot in good conscience do, and lays the groundwork for a massive euthanasia program.

      • The stuff you say about the “effects” of the welfare state are nothing but tired, LONG-DEBUNKED propaganda, dude. Get real… Communities in places like “the inner city” had PROBLEMS LONG BEFORE THE WAR ON POVERTY CAME INTO BEING. The idea that THE US GOV’T SIMPLY GIVING OUT SOME MEASLY BENEFITS (perhaps the least-generous welfare state in the world) to folks (most WITH STRICT CONDITIONS, otherwise known as “Means-tested) who are poor and/or needy somehow “ruined the family” is the most ridiculous thing I’ve EVER HEARD!

        ANY FAMILY that allows itself to be BROKEN UP by a measly check or benefit from the gov’t PROBABLY WASN’T GOING TO SURVIVE FOR LONG ANYWAY. You’re just scapegoating the government programs instead of LOOKING DEEPER INTO THE ISSUES! Of course, I’m not saying these programs are PERFECT, but I think they get WAY TOO MUCH of a bad rap from conservatives, esp. those WHO’VE PROBABLY NEVER EVEN A SINGLE EMPIRICAL STUDY ON THE ACTUAL EFFECTS OF SAID PROGRAMS!

        Somewhere in there, I think you start implying the whole “dependency” argument regarding welfare. Of course, that’s total bull… I mean, ACTUAL benefits are NOT THAT GENEROUS HERE! For example, for 1 person, food stamps only gives $200/month. That may be “a little too much” for some folks and in some lower-income areas, but it’s hardly “generous” or “wealthy.” Unemployment insurance is SIMILARLY ungenerous, esp. if the FORMER JOB you had that you were laid off from DIDN’T PAY THAT WELL IN THE FIRST PLACE! In fact, the MOST GENEROUS safety net programs, ironically, tend to be ones that ACTUALLY ALSO GIVE A GOOD AMOUNT OF AID TO UPPER- MIDDLE CLASS AND WEALTHY FOLKS in addition to the poor and working class (not as means-tested), which include SS and Medicare, as well as student loans. All in all, there’s simply NO F’ING WAY that a person can “live high on the hog” in a GOOD APARTMENT with a pricy car and other luxuries and just sit on his butt for very long on these programs! He’d probably get CUT OFF soon if he pulled that.

        You guys on the Right seem to assume A LOT OF NONSENSE about the welfare state. But WHERE are you hearing this crap?? WHO is telling you this in the first place? Why are these baseless rumors spread so often?? Maybe if you actually MET SOME POOR PEOPLE AND/OR FOLKS ON THESE PROGRAMS, you’d start to think twice about INSULTING them all like this?? Cuz that’s what you’re doing… by implying that, “Welfare destroys families and makes everyone dependent on gov’t aid.”

        If ANYTHING destroyed the working class, it’s THE FLIGHT OF CAPITAL due to the global economy (or so they say) FROM SMALLER TOWNS LIKE YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (specifically in manufacturing and textiles), which DESTROYED THOUSANDS OF JOBS PER AREA, resulting in SEVERAL MILLIONS OF MANUFACTURING JOBS BEING LOST IN ONLY 1 OR 2 DECADES. I mean, an area that DOESN’T HAVE THAT MANY CITIZENS TO BEGIN WITH and whose largest or 2nd-largest employer EMPLOYS A LARGE FRACTION OF THE ELIGIBLE WORKERS THERE suddenly LOSING ITS MANUFACTURING BASE cannot survive long. The loss of THOSE GOOD JOBS did much more to destroy the communities than any welfare program, for christ sake.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          Your problem: you are simply not paying enough taxes. Now calm down, take out your checkbook, and write out a big fat check to fund the government you so love. Put your money where your mouth is.

        • Ford Oxaal

          The people with the greatest risk of poverty are girls between 15 and 17
          because they get pregnant without first ensuring they have a marriage
          contract in hand, which would at least give them some leverage toward
          compelling the alley cat dad to make child support payments after the
          inevitable divorce. There’s the issue — sexual immorality. Clearly the
          government should promote virginity even more stridently than it
          promotes abstinence from cigarettes. But instead, it throws gas on the
          fire: cash.

        • Ford Oxaal

          If the government were on the right track toward fixing these issues, we would have seen some results. What we see instead is the destruction of the family. As far as exporting our economy to cheap labor overseas, I doubt there is much disagreement there. We were much better off as a closed economy. And then the energy shortage came in the Carter years, and it has been downhill from there. What is objectionable is the government promotion of the immorality industry through thick and thin, which is massively destructive. On minimum wage — the only people that helps are rich college kids looking for summer jobs. The minimum wage is the death knell for the least among us.

        • John200

          Get a mirror. See if you can find yourself. You are very much in the dark, and to be pitied.

        • Brandon, you are absolutely right except that next time you shouldn’t use four letter words in an otherways good argumentation because that lowers its crediblity.

          “Global economy” means the WTO. American big entrepreneurs invest their money in China where they make cheap products. They sell them in America (no protecting customs that would make them more expensive and protect American industry – because of the WTO). The super rich and the Chinese government have the bulk of the profit. What America has: cheap goods, government deficit and unemployment. And unemployemnt has devastating consequences on the morals and minds of many of the poor.

          Also the relatively low taxes on the American super rich (once 90%, currently under 40%) mean a lack of financial sources for the government – and that means the lack of new jobs the government could create from plus sources otherways. The plus money goes mainly on the stock market where it helps to grow the biggest and worst global financial bubble of the world’s history. And I think that most of the false “moral lessons” based on bluffs and lies rather than on facts are to hide these few simple things from most Christians and not the least from most Catholics.

          A new party is needed instead of Republicans and Democrats, one that is pro-life and pro-family and also pro-worker and pro-welfare state.

    • Ford Oxaal

      I think what is meant by the quote is that the state should not promote the destruction of virtue, but rather, should promote virtue. In the case of a woman conceiving children out of wedlock, e.g., she should not have to face monetary punishment for getting married — nor should someone who is unemployed be punished for getting part time work.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      “Do we force the mother and father to live together without love leading to a child to witness the opposite of a marriage yet call it a marriage?”

      For 10,000 years marriage wasn’t connected to love at all; it was solely about creating the property needed to care for children.

      Only since 1700 has marriage been connected to “love”, and with it, we get gay marriage.

      Love is a component of marriage that makes it successful, but love can be learned. Several generations of planned marriages and cultures that had arranged marriages where the spouses didn’t even meet until the wedding prove that love is a *result* of marriage, not the marriage itself.

      • b.

        “Do we force the mother and father to live together without love leading to a child to witness the opposite of a marriage yet call it a marriage?”

        For 10,000 years marriage wasn’t connected to love at all; it was solely about creating the property needed to care for children.

        We’re such an affluent society that…

        the most hardened Social Justice warriors for greater government provision of food for the poor,

        have lost sight of the fact that it was in our collective interest to keep one man faithful to one woman to be able to feed one child.

