Michael Sean Winters has scored a copy of a letter from USCCB president Timothy Dolan to his fellow bishops on the latest disturbing statistics on poverty in the U.S., and MSW can be forgiven for putting the best possible interpretation on it; to wit:
It is heartening to see the USCCB recognize that the Church’s stance on
poverty is every bit as critical as its stance on other issues. And, it
is very encouraging to see Archbishop Dolan writing with such passion
about this issue.
Personally, I’d find it more heartening if the good archbishop had focused attention more clearly towards the federal government. Instead of which, we get this:
These economic failures have fundamental institutional and systemic
elements that have either been ignored or made worse by political and
economic behaviors, which have undermined trust and confidence.
However, this is not time to make excuses or place blame. It is a time
for everyone to accept their own personal and institutional
responsibility to help create jobs and to overcome poverty, each in
accord with their own abilities and opportunities. Individuals and
families, faith-based and community groups, businesses and labor,
government at every level, all must work together and find effective
ways to promote the common good in national and economic life.
Whose “political and economic behaviors” is he referring to–his parishioners on Wall Street maybe? And why not place some blame? Mightn’t it be a useful exercise to fix a little responsibility here? Then there’s:
Our Conference will continue to urge our leaders to assist and protect
the poor and jobless as they seek to promote economic growth and fiscal
Why not something like: “Assisting and protecting the least among us must be the government’s first priority. Declining to do so in the name of fiscal responsibility, as some of our political leaders are doing, is unconscionable.” Twenty-five years ago, the American bishops rolled this way. No more.