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Trump’s rise and GOP economics may shift Catholic Church’s priorities

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, speaks during the Erroneous Autonomy conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler
Cardinal SeanO’Malley, center, speaks with John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, left, and President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka, right, during the Erroneous Autonomy conference in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, center, speaks with John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, left, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, right, during the Erroneous Autonomy conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler

WASHINGTON (RNS) For much of its long history in the U.S., the Catholic Church was known as the champion of the working class, a community of immigrants whose leaders were steadfast in support of organized labor and economic justice – a faith-based agenda that helped provide a path to success for its largely working-class flock.

In recent decades, as those ethnic European Catholics assimilated and grew wealthier, and as the concerns of the American hierarchy shifted to battles over moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage, traditional pocketbook issues took a back seat.

Now, however, with the surprise election of Donald Trump and the Republican sweep of Congress signaling a new era of free market and anti-immigration policies, the U.S. church and its bishops may be set to recalibrate their priorities.

The latest sign of such a shift came this week at a conference at Catholic University of America, co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO, that featured leading voices in the hierarchy and Catholic academia calling on the church to work together to confront what one bishop called “the growing imperialism of market mechanisms within American public life.”

In his keynote address, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy delivered a powerful warning about the current economic imbalances in American society. His remarks also served as a kind of prebuttal to Republican financial and budgetary plans that would, he argued, make the situation worse by undermining organized labor and privatizing basic government services for the poor and elderly.

“It cannot be said too strongly that using market mechanisms for the establishment of benefit levels in American society for our most vulnerable populations will unleash a series of silent killers in our nation that are all the more invidious because they are aimed at those without power,” McElroy said at the event on Tuesday (Jan. 10).

The conference was the third in a series on free market capitalism and church teaching organized by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at CUA; this one was titled, “Erroneous Autonomy: The Dignity of Work.”

McElroy is a vocal proponent of the comprehensive approach to social justice and moral issues that has been a hallmark of Pope Francis’ ministry. But it’s an approach that is still struggling to gain a foothold in the wider U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which remains dominated by appointees of previous popes.

In the closing address of the conference, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley — a top adviser to Francis — bookended McElroy’s remarks by extolling the church’s long alliance with organized labor, in both the public and private sectors.

O’Malley said Catholics are called to support the right of all workers “to organize and be represented in the marketplace and in negotiations by an institution, the union, which gives workers leverage and a voice” against the pressures of business owners and free market forces.

He cited the pope’s tough talk against income inequality, the rule of finance and an “economy of exclusion,” and he highlighted the need for a moral and regulatory framework to restrain “the unseen forces and invisible hand of the economy.”

In his talk, O’Malley also promoted a “living wage,” lamented stagnating incomes and the exponential growth in the pay of CEOs, called affordable health care “foundational” and warned government leaders that they had a “moral obligation” not to deprive people of health insurance.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, speaks during the Erroneous Autonomy conference in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, speaks during the Erroneous Autonomy conference in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler

In between the addresses by the cardinal and the bishop, other speakers lamented how today’s bottom-line economy harms families, contributes to degrading the environment — which also hurts the poor and working class disproportionately — and elevates consumerism to a moral good. “Is the American dream personified by the maximum pursuit of luxury?” said David Cloutier, a theologian at CUA.

“We can transform global economic life,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services, the global relief arm of the USCCB. “And our faith demands that we make that choice.”

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association and a proponent of Obamacare, also defended a government-supervised health care system: “When we let the marketplace control health care in this country, we have lost the battle.”

While the speakers recognized the benefits that market economics have brought to the world, they stressed that capitalism was not in itself a moral good and that free market dynamics had often degraded the dignity of workers. Those dynamics could well gain even more influence if GOP policies are enacted, they said.

Such rhetoric, especially from members of the hierarchy, is notable given that the USCCB has been relatively quiet on economic issues compared with other topics. That’s been a sharp contrast to the 1980s, when in the midst of the Reagan revolution of deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy the bishops issued a landmark pastoral letter titled “Economic Justice for All.”

Also notable was the fact that this conference took place at Catholic University of America: CUA is the only pontifical university in the U.S., meaning it is overseen by the bishops. Yet it has developed a reputation for political conservatism and as a platform for outspoken critics of Pope Francis.

The university has also raised eyebrows, and drawn criticism, for taking large donations from free market proponents such as the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch — Charles Koch is set to speak at the school in October — and from Catholic philanthropist Tim Busch.

The libertarian-leaning views of such donors (the Kochs are not Catholic) are seen as directly opposed to Catholic teaching, and a distinct contrast to the views expressed at the conference.

The defense of health care by participants at the event also struck a new note: While Catholic teaching says that affordable, universal health care is a basic right, the USCCB was one of the loudest foes of Obamacare because the bishops were convinced the reform law would lead to massive taxpayer funding of abortion.

That did not happen, but the administration’s contraception mandate for employers angered the hierarchy and became the focus of much of the bishops’ lobbying in recent years.

Now, however, the bishops feel that a Republican-led government could easily fix the mandate and any other problems without ending health care for the 20 million or more who had been without coverage before the Affordable Care Act.