        The one man and the one woman? They are the obvious choice for who to feed the one child.

        Not government. Why is that so hard to understand?

        Live together without love? Maybe. Because the very first point was to live together with food.

        Doesn’t food = love?

  • Cynthia

    I liked your article but just want to point out that honey is sterile (due to its viscosity) and might not be a terrible salve for wounds.

    • LizEst

      Actually, honey is used in medicine to heal open sores. There is a special honey marketed as Medi-honey that is very, very effective. Thanks for pointing this out. No doubt the author was unaware of this.

      • Margie

        He is also unaware that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • John

    Unfortunately logic in this piece gets garbled in all the sound and fury. Just as Catholics should not minimize the importance of sexual morality, we should also not minimize the importance of social justice. I have no problem with moral laws being immutable, but in a nation with over 300 million people there are going to be differences of opinion as to what the moral law really is, how it should be implemented, and what should be done in those complex areas where several principles appear to be in conflict. There are situations in which the state and the Church need to respect the privacy of the individual to make choices, and situations that allow Catholic teaching to express itself in public policy. The article offers many cynical pronouncements but no effort is made to offer solutions or to celebrate and fortify the good and the beautiful.

    • Somebody is giving your friend arsenic, and it’s starting to upset his stomach. You shout, “Stop giving that man arsenic!” Is it really required that you conceive a whole alternative diet, before you stop poisoning somebody? What the government does now to encourage out-of-wedlock births and family breakup is poison. And when people say that Catholic Social Teaching mandates the poison, somebody has to call them out.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        It is required if the state has already removed all the other food sources thanks to land speculation and destruction of natural hunting and gathering rights, and the rich industrialist next door is saying that it is his private property right to pollute the only allowable food sources with arsenic.

        Which, as I’d point out, Pope Leo XIII made quite plain in Rerum Novarum and Liberitas, the two anti-socialistic screeds that libertarian capitalists also wish had never been written.

      • John

        If you’re screaming “Stop giving that man arsenic!” and the man is receiving health care for himself and his children — bear in mind, this may be a man who works 60 hour a week and still can’t afford health insurance — you will be dismissed as a lunatic. Out-of-wedlock births have more to do with social trends than governmental ones. You really need to stop obsessing over other peoples’ sex lives. They are none of your or the government’s business. If you truly want to see abortion rates and rates of unintended pregnancies go down, support no cost contraception.

        • Petrus315

          You are aptly staring right at the key issues of the article, John Mcgrath, yet without applying any of Prof. Esolen’s relevant logic. As such, I don’t blame you for mistakenly commingling problems with benefits and solutions with obsessive impositions.

          It seems that your point would be valid if the secular cuture’s view of authentic, beneficial healthcare is, in fact, accurate. However, if the “healthcare” provided to that hard working man is instead laced with moral and physical peril (as is argued by Prof. Esolen, the Church, and many healthcare professionals), then you will only be dismissed as a lunatic among a select group of individuals until the Truth wins out. Prof. Esolen in a different era might have been like a member of a team of whistle-blowers in the Roman Empire, arguing against the installation of plumbing systems because they were using lead pipes which slowly poison the population and would potentially lead to its downfall. Be careful of being the person who dismisses him out of hand simply because you think it’s categorical lunacy to say that plumbing is bad.

          You are correct that out of wedlock births have much to do with social trends, but to separate social trends from government trends is to ignore the fact that in any but the most extreme cultures, the government reflects, shapes and influences the social trends and appetites of its citizens. If murder were not illegal, there would probably be more murder. If people were given government benefits for beating their children, you can bet that more people would begin beating their children. Authentic culture in a Burkean sense cannot and should not allow a rift to exist between natural moral law and politics. Our view of one shapes the other. Politics will only ever be as good as our morals, and our moral compass will always be influenced by what our Political leaders say we should tolerate.

          Next, you make a very popular argument that the sex-lives of others is nobody’s business but theirs. But even the most staunch supporter of Roe vs. Wade’s privacy rights would not argue that laws against rape should then be constitutionally invalidated simply because “it’s not anyone else’s business”. The sex-lives of others IS the business of others when it is disordered in a way that hurts other people. Rape is not the only way to hurt someone with your sexual choices. For example, if someone lives in a sexually promiscuous fashion and then ends up receiving government benefits to help raise their child, their sexual behavior is hurting every single person who contributes to their benefit check (read: Taxpayers).

          Finally… “free birth control”. It boggles my mind that people think something is “free” just because you didn’t put money on a table when it ended up in your possession. Birth control, just like money, does not grow on trees. If someone wants free birth control so that they can have lots of “responsible” sex, someone else is ALWAYS paying for it through taxes or other means such as higher health insurance costs.

          There is only ONE kind of TRULY free birth control that I’ve heard of. Fortunately it’s also the most effective kind. Know what it is? Abstinence. The benefits of waiting until you’re married to have sex is something that used to be well understood, but has become lost in the name of false “freedom”.

          In my humble opinion, authentic social justice will only ever be achieved by teaching our society to embrace the loving TRUE freedom of a lifestyle of sex within marriage and other forms of responsible moral self-governance, Even if I’m wrong, I think the answer lies closer to that than to a social justice solution that relies on popping anti-fertility pills & rewarding immorality.

          But even if I’m right, there will always be those who dismiss the truth-speakers (innocently or not) as nothing more than screaming lunatics.

          I’ll be praying the Holy Spirit works in each one of us to provide the answers and guidance we need to live as authentic and faithful children of God.

          • Tout

            Yes, live as a child of God. I propagate prayer by praying openly at a Mary-statue downtown and hang sign “Wheter glad,sad or wary, stay a while, say a Hail Mary” and many other Catholic actions in public. Evangelize ! Openly in the streets. Regrettably many will write long letters in magazines,but would never dare to say a prayer in public, make sigh of cross before eating in a restaurant and other public acts of Faith in God. Again: receive the H.Host on tongue. God wants to come in you, not in your unblessed hand.

    • chuck

      Moral laws by definition are not open to difference of opinion. (Hence “laws”) Either you are Catholic and believe what Rome calls the Moral Law, or you stop calling yourself Catholic.

      • Nicole

        Amen, Chuck.

  • I enjoyed the bracing outrage in this piece, and I agree with your conclusions. However I do think that the poster below is right — future pieces need to be more measured. Otherwise you will only be preaching to the choir, and I would hate to see that.

  • I think you should work and live with the poor in the U.S.
    Catholic Social teaching has been one of the greatest gifts it has. You seem to be so out of touch with compassion and yet you are very harsh in your judgement of people. Examine your conscience. Begin with Matthew 25:31.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      And yet, this screed comes from the tendency of certain leftwing groups to attempt to solve poverty by killing the poor wholesale. Can you truly describe that as helping?

