Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On April 5th I attended a conference of mostly Catholic lay people entitled "Promoting the Common Good in Michigan" at Madonna University in Livonia. This letter is addressed primarily to my fellow attendees with copies to many others who may have an interest in how our Catholic faith and its teachings inform our participation in the political process. I will copy members of other faith communities in the mailing list as well, including several imams, and I have attached a fair amount of background reading material which I believe will be helpful to people who care about these matters.
The conference was sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (www.catholicsinalliance.org). We were asked to individually introduce ourselves and identify the organizations (if any) we represented. I stated that I was representing only myself but that my affiliations included Right to Life, St. Vincent de Paul, the Republican Party and the military-industrial complex. The last item drew a laugh, as expected, but it was not the only one that was unique at the conference. I believe I was the only Republican and the only person who named an affiliation with Right to Life, although I know others present had probably done some work in that area. Even so, it saddens me that our Church divides along these almost predictable lines in much the same way that our nation does. I am writing this letter to offer a minority view that is at odds with the vision apparently held by the majority of participants.
Perhaps I am too suspicious by nature, but there seemed to be two underlying and unstated themes to the conference: that solutions to our common concerns call for more federal government involvement (which I will try to show is not Christian) and that we should support candidates for our political offices who embrace such approaches, namely Democrats. In a profile of a book co-authored by the featured speaker, Alexia Kelly, it was stated that the book "sounds the trumpet to the tens of millions (of) U.S. Catholics and Americans who have refused to buy the notion that people of faith must subscribe to a far right political agenda." If by "far right political agenda" it is meant that we must reject for our political offices those who fail to respect life, in particular those who support prenatal live dismemberment (euphemistically known as abortion), this assertion is directly at odds with the long-term teaching of the Church. I will not cite here the numerous documents in support of this because I suspect such a recitation will largely fall on blind eyes, deaf ears, hardened hearts and closed minds. Were this not so we would not have Jennifer Granholm as governor or Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow as our U.S. senators, all of whom have compiled horrific records in office. If Catholics alone voted with as much unity as African-Americans on their perceived interests, and especially if the clear teaching of the Church were heeded, the culture of death wouldn't last one election cycle. There must be reasons for this failure of Catholics to vote with more priority and unity of purpose and I will attempt to address them. As a first step I would like to take issue with the agenda that is often seen as the alternative to what I would call the Pro-Life Agenda (PLA) rather than the "far right political agenda." Perhaps we could call the alternative the Social Services Agenda or SSA.
It is unfortunate that many conservatives (I will use the terms liberal and conservative, aware of their limitations, for lack of better terms) have given up arguing that our Constitution forbids federal involvement in many areas, including health care, education, welfare, housing and much more. If frustrates me when I see "limited" government listed as a conservative principle because I doubt anyone cares how big the government is so long as it does well what it is authorized to do and no more. It is the legitimacy of government that matters -- whether it is functioning in accordance with its charter. The SSA is outside the charter of the federal government and is a violation of the rule of law.
Someone at my table asked me if I didn't think the rich should take care of the poor. I replied (paraphrasing) that I thought they should as a matter of obeying the Lord's command to take care of the poor but that I knew of nothing in the scriptures, the teaching of the Church or the charter of any government that authorized me or anyone else to force them to do so. There is no scripture or Church teaching that commands or recommends the outsourcing of our responsibilities, rights and resources to the government to meet the needs of the poor. This mission is ours as Church and as individuals on a voluntary basis. It is our cross to bear, not something we are to force on others. Efforts to compel charity are spiritually misguided as well as unlawful. Any federal government program that lacks proper authorization under the Constitution violates the rule of law and undermines our common unifying commitment as Americans to stand up for each other's most fundamental rights. It further violates the most basic law of all: to love our neighbor as ourselves. The rich, however defined, are also our neighbors. Abiding by the rule of law -- and the scriptures call upon us to obey our nation's just laws -- is fundamentally an expression of love of neighbor.
I believe that the SSA is insidiously evil. It is morally and spiritually debilitating in that it harms the people it is intended to help (we have the whole sorry history of the welfare state to support this), harms the people it unlawfully deprives of their resources (possibly alienating them against Christianity) and harms the people orchestrating its enactment who mistakenly believe that the SSA embodies Christian charity or the promotion of the common good. It is the Robin Hood approach to helping the poor and Robin Hood was never anything more than just a thief. The Church would never counsel us to become thieves. Holding a gun to our neighbor's head to obtain his wealth would easily be seen as theft, even if done on behalf of others. Long term compulsion of his labor on behalf of others would easily be seen as slavery. But if we enlist the government to do the dirty work it is somehow viewed as legitimate. That's not what democracy is all about and it's my understanding that democracies that have allowed the majority to vote themselves more and more of what belongs to others have not survived. I don't want to see that happen to my country.