Another factor in the potential shift in the church’s focus is that a Republican Congress and a Trump administration can appoint one or possibly more Supreme Court justices who would be expected to perhaps overturn Roe v. Wade or limit abortion rights in ways that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has long hoped for.

That would diminish the need to lobby so intently on that one issue and on attendant concerns about religious freedom. At the same time, Trump and other top Republicans have said gay marriage — once portrayed as an issue as critical as legalized abortion — is a settled question so that it appears unlikely to re-emerge as the hot-button topic it was under President Obama.

Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and the GOP’s hard-line stance against immigration reform have also raised concerns among the bishops, and in interviews after the conference both O’Malley and McElroy said that protecting immigrants, along with the threat of cuts to basic government services, are issues that find wide consensus in a hierarchy that has been sharply divided and often unable to speak with a unified voice as it did in the past.

“The issue of immigration is going to be a catalytic moment in the bishops’ conference,” said McElory, calling it the “defining issue” of the coming years.

It also one that will inevitably entail economic issues in a way that the USCCB has not stressed recently.

Such a shift, however, is likely to encounter resistance from Catholic conservatives who have dominated the church’s power structures in past decades.

“[E]conomic illiteracy posing as piety, once again,” the Rev. Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest who heads the Acton Institute, a prominent free market think tank, tweeted in response to McElroy’s comments.

But John Carr, who for years directed social policy at the USCCB before launching the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, said world events were pulling Catholics in two starkly different directions.

“What are the two most stunning developments of the past five years?” said Carr, who attended the CUA event. “The election of Francis as pope and the election of Donald Trump as president.”

He said both men have enjoyed the support of Catholics who like their status as outsiders who vow to shake up the status quo. But they offer vastly different visions, Carr said – with the pope wanting to build bridges and the new president vowing to build walls.

“It seems to me that Catholics in the U.S. are going to have to make a choice,” he said. “Which is their vision?”

As AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka said in his concluding remarks: “The next few years will test us as a labor movement and as a church. Will we stay true to our moral values when it actually costs us something?”

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

67 Comments

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  • This COULD be the best news in decades regarding the Catholic church and its potential to have a history-making positive effect on American society, IF they would keep their focus on helping workers and the underprivileged, and stop trying to suppress LGBT rights and women’s reproductive rights — especially for people who don’t even go to their church. Supporting contraception would be a great start.

  • Losing cause. Mike Pence or Paul Ryan represent the future of white Catholicism in the US. Weirdly, the only practicing Catholic liberal in my extended family is a retired CEO. There are a few Republicans here and there who still go to church and see the church as essentially a Republican ally because when push comes to shove all these labor-loving bishops will make statements that in effect endorse Republican candidates no matter how anti-labor they are.

    Almost no one in my extended family practices their ancestral Catholicism due to the Catholic Church’s backward stances on women’s rights and the crabby arrogance of young ultra-conservative Catholic priests. Those who have dropped Catholicism see it as a handmaiden of the Republican party.

  • Makes me proud to be a Catholic. Thanks for the article- so concise and far reaching. Mary Rakow, novelist

  • I agree with the USCCB that the Republicans could fix Obamacare’s problems. I just don’t think they have any interest in doing so.

  • The Roman Catholic Church should put its money where its mouth is. How about selling many of the businesses and properties that the church owns? Cry me a river, hypocrites. Not to mention that they think socialism is the answer to income equality despite the fact that socialism has never worked anywhere in the world it has been tried.

  • Sadly fascinating that Cardinal O’Malley’s worldview has no room for working people who — I’m sure this must shock him — don’t want to be unionized. He assumes all workers ought to be in unions. Happily, Rerum Novarum and subsequent Church documents never say that.

  • Red Baron I’m afraid that selling all those things would bring serious flooding of the market: why would I pay asking price for a Vatican painting, say, if there are 1000s of equally beautiful others also for sale? I’d like to see an evaluation based on current market value!

  • Where exactly has socialism been tried? And why do you ignore the success of Sociial Democracy, a movement started with US support to fight communism and extreme socialism? Under Social Democracy ownership of the means of production is private and capitalistic. But the government uses taxes to provide many human rights, including free or cheap health care, uniiversal cheap or free day care, child payments to support working and non-working families, universal elederly care, and often cheap or free university education. Social democracies also impose minimum wages and often give unions a moderate say in management. Americans, including Bernie Sanders, have the sloppy habit of using the term Socialism when they mean Social Democracy. “Socialsim has never worked” is a deliberate evasion to avoid looking at the success of Social Democracy. Example: Denmark, rated the happiest country in the world and one of the most entrepreneurial, with a substantially higher upward mobility rate than the USA. The bishops are not talking about socialism. They are talking about a watered down version of Social Democracy. P.S. The term “democracy” includes private ownership of the means of production. That’s why it’s part of the name Social Democracy. It also does not allow private ownership to mean treating workers as serfs.

  • “It cannot be said too strongly that using market mechanisms for the establishment of benefit levels in American society for our most vulnerable populations will unleash a series of silent killers in our nation that are all the more invidious because they are aimed at those without power,” McElroy said.