    • MaryAnne Walden

      Matthew 25:31 — And when the Son of man shall come in His majesty, and all the angles with Him, then shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty. How does that fit with what you’re saying?

    • DontMakeMeComeDownThere

      This is how “progressives” keep their worldview intact. They encounter criticism, level a baseless charge (that Prof. Esolen is “judging people” harshly), miss the point, throw up something vaguely biblical and walk away as if they’ve made some kind of point.

      • John200

        Only rarely does a progressive know what he just said, let alone what he meant. Think nothing of him.

        He thinks nothing of himself.

    • firstparepidemos

      Thank you so much for your comment. It is a far cry from the harsh, judgemental and un-Christ-like offerings scattered throughout this thread. It is also clear that a significant number of commentators have a truly scant understanding of socialism. Even the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ are used as insults; talk about twisting the meaning of words. Again, thank you for focussing us on the words of Christ; I am grateful that it is He who will be the judge rather than our fellow Catholics.

  • Dixibehr

    Lord Baden-Powell was a bad example. He married very late in life and liked to watch naked boys. Today he would NOT be allowed any position in the BSA.

    • Linda

      I’m not sure that’s fair. His interest in boys, especially naked boys, may not have been entirely pure, but there’s no evidence that he was a practicing pedophile.

  • Angsgar

    Even a cursory
    reading of papal teaching reveals that the Popes condemn radical socialism as
    we understand it today. The danger for many otherwise orthodox Catholics is to
    see this as somehow an endorsement of liberal capitalism. Make no mistake vast
    amounts of money have passed through groups like the Acton and Von Mises
    Institutes having been spent in an attempt to fuse the infusible. Pope John
    Paul II reaffirmed this truth when he said “It
    is unacceptable to say that the defeat of ‘Real Socialism’ leaves capitalism as
    the only mode of economic organization.” Furthermore the Popes
    have affirmed that the state is to play an active while albeit not all
    encompassing role in facilitating the common good. Also there is nothing
    inherent to other forms of socialism that make it necessarily hostile to
    traditional morals. Guild Socialism, social democrats and other obscure forms
    of socialism tended to be pro-traditional morals as they saw such morals as necessary
    to the health of the working classes, back in the days when socialists actually
    cared about workers. Whereas many capitalist philosophers were rabidly
    pro-abortion and pro-contraception (see Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises and

  • Steve Martin

    I think it is far more compassionate to teach self-reliance and freedom, the political realm, and a trust in God and what Christ Jesus has done.

    Big government just fosters dependence and and a disdain for religion.

    The Founders had it right. And we are running away from them and into the arms of a socialist European vision that will only bring about tyranny.


    • DontMakeMeComeDownThere

      Eh… careful. The Founders had some things right, and compared to the current American zeitgeist, they were very right. But their anthropology is off, more Protestant/classical liberal/libertarian than Catholic. This had repercussions in the things they assumed in creating the Declaration and the Constitution (the latter being slightly more harmonious with Catholic teaching). For example, they assumed things about Christian virtue being deeply held in people (they wrote elsewhere on this), and thus that people could use freedom for its proper end.

      Of course, all democracies have their end – it’s sad that we are well into America’s, but if we understand our faith we know that this happens and our job is still to live the faith boldly and joyfully.

      • Tout

        DONTMAKE ME And how do we live faith boldly ? I evangelize by praying at a Mary-statue downtown and hang sign “Whether glad,sad or wary, stay a while, pray a Hail Mary”. I make sign of cross before meals, also in restaurants. Always wear wooden 3 cm cross on top of my sweater. And more signs of Catholicity in public. I try to evangelize in public, rather than writing an article in some paper.

    • James

      Rubbish! The Founding Fathers were more Masonic than Christian. And don’t give me that crap about socialism coming from Europe. America is a far more messed up country in many ways than the whole of Europe put together.

      • Ford Oxaal

        Christianity made this country great, along with all of Western civilization — because it valued the welfare of the next generation more than instant gratification of one sort or another. Christ alone teaches the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity necessary for our happiness in this life and the next. Why has the country been trying to go against Love God and Love Your Neighbor? Nowadays, love your neighbor means fornicate your neighbor — even the Masons might disapprove.

    • Plenty of my view was said below, particularly by Akos, and probably too long ago for anyone to care now, but here goes…

      This article is fairly ridiculous. What exactly is the author arguing against? Just a straw-man notion that people who care about Catholic social teaching don’t care at all about truth and want the Church to become beholden to an “amoral cash extractor” state. There’s nothing substantial that one can even respond to in the article until the end, so let’s consider welfare assistance.

      Is Prof. Esolen living in the 1980s; has he never heard of welfare reform? Bill Clinton shepherded through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 with bipartisan (by today’s sorry standards) support. Welfare reform gave much flexibility to the states; strongly required work, looking for work, and job training as requirements; put in time limits and other measures to discourage “repeating the wrong”; cut any cash to unwed teen moms not living with parents; and did much to try to encourage or preserve marriage. There is hardly any encouragement for a mother not to marry the father because she will lose benefits: TANF gives more support to two-parent families than AFDC ever did.

      True, it doesn’t seem welfare reform has greatly encouraged marriage, but it’s not encouraged divorce either; people don’t make marriage choices guided by these policies. What *has* happened is that teen motherhood rates are down, abortion rates are down (the bishops had legitimately worried the rates would go up), far fewer people get cash for far less time, and there is responsibility that individuals must show to get assistance. This is all in keeping with Catholic social teaching, even though it was a tough pill for liberal Catholics and secular liberals to swallow. The fact of this, and that social-justice Catholics have pretty much come along with it, belies Prof. Esolen’s wild ravings. The state–that is, our government–is not “amoral.” Or moral or immoral, for that matter. It’s too complex for any one such adjective. What I reject is seeing it as some abstract behemoth. Sure, there is plenty of bureaucratic amoralism in it, but it’s also the representative body that is accountable to the people. To keep with the example, we the people in the 1990s wanted some kind of welfare reform with more required responsibility and more support for marriage, and we got that. Not a perfect reform, but something better. That’s not amoral.

      Unfortunately, poverty rates have not gone down, which is the ultimate goal. That’s why Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate is right–without worrying about this false bogeyman of “socialism”–to criticize both the individual immoral choices and the *structural* policies that allow unregulated capital flows to harm the global economy and ordinary people. Prof. Esolen will have a beef with every pope from Leo to Benedict if he wants to twist Catholic social teaching to seem like it has no criticism of unfettered capitalism and no role for the government in resolving major economic problems.

  • Other Joe

    Clarity! Clarity! That is exactly what is needed. Thank you.

    • Linda

      Replace that “l” with an “h” and I’d agree with you.

      • Jeannine

        Clarity IS charity!

  • JefZef

    Oh boy, was that long overdue! Professor, you are my new best friend.

  • Joe Q

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is against socialism in number 2425.