It is a false dilemma to "weigh" the SSA against the PLA. The SSA masquerades as Chistian charity while it undermines the moral and spiritual values of the American people. It carries no moral weight. Giving it any weight is actually a serious moral error. The PLA, by contrast, is a matter of fundamental justice which is inherently and uniquely a responsibility of government. Justice cannot be accomplished by individuals or private groups. The individual choice approach has resulted in the vast majority of prenatal abortion victims (there are also postnatal victims) being obscenely disproportionate collateral damage to assure the destruction of those presumably legitimate targets who pose "hard cases." When a human population can be summarily excluded from the protected community of "persons" under the law in order to rationalize and enable its destruction at any time, for any reason and by any means, to turn our eyes away from this enormous class of condemned political prisoners is morally inexcusable. There is no other class of human beings that has been so totally stripped of human dignity. This unrestricted war on the prenatal population rages on unabated, slaughtering on a daily basis in this country alone roughly the same number of human lives as the war in Iraq has cost us over a period of five years. It violates nearly every moral principle that governs warfare, including the laws of war and the Just War criteria, which are hardly pacifistic. Yet how many of those who have raised their voices and wielded their votes with respect to the war in Iraq (or other wars) have done so with respect to the forty year war on prenatal children? Why should we not consider those who have failed to protest and act to stop this immoral war at home to have forfeited all credibility with respect to any other conflict?
I have no doubt that many have believed that the SSA is a legitimate expression of Christian charity and have behaved accordingly in spite of the necessity of neglecting the PLA to do so. I wish I could say that the rejection or at least neglect of the PLA has been due to some innocent moral or intellectual deficit, but this does not appear to be the case. Unfortunately -- and I really hate to say this -- there is significant evidence to believe that the rejection of the PLA is deliberate, brazen defiance of Christ's chosen instrument, the Church, fully intended to do great damage to its teaching authority. The leadership of the Church, which has been faithful to its core principles, is old, mostly white, and, most unforgivably of all, celibately male. I suspect that this is the root of the willful and scandalous acts of sabotage against the Church leadership which are leading many into serious sin (see Matthew 18:6-7, Luke 17:1-3 and Mark 9:42). There are undoubtedly some very real causes of hurt and disappointment with the leadership, such as the denial of ordination to women, but these do not justify the kind of destructive behavior we have witnessed. Choosing to act from within the Church as a kind of fifth column, more effectively positioned to undermine its message and influence, is not the work of faithful or loyal Catholics. It is the work of the devil. I appeal to those of you who may be involved in this behavior to cease for your own good as well as the good of the Church, our people, our country and indeed, our world.
Here is a link to a short article from Wikipedia on subsidiarity. Unless I am greatly mistaken about the vision shared by most conference participants on the role of the federal government, it seems clear to me that the vision is at odds with the principle of subsidiarity. The article even cites the Tenth Amendment which I discuss in some detail in another attachment Rejecting the Satanic-"Democratic" Agenda. Advocating greater concentration of federal power while claiming allegiance to the principle of subsidiarity seems to me to be an exercise in Orwellian doublethink, the holding of two contradictory ideas in one's mind at the same time and accepting both of them (War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Concentrated Government Power is Subsidiarity!). This does not mean there is no legitimate role for the federal government. For example, states that restrict participation of insurance providers from other states in their markets could reasonably be regarded as interfering in interstate commerce which is legitimately within the power of the federal government alone to regulate.
I am also attaching to this letter two short articles Competence and Freedom by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr, MD and Subprime Immaturity by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr, MD which may provide some insight into conservative thought. I am further attaching the rather lengthy transcript of an informal talk I delivered in 1986 (yes, twenty-two years ago!) on the War on the Unborn which may be of interest to those involved in peace issues. I have never seen any other detailed treatment of abortion rites, the prenatal human sacrifices to the idols this nation now worships, in terms of principles of warfare, the laws of war and the Just War criteria. Another attachment is still a work in progress. It is in the form of an open letter to all voters on < a href="Satanic-Democratic_Agenda_3.html">rejecting what I call the Satanic-"Democratic" Agenda. It is an admittedly harsh and angry work and I may want to significantly revise and condense it before sending out printed copies to the city of Dearborn in the fall. It is intended to affect the votes of those Christians and Muslims who habitually vote Democratic so that the state of Michigan will go Republican. I gave printed copies to Alexia Kelly and one of the local organizers of the conference. I later requested feedback from the local organizer by email (Alexia's email address was not provided at the conference) but received no response. You may understand why if you read it. I have great respect and affection for my more liberal Catholic friends and my interaction with my new acquaintances at the conference was cordial. We need each other. But I want you to see the anger and distress I feel toward those I see as destroying the moral character of our people which will sooner or later cost us our free and democratic republic. I believe I have a responsibility to bring this to light and issue this warning (see Ezekiel 3:17-21).
For those who persist in seeing some kind of liberation issue or gender conflict in all this I am attaching an article on how abortion has adversely affected women. There is much more of this kind of material that can be accessed atwww.UnChoice.Info.
Your responses to this letter and its attachments would be of interest. If my time allows, especially if I can manage it before the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good convention in July, I may send out another email to address your feedback. Thank you for reading this. Please pray that the people of our country will receive the wisdom to choose the leadership we need. May God bless you.
June, 2008Comments from others with responses from Al