    Bingo. I once worked with disabled people and had a client with the mental and emotional level of a 10 year old because her mother drank steadily while pregnant. At this time she lives in public housing on $720/month. If money for her housing and other needs is cut she won’t survive for 6 months. There are many, many people like her. I worry about them because they don’t stand a chance if the budget is slashed.

    I frequently hear people talking about welfare cheaters, and there are some. They’re generally clever people who will figure out another way. The large majority of people receiving assistance are like my former client – in direct need and not smart enough to manage a reduction. If you support budget cuts for social welfare needs, keep in mind that some will die.

  • Not true. He accurately points out that the weakening of unions has coincided with the weakening of workers wages, rights, etc. Just like the rise of unions led to better working conditions, wages, etc. Unions are not perfect. What organization made up of people is perfect? However, the current attack on unions by well-funded groups is extremely troubling.

  • The Bishops do love the pro-abortion politicians and group like the AFL-CIO………the slaughter of millions of babies takes a back set to pleasing the liberal lobbying groups.

  • Women’s Rights….do you mean the right to slaughter millions and millions of unborn babies in the womb by cutting off their heads, crushing their bodies, and stopping their beating hearts?

  • “Where exactly has socialism been tried? ” National Socialism in Germany in the 1930’s and early 40’s tried it.

  • So you are pretty much admitting that abortion is a phony issue to get working people to vote against their economic interests.

    Let me point out something that you never considered. In the 40 years of fighting legalized abortion, where we had several conservative dominated governments, you are no closer to overturning Roe v. Wade than you were when it was decided, nor EVER LIKELY TO.

    All you have done is fund politicians whose real agenda is attacking the livelihood of the working and middle class

  • Since the ACA began life as a Republican proposed idea, the joke going around is that they will just rename it and pretend it was replaced.

  • Do you understand that bearing false witness is a sin in your faith?

    Lying in service of your faith is still wrong.

  • I am not sure if you are a Poe troll or just genuinely ignorant. National Socialism has more in common with conservative social and economic agendas than socialism. Hitler banned abortion, privatized government services, and was supported vociferously by churches.

  • Finally we will have a president who will defund planned parenthood….and if Robert Bork made it to the Supreme Cout Roe V Wade would have fallen…it was a liberal Catholic Ted Kennedy who stopped Bork.

  • I wish I was wrong…….my grandfather was a union member.

    In 2006, the AFL-CIO, stated their support for “reproductive rights.” The statues included:

    “Over the last two decades we have witnessed increasing efforts of anti-choice forces to undermine the reproductive rights of American women”

    And, with state legislatures adopting incremental legislation with restrictive measures causing limitations to “reproductive healthcare and abortion rights”

    “Women should have the right to make the profoundly personal choice of whether and when to bear children”

    Work to ensure teens have access to sex education and “information about avoiding unwanted pregnancies

    Discussing how the “American Federation of Teachers has supported women’s reproductive rights since 1981″

  • Bwahahahaha! You believed that? Trump doesn’t give a solitary damn about abortion. He never did. He’s not a Bible thumper and only values them for their votes and nothing else. Bork had zero chance of getting on the court. That was with a Republican in the presidency and a republican dominated Congress.

    You’re a tool. As long as people make nonsense promises about banning abortion you will follow anyone. BTW if you don’t like abortions don’t have them. If you don’t like other people having them, don’t have to care.

  • You do have to remember that anyone who supports legal abortion will burn in hell forever….every child murdered by abortion is a child of God.

    By the way – Trump has promised he will stop sending PP the $400 million dollars a year they have been receiving in tax dollars – Trump is not a Bible thumper but any person with half a brain or the slightest amount of decency will work to end abortion…..Trump has more decency in his little toe that every pro-abortion liberal combined.

  • Well………….Jesus said if you harm a little one it would have been better if you had a mill stone around your neck and cast into the sea…….take you suspicions up with Him!

  • I could not find that anywhere on their website. However, I find it incredibly sad that you represent a faction of the Church that willingly let’s people influence your opinion on working people by using your heartfelt hate of abortion. Interesting fact, abortion rates goes down when people have good jobs, benefits and financial stability.

  • Have you considered what God may be doing with these total strangers — or with you, for that matter — e.g., testing your humility, your compassion, your mercy, your recognition of your own inability to competently judge others, and your realization of the folly and harm in treating them according to what you simply presume to “know” about them?

    Do you believe they should be able to hold their beliefs over you? Why do you presume that you should be able to hold your beliefs over them?

    These are critical concerns, how you treat strangers; and, as I recall from my good Christian upbringing, you will ultimately have to justify how you treated “the least of these” to your God.

    Given the importance of these issues, isn’t it far more desirable and defensible to err on the side of humility, compassion, mercy, and self-restraint than to risk erring on the side of hubris, contempt, malice, and self-righteousness?

  • When someone is committing a grave sin that endangers their soul it is kindness and charity to say STOP!

  • Trump also promised to pay contractors he hired, promised