    • LizEst

      Thank you for citing the paragraph. Having read this before, I can’t tell you how long I’ve searched for the exact citation!!

  • Pingback: Using Catholic social teaching to justify a vast welfare state? That's like... - Christian Forums()

  • GAJ Chaplain

    Professor Esolen thank you for this excellent commentary. There are so many Catholic religious and clergy that have diluted Pope Leo XIII teaching on Social Justice. Thank you for the work you do by writing and teaching through Crisis Daily and at Providence College.
    GAJ RC Chaplain

  • Good article. “The secular state is an amoral cash extractor and dispenser.” It’s “amoral” AT BEST, and more likely “immoral” as cash is dispensed to buy power and control, the person is forced to become an automaton, planned collectivism replaces brotherly love, and God is kicked off the stage and replaced with the State.

  • TeaPot562

    It may seem strange, but following the Church’s teaching with respect to sex and procreation has a positive value for the endurance of our civilization. For the last several decades, the lifetime average birth rate for women 15 to 45 has fallen below replacement. To replace the adults in a culture with our current mortality rates requires roughly 2.3 live births per woman 15-45, on the average.
    One reason why Western European nations are experiencing crises in their national pension plans is low birth rates in recent decades. Greece, for example has about 46 grandchildren, on average, for every 100 persons of grandparental age. So, whether it should be blamed on young women refusing to bear children, or young men refusing to commit themselves to a young woman for decades in order to rear a family, the choices those people made when younger now adversely impact the possibility of them being able to retire. Maybe God knew (knows) what is best for us humans! Who’d have thunk it!!

    • Ford Oxaal

      Sexual immorality is cultural suicide, and we are even seeing it in the numbers, as you say. But, the immorality industry is enormous, and they have reams of lawyers, educators, and lobbyists. Immorality is unsustainable, and will eventually self-correct. Preferably we don’t have to go back to the stone age before rebuilding 🙂

  • John Mcgrath

    Of course Paul Ryan, in his worship of Ayn Rand, does not distort Catholic Social Teaching? The Republican party, in all its pro-rich pomps, is now officially part of Catholic doctrine?

    • Ford Oxaal

      Gigantic central government certainly is not part of “Catholic Social Teaching”. The Catholic principle, called subsidiarity, is that government should address issues (which are proper to it) at the most local possible level.

  • Charles

    It is breathtaking the lengths to which the American Bishops have “taken off” on partisan diatribes in the name of “Catholic Social Teaching”. We can start with “Faithful Citizenship”, that made the old red herring “vote your conscience” (codeword for “vote how you feel”) the excuse for Liberal Catholics to vote for Obama in ’08 and again in ’12. We can recall the long career of Justice and Peace staff leader John Carr, endorsing unilateral disarmament in the face of Soviet deployment of SS-20 intermediate range missiles in the early ’80’s, endorsing socialist economics in the face of the most successful economic growth period of American history beginning with President Reagan’s Administration. We can recall the repeated endorsement of abortion by causes surreptitiously supported by the Campaign for Human Development. Shall we say that our Catholic adults are in any way informed of what Catholic papal social teaching actually says, rather than believing the unending “seamless garment” diatribes coming from the USCCB? Have Pro Lifers been truly honored by the USCCB, or treated like intellectual inferiors and second class citizens by the USCCB staff? We recall the unqualified endorsement of Obamacare by the Bishops’ Pro Life Secretariat through Richard Doerflinger in the midst of the clear recognition that Obamacare was a way of endorsing Federal funding of abortion. On just the basis of at least 40 years of misinformation, is there any wonder so many Catholics voted for Obama? Is there any doubt that our American Catholic Church is now bitterly divided on ideological lines, now that Liberals have had their way for so many years?

    • Tout

      I have lost much trust in Catholic bishops. I believe more in ‘Fraternity Sacerdotale St. Peter'(FSSP) Those priests do only the Tridentine(Latin)Mass from before 1963. They provide communion-rail, give on tongue, always dressed as priest.Originaly, bishops of Germany, America, refused them as Pastors. Now, they have their own seminary in USA., and had to build a new addition to their seminary in Germany. Which other seminary has such an increase ? They again have their back to the people, as they lead their parishioners to God. Learn about the people who prayed openly in the street for almost 3 years; finally got permission from the bishop for the Latin Mass. I used to drive 40 km to a Latin Mass, have no car anymore. I give 25 c. as long as we don’t get a communion-rail to kneel; I always receive on tongue. God wants to come in me not in my unblessed hand. The Popes prefer that we receive on tongue.At one time, priests needed the bishop’s permission to give on tongue. Did any bishop give permission ? The Pope now allows every priest to give on tongue. Please receive on tongue, you honor God and evangelise to others..

  • Maria

    Where did my comment go? I replied to Deacon Ed Peitler.

  • Jeff

    Charles, could you please post a link that supports your statement that Richard Doerflinger offered an “unqualified endorsement” of the Obamacare legislation passed by Congress?

    While the USCCB has supported the principle that universal access to health care is a human right, I think the record shows that the USCCB did not support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As Cardinal George, in his capacity as USCCB president, stated on 3/23/10, “Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion.”

    I’ve scanned the USCCB’s statements on healthcare legislation and cannot find an unqualified endorsement of Obamacare by Mr. Doerflinger; though I was able to find a 4/10 piece in which he criticized the legislation.

    In this 8/10 piece, Hadley Arkes paid tribute to Mr. Doerflinger’s pro-life critique of the Obamacare legislation:

    If Mr. Doerflinger has changed his mind and offered an unqualified endorsement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, could you please post the link?

    • givelifeachance2

      Dr Arkes wrote a paean to Richard Doerflinger, USCCB staff, after Obamacare was passed, even though Doerflinger was instrumental in the behind-the-scenes manipulations to get Obamacare passed.

      Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops conference’s pro-life office, told the Washington Post that the bishops would drop their objections to the health care bill if the Stupak amendment was added and all abortion funding is removed.

      “We become enthusiastic advocates for moving forward with health care reform,” he said, if that happens.”

      The Stupak amendment itself being objectionable for its allowance for rape/incest exceptions. But the bill that would have been approved by USCCB would still have had all other noxious accoutrements of socialized medicine, including the HHS mandate.

      What Doerflinger did in November 2009 advanced Obamacare further ahead than any other force, since it gave Catholic congressmen a pass to vote for it, as long as it had the Stupak amendment.

  • withhope

    Unfortunately someone did imagine (J Lennon made a secular hymn out of it) it – ‘inspired’ by the father of lies – and figured out how to put the plan into action – that action being an, “ongoing culture war, in which political correctness – which should really be called cultural Marxism – is being used by the Left to revolutionise society by undermining and subverting its core beliefs.

    So, fundamental values embodied in issues such as immigration, national identity,
    marriage and family and many others are under systematic assault, while all who
    seek to defend them are vilified as bigots, swivel-eyed extremists and lunatics.

    This has not been achieved by any one organisation imbued with mythical and conspiratorial powers. It has occurred over decades as a result of two main factors.

    The first was the steady rise into power, across the universities, media, professions,
    political parties and civil service, of those whose opinions were shaped in the
    Sixties and Seventies by the New Left, which believed in the cultural transformation
    of society.

    The second was the demoralisation of the institutions which should have defended
    our culture – in particular, the Church and the governing class, which had become
    convinced of their own and their country’s inevitable decline.

    The result was what far-Leftists have called ‘the long march through the institutions’
    – which all fell like dominoes…”

    The above is reform – in the West the Reformation woke Moloch from a long sleep (he’s been happily feasting under the yoke of islam for centuries) and he’s been feeding his guts with the born and unborn ever since. The lank and rank piety of social reform catholicism is Moloch’s best friend.
    We’ll pray for your mother and child to be.

  • You seemed like a pretty cool guy on the Fox News interview but… wow. You really are a judgmental prick, aren’t you??

    “An unmarried friend of mine is with child. That’s not good.” Um… why? Because your backwards denomination “Says that it’s wrong to raise a child unmarried, no matter whether the ACTUAL RELATIONSHIP between the parents is good or if they’re qualified and FUNCTION WELL AS PARENTS”?? Or because it’s a single mom (if you meant “single” for “unmarried” and made a weird linguistic error there) and the kid doesn’t have a father?

    “But the child needs love, and the mother and father need to return to a
    world of moral law—the real world, not the fantasy islands of
    hedonism. They too need love.” Uh… what?? Are you IMPLYING that the child IS UNLOVED JUST B/C HIS PARENTS AREN’T MARRIED?? Come on, dude… Back up your assertions AT LEAST WITH A SOURCE OR REFERENCE, not tired old teachings from the 1800s or 1500s. Did you REALLY just imply that a person WHO IS UNMARRIED WITH A CHILD (no matter HOW MORAL the person actually is or leads his life) is “in hedonism”?? Don’t be an a**hole, dude. This is below the belt!

    Are you suggesting that things would be ALL HUNKY DORY if the couple raising the child SIMPLY WENT THROUGH SOME POINTLESS, AGED, SUPERFICIAL CEREMONY where a lot of words are said, vows are made, jewelry is given, a kiss is made, and a bunch of people have this BIG CELEBRATION? And got “official” documentation for their marriage FROM THE STATE? Maybe the couple ISN’T actually “unmarried” BUT COMMON-LAW MARRIED (at least, in their hearts and minds)?? If they live in one of those 10 or so states, THEY CAN GET MARRIED JUST BY DECLARING THEMSELVES SUCH (no need for a big ceremony or documents from the state). Betcha didn’t consider THAT, didja, ANTHONY?

    “If the mother repeats the wrong, more money comes. If she and the
    father try to right the wrong by marrying, they risk losing the money.
    She can leave the child fatherless and, most of the day, motherless by
    going to work, and the state will pay. None of this is oriented towards
    virtue. Therefore none of it is really social; no more than rust is
    steel.” I dunno what the F*CK you’re talking about with the first 2 sentences here! Name me ONE SPECIFIC PROGRAM that operates this way. It seems that all you’re doing is REPEATING VERBATIM SILLY, OLD, RIGHT-WING TALKING POINTS ABOUT THE SAFETY NET… rather than ACTUAL, EMPIRICALLY-PROVEN FACTS! Show me ONE PROGRAM in the welfare state that REDUCES OR ELIMINATES YOUR BENEFITS JUST B/C YOU GOT MARRIED OR HAVE A MAN WITH YOU!! Link me to a LIST OF RULES THAT STATE THAT CLEARLY.

    The conservative, BS propaganda about the welfare state and WHO THE TYPICAL USERS REALLY ARE just never ends…

    • Delina

      Brandon you should try to repost your comments without the use of ad hominem attack, in particular profanity. You will likely be taken more seriously that way. Really, in this way, you are only talking to yourself and everyone else just discounts your words as less than serious discourse.

    • Ford Oxaal

      The people with the greatest risk of poverty are girls between 15 and 17 because they get pregnant without first ensuring they have a marriage contract in hand, which would at least give them some leverage toward compelling the alley cat dad to make child support payments after the inevitable divorce. There’s the issue — sexual immorality. Clearly the government should promote virginity even more stridently than it promotes abstinence from cigarettes. But instead, it throws gas on the fire: cash.

      • Rollins

        People with the greatest risk to poverty are girls between 15-17 because of low access to birth control and emergency contreception. Now that that both types of birth control are becoming widely available for teens we should see a decline in teen pregnancies and the poverty that goes with it. The last thing we want to see are young girls 15 – 17 yrs old getting pregnant or married.

        Young girls need to grow up, go to college and/or leave the nest in order to find out who they are before being able to commit to life altering changes. I wouldn’t recommend my children have babies or get married prior to the age of 25. The human brain doesn’t mature until then, the frontal lobes required for good decision making are not fully developed. Most young girls would not choose the same type of husband at 18 as they would at 25.

        Once girls grow up and their brains fully mature, they make better decisions and understand the impact of those decisions. I don’t think divorce rates would be nearly as high if young girls waited until they were older to get married. However, some cultures push them into early marriage and the time they mature they realize they made a mistake and get a divorce.

        • Ford Oxaal

          Or it could be they have low access to moral teaching. Why would we want to turn the flowers of our culture into harlots, as you suggest? Would this make better wives and mothers for the next generation. Shouldn’t we try to preserve innocence? Think back to the first time you had a broken heart and try to remember the desolation of a universe without love. Anybody who has ever loved has a duty to preserve that potential in society, and not give in to numbness. By reducing young girls to biological playthings through rampant promotion of birth control builds a callous, loveless culture, not to mention what it does to trample on the exquisite beauty of youth.

          • John200

            Not so long ago, reducing “young girls to biological playthings…” meant reducing them to pigs; I used that word and many others used it, too.

            We did not have in mind “the exquisite beauty of youth.”

    • John200

      Liberal propaganda about the failed welfare states just never ends…

      Do you see? I do not need CAPS and I do not need to SHOUT because I am telling the truth. Nor do I need the word “f*ck.” Shame on you. Ask your mommy to wash your mouth out with soap. It will do you good.

      You are in way over your head, but we will do you some good. You need some education, maybe years of it.


    Professor Esolen, a question: church attendance was much higher in the year 1960 than it is today, yes? And families were stronger: lower divorce rates, much lower incidence of out of wedlock marriage? The culture was much less vile and sexualized. A simpler, kinder time when people took care of themselves and their families. The economy was better. Our middle class was the marvel of the world. All good. Not perfect (segregation, the beginning of Viet Nam, etc.) but compared to today? Marvelous.
    And still, at that time when America was a much more Christian nation, poverty was absolutely rampant, especially for minority groups (I am thinking specifically of African Americans). What makes you think that, if the modern welfare state is disassembled, people nowadays–divorced, underemployed, not going to church–will suddenly become more charitable than those who lived in 1960? If charity is the answer…why wasn’t charity sufficient fifty years ago, when America was more socially, economically, and–dare I say it, morally–stronger? Look at our population today. What makes you think people would become more charitable than were, say, my grandparent’s generation, the “Greatest Generation”?
    You can advocate for ending (or reducing) government social programs at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level. That’s a fair and debatable proposition. My question is, who is it that is going to pick up the slack? Where will all of this charity and love come from, if those who came before us had more money, more stability, more Jesus…and were not up to the task?

    • mikehorn

      Given how minorities were treated in 1960, as well as the poor, there is no claim to moral superiority in the past. Average wealth is higher now (with the last ten years when it dropped duly noted), literacy rates are higher, educational achievement is more widespread, science and engineering innovation have grown by leaps and bounds, medicine is both worlds better and more available, especially after 2009. There is no objective measure that supports a view of moral decline. What you are left with is a subjective judgement based on narrow sectarian views of what is morally good and what is not. Catholics remain the largest denomination in the USA, at roughly 24%. That means that 76% of Americans have a different idea of what they believe. Some are radically different. Non-affiliated comes in second at 20%. Interesting, self-professed atheists number the same as those claiming Judaism. America never has, never will, and simply never can reflect the Catholic ideal on much of anything, given those numbers. America is not a Catholic nation.

      • MJCIV

        Interesting. I suggest that illegitmate births–70% for African Americans, 50% for Hispanics, somewhere just south of 40% for white women–is an objective measure of moral failure. You can look up the outcomes for the average child born in America to a single mother: the statisitics are grim. Given that illegitimacy has risen to astronomical heights in our country, I don’t find it surprising at all that the government is trying–and failing–to step into the breach created by irresponsible parents. Perhaps Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, will provide food, housing, medical care, and what ever other supports a single mom depends on when and if the government stops providing these services.
        I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.
        (and, to be clear: I am the child of a single mom. I am not attacking single mothers. I have much more vitriol for uninvolved dads. I am saying that if government support is removed, you are going to see a lot of homeless, hungry, and sick children. Professor Esolen needs to tell me how the gap between reduced government programs and the vulnerable is going to be breached before I join him in expressing my outrage over how terrible it all is).

        • mikehorn

          First off, I’d like to express my appreciation for a thoughtful reply that takes my thoughts seriously, since I fundamentally disagree with the author’s article. Often all I expect are dismissive replies, usually filled with bile. Any time someone engages in thoughtful conversation, in today’s climate, I think they should be applauded. So, thank you MJCIV.

          Illegitimate births are tied to marriage/divorce rates and neither statistic points to either moral decline or moral increase. In 1960 ending a bad marriage was difficult, and it has since become easier. Similarly, out-of-wedlock births were unacceptable and discouraged through what can only be described as “slut-shaming”. I am the product of the marriage of two Catholics, regular church-goers and parish participants. They were married for 24 years, and what I learned from them is what not to do on choosing a spouse and whether or not to continue a marriage. This union should never have happened, as it did real harm to all parties, the couple and their 6 children. Starting about 15 years into their marriage, the children were begging them to divorce. It took another 9 due to the Church’s supposedly moral teachings, and then the Church actually annulled it once that domestic disaster was presented in full daylight (yes, the Church condones divorce by another name). Being married and raising kids does not guarantee a nourishing household, and the Church pushing people to stay together at all costs does actual harm. Since America at large understands this better than the Church, divorce has become easier, and out-of-wedlock births have correspondingly increased. But the rate of marriage or single parents does not indicate necessarily whether that state of affairs is either moral or not. What we need to do better on is teaching healthy relationships, and caring for single parents and their children better, and without the “slut shaming” that also does real harm. Discouraging divorce encourages bad marriages to serve as examples to children who then go on to have bad marriages… The state we are currently in is the after-effects of breaking the bad state of affairs that existed in 1960 and working our way towards something better. For instance, divorce rates stabilized and are now creeping down, though second marriages are still the most happy and stable (ask my father, for instance). People are marrying later, which in my opinion is wiser, but that also leads to more single-mothers who made a good choice in NOT marrying the father.

          At risk statement on a Catholic site: contraception for teens and early twenties would prevent single-mothers and contribute to more stable marriages started a few years later.

          Inserting American race relations into it is a separate issue. A quick look at American history shows how truly awful Blacks have been treated. The ability of a Black man to get training or education for a good career was almost nill until very recently, generously starting in the 1970’s with Affirmative Action to get around Jim Crow and blatant racism. This created several generations of Black men without training or jobs or the ability to provide for a family, and more long-term it created a culture where young boys had no good role models to emulate. This again is just now starting to turn around with people like Bill Cosby and Barack Obama, whose impact young Black boys and men is as yet unknown. This fix might take a few generations to allow racism to continue to fade (still there, if you hadn’t noticed), and for the culture to recover.

          My bottom-line argument is that the stats you cite don’t mean what you think they mean.

          • MJCIV

            mikehorn, I appreciate your kind words. I don’t know what it is about the internet that brings out the worst in people,but I know that I am not immune. If I have said anything disrespectful in this conversation, mea culpa. It was not my intention. This is a thoughtful, and thought-provoking article. I am glad to be a part of the conversation.

            What you have provided in your last response is an anecdote (and I have no reason to doubt that it is true). But you are generalizing from the particular: you are saying, here is what happened to me and my family, therefore this is what’s happening for everyone. What I am talking about is data: reams and reams and reams of social science research that shows children do better by every measure in a home with their two married parents. Obviously there are exceptions (violence, for example) but overall, a mom and dad–even if they are imperfect, or not perfectly happy–is the Gold Standard for raising kids. The only way? Of course not. A tried and true way? Absolutley.

            When my mother was 17, she became pregant with me and had to drop out of high school. Nowadays, many high schools allow the friends of pregnant 17 year olds to hold baby showers in classrooms! I am not suggesting that a young woman who finds herself ‘in trouble’ (not a term used anymore; ask yourself why) should be shamed. I am suggesting that we have normalized a situation that, for all of human history, was considered to be an undesirable outcome for young women. That, to me, is a moral failing. We have, as the late Sen. Patricky Moniyhan said, “defined deviancy down.”

            More to the point of the Professor’s article, recent data shows that Christians in particular are giving LESS to the poor now than they have in the past. If the ‘secular state’ isn’t going to help the poor…who is?


            • Both of you are true, I think. It is true that two parent families work better in general. But it is not necessarily true that two parents who has a common biological child would make a good couple and that their child’s development would not be better without their marriage – in that particuar case – than with it. Undesirable conceptions are to be prevented by “chastity education” or at least good “marriage education” rather than by cutting aid for poor mothers. This latter might do much more harm than good, I am afraid. And the opposite is taken as proven by some of the commentators and also the author of the discussed article when it is not.

      • Ford Oxaal

        But it’s greatness is from a Christian people — love God, love you neighbor. Sacrifice for the next generation. Modern atheistic man wants everything perfect now, even at the expense of a properly formed next generation, even at the expense of the very lives of the next generation. The more America loses its Christian conscience, the more of a curse it will become on the world stage.

  • DontMakeMeComeDownThere

    Anthony Esolen for president.

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  • JPAR4

    Bravo! This very topic has been stuck in my craw for a very long time! When I speak about the injustice of supposed social justice people’s eyes roll to the back of their head. If the social justice you subscribe to has to be advertised as “social justice”, well then, you don’t know social justice from JACK!

  • babs

    unfortunately, we are trying to close the barn door after the cow got out. What the Church teaches and how she acts/reacts in the public forum are two different things. Actions speak louder than words and past actions of our leaders, lay and ordained, have not matched the teaching, so why should we expect the secular world to take anything we say or DO to mean anything. For example, funding ACORN, our own colleges gone secular, rouge priests and bishops not silenced in a speedy fashion, our primary/secondary schools following the state/nations curriculum, and very damaging is the church accepting government monies and expecting to be able to remain it’s own entity… and on and on. We have a mess on our hands and it will be Prayerful people to turn it around

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  • Neglecting to talk about the excesses of the Medici, implicitly suggesting that rebellious nuns are “the modern feminist” when realists would be more appropriate, suggesting that Leo would believe people should do the bidding of modern day robber barons (like those he stood against), conflating the socialism of Eugene V. Debs with longstanding government policy, and suggesting that Leo was against Dewey’s ideas of education for all (when he wasn’t) dim the author’s more potentially valid points. Baden Powell would have also acted to vigorously clean up modern scouting if information came out like has about it. I’m also not so sure that the author would’ve bought Leo’s ideas of not speaking against the government. We need to remember that historical figures might be a bit more complex than a polarized modern electorate.

  • jsch33

    It’s funny how you so selectively read Leo XIII’s teachings and encyclicals. In Rerum Novarum–y’know, that big one about money and such–Leo advocated for the formation of unions and demanded safe labor practices and fair wages, aspects of CST I don’t think you’re properly acknowledging. By omitting such crucial facts from your argument, ou’re theorizing that the economic doctrines of the Catholic Church are much more individualist and Randian, much more in sync with those arguing for the existence of a pure free market, than they actually are.

  • JimmySWalsh

    Wow! Brilliant article. Very nicelt said!

  • m8lsem

    Well written, though not beyond disagreement. There is also another side. That a solution is not perfect, that it creates another evil, is not a sufficient reason to permit a child to starve intellectually or nutritionally. We must always be willing to carve at the fringe of evil, attempting to reduce evil without creating a worse one.

    Too often lack of moral purity with regard to a possible step has served as an excuse for doing nothing about an existing severe evil. Poverty is evil in and of a society. Abundant riches behind locked gates of privileged communities is also an evil. Executives earning tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars is sinful in the presence of poverty elsewhere, and the shutdown of Hostess is economically evil itself, with purchasers of the company drawing millions from it and then shutting it down, causing over a thousand workers to become unemployed. The miserly conduct of what might be called an ‘investor class’ is as great a sin as the abortion caused by the poverty of the mother, as the one might be seen as a cause of the other.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Do YOU own any private property? Do you have any financial assets that you call your own? If so, I would encourage you to surrender it all immediately to the State and have them return whatever portion of it THEY think you should have.

      • John200

        Oh, you have done some of m8lsem’s research. Good job.

      • m8lsem

        Hyperbole gets you nowhere. I do recall that before I retired from the private sector that we always paid the help a higher salary than anyone else in town, and established a profit-sharing plan that included everyone right down to and including the messenger. When business prospered, everyone prospered. We didn’t say, ‘oh, we own the joint, so we’ll keep it all and make sure we bosses get millions each.’

    • John200

      God help you, you try for the lofty language of the philosopher and hit yourself in the shins.


      All lefties do this, and I am sorry I came across your scribbled ignorance.

      What to do? Perhaps you can rehab yourself by comparing investors to misers; spend a little time at this project, then come back and tell us what you learned.

  • Carl Albert

    even the term “social justice” has been co-opted by the state. true social justice cannot be abdicated by the individual and it cannot be exclusively delegated to the state. we are all commanded to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

    subsidiarity is a term most Catholics cannot comfortably define or explain. but yet, a key pillar of our social teaching. it saddens me so many look to secular political platforms and ideologies to serve our every purpose, when our faith will guide us. we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made…”. gifted and powerful beyond our own imaginations and expectations. we all have a natural desire to be empowered and encouraged, even challenged. government programs by their very nature are destroyers of property, as our author notes. I contend they are also counter to personal ambition, and are rooted in pity – not in charity. anyone who might dispute this could do well to consider what St. Augustine called libido dominandi.

    very well done, Professor.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      You certainly hit it out of the ballpark! Well said,

    • Well said! Amen!

      Another pillar of authentic Catholic social teaching is GRATUITOUSNESS – that is the exercise of free giving and free receiving. However, many Catholics and others in their pursuit of “social justice” seek to remove freedom in the interest of whatever aspect of social engineering happens to be in favor today.

      Without freedom there is no gratuitousness. Without gratuitous giving and gratuitous receiving we are simply left with coercion. When activity (even activity with the outward appearance of “charity”) is directed by force then it cannot be motivated by love (or authentic charity).

      So, Catholic “social teaching” as practiced for the most part today is not only opposed to authentic Catholic teaching but is opposed to charity – that authentic charity recognizable it its freedom and gratuitousness.

  • „What the Church says about divorce is inextricable from what she says about the poor.”

    Not true if we mean so that it is the same strict and rigid coherence as of a motor or a
    crystal. The church always bases her teaching partly on what we actually know
    about the world – so not only on the Scriptures. And this knowledge is
    changing. The Summa Theologiae was put besides the Bible in rank in the Middle
    Ages. But today we know that Saint Thomas of Aquinas wasn’t write when he based
    the beginning of human life later than conception. There was no embryology in
    that era. And not only biology developed since that time but also science in
    general. And social science not only developed since it did not exist at all
    then. It was created and developed. And the social teaching of the church is
    necessarily founded partly on the knowledge the developing social sciences
    collect about society and the human nature. And this knowledge might change.

  • Pope Leo XIII’s thoughts (in Rerum novarum) come not only „from social advances
    sometimes more apparent than real, but from the changeless nature of man,
    discoverable both by reason and by humble attention to the revealed word of

    We cannot be sure that „nature of man” is absolutely changeless (since evolution is still
    in progress) but it is much more important that we do not completely know it.
    Every year thousands of articles are published in journals of sociology,
    economy and psychology, articles full with new discoveries.

  • „The secular state is an amoral cash extractor and dispenser. If the mother
    repeats the wrong, more money comes. If she and the father try to right
    the wrong by marrying, they risk losing the money. She can leave the
    child fatherless and, most of the day, motherless by going to work, and the
    state will pay. None of this is oriented towards virtue. Therefore
    none of it is really social; no more than rust is steel.”

    He supposes that the economic pressure the lack of social support from the part of the
    state means will make the couples marry. It might be so or not and it is not
    sure that such marriages will mean a better state for those involved – the
    adult couple and their children – than if the father and the mother stayed
    independent. These mean two important suppositions, socio political and
    sociological hypotheses to be tested. He also supposes that a mother living in
    serious poverty with his children is a better state for the children than if
    they are in a state financed nursery or kindergarten and the mother earns money
    during the day. It is not necessarily true again. He does not claim these
    statements as possible opinions of his. He claims these as if he was superior
    moral authority when he writes about „wrong” and „virtue”. He pretends to be a
    Pope writing ex cathedra, instead of what he really is – a simple Catholic
    intellectual with his questionable individual opinion. He is not a teacher or
    researcher of sociology. He is a professor of „English literature” and of
    „Western civilization” (that means cultural history). No wonder he walks so
    awkwardly in the field of social sciences.

    • I think all these posts by Akos are spot on. Even a lot of posters more sympathetic to the author notice the hyperbole and unproven assertions. As one said, it hardly does the professor’s cause any good to be so unmeasured.

  • „…and you have not yet approached the absurdity of those who claim that Catholic Social
    Teaching implies the existence of a vast welfare state, bureaucratically
    organized, unanswerable to the people, undermining families, rewarding lust and
    sloth and envy, acknowledging no virtue, providing no personal care, punishing
    women who take care of their children at home, whisking the same children away
    from parental supervision and into schools designed to separate them from their
    parents’ views of the world, and, for all that, keeping whole segments of the
    population mired in a cycle of dysfunction, moral squalor, and poverty, while
    purchasing their votes with money squeezed by force from their neighbors.”

    These latter examples analyzed by me were his examples to support his pathetic
    enumeration of the „sins” of welfare state imagined by him and described in the
    paragraph quoted above. We could see that „undermining families, rewarding
    lust… punishing women who take care of their children at home,” meant only
    unproved hypotheses on his part – falsely taken by him not only as proven but
    as something he revealed with superior moral authority. And the rate of
    „poverty” is much lower in countries with a well developed welfare state like
    Sweden, than in such a rudimentary one as the United States has. He could see
    this if he checked the facts first. We could either say that he used an
    irresponsible and harmful bluff here or even that he consciously lied – but
    let’s hope it was only a stupid bluff from his part and not a conscious lie.

    I guess that by “unanswerable to the people” he means that politicians supporting the welfare state do not accept such false “arguments” he used here and so they do not answer him so that they would agree with him. And that is a silly argument, of course.
    And “purchasing their votes” supposes that the welfare state does not
    mean a morally real interest of the poor – a statement he is yet to prove
    although he falsely takes as proven – and then they do not support their real
    interests by voting to “pro-welfare-state” parties. And that is why
    they only “purchase their votes”. If we compare Sweden and the United
    States we can see that the Swedish welfare state efficiently reduces proverty –
    so then this last argument of his is not true at all.

    And “squeezed by force from their neighbors” make us think as if either taxation by the state in general or supporting the poor from its income would be immoral and illegitimate – and both are unproven by him and essentially false.

    • Ford Oxaal

      Big-corp / big-gov augments itself at the expense of whatever gets in the way.
      Two working parents are a big contributing factor to real societal poverty
      — and all to the benefit of big corporate / big government interests.
      They push the breakup of the family because it helps rule and control
      the population. “Progressives” are people who think they know what is
      good for the “masses”. I see them as pawns of evil. America used to
      stand for subsidiarity — local rule. It would do well to return to its
      roots. This whole ‘welfare’ state thing is a wolf in sheep’s clothing
      — government by materialistic statistics rather than principle.

      • Guest

        There is only one way to return this – if you ban the education of girls. But you couldn’t – we are at the end of the historical way, not at the beginning of it. In the most developed countries women and men are roughly equal in completed education (the number of classes) and in many others they are much more than halfway to this. And if women are educated it is just natural that they want to use the possibilites that come from this – so they seek employment, paid jobs. And if they work than it is their problem who will take care of their children while they are in work. Some, a few conscious homemaker intellectual women will stay at home despite the serious economic loss this means for the whole family. But most wil not stay at home. Not because “big corp / big gov” wants this but because they want this. And then it is better if their childen have a good nursery or kindergarten than if they are left home without care. And some local governments might organize such institutions but many want in lack of enough money. So subsidiarity means then that the central government has to do the job. And nurseries and kindergartens are part of the welfare state – a welfare state serving the public interest.

        • Ford Oxaal

          Ah yes, the glorious culture of the draft animal. But this is not education you are speaking of — it’s vocational training. And once the wall tilts far enough, all are compelled to work because the wages go lower. So what happens is women are forced to work, even after they discover there is more to life than looking at the four walls of a government office cubicle. The snare has been set. Not intentionally by big gov/big corp, but its just the nature of those beasts. Meanwhile, if women abandoned work instead of abandoning their children, the standard of living might increase tenfold like it did in our family. My wife quit the rat race, stayed home to nurse our first child, and in short order our family standard of living went up tenfold even though our income halved. Plus, we produce much less garbage than our neighbors who bring in twice the money because both parents work. This whole consumer/serf culture is a low culture — a debased culture. Spartan. I really think we have a better future than this. Women will eventually realize that work is a dirty four letter word — the punishment their husbands have to endure, but not them! Then we can get back to culture, socializing, conversation, happiness, joy, and a more interesting, less adolescent society. One day we might even upgrade to quality over quantity — art over cars, beauty over utilitarian.

  • It is a pity if he could make his readers think that Catholic social teaching is against a centralized welfare state at all. This is a lie, he claimed this completely falsely and he is a demagogue.

  • Subversive Thomas

    I’ve never read such an offensive and hate-filled article. This creates such an aberrant vision of Catholic social thought no one with two-brain cells to rub together could possibly accept it. There are plenty of things to critique in CST, so no need exists to create more by distorting it. As a matter of fact, the Catholic commitment to TRUTH requires accurate descriptions, not false distortions.

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  • Dave Sloan

    I read the first 10 paragraphs of this. There is no spirit of love, no spirit of Christian charity, no concern or regard for the poor. This is a case of intellectual accuracy stripped of its spirit of love to the point that it ceases to have value. If this article continues in this spirit then it can have nothing of value to add to the discussion of Catholic social teaching. Truth stripped of love is not true. My challenge, and it is a big challenge indeed, is to love those who would erect a wall between the mind and the heart. Please pray for me that I will love the Catholic intelligentsia.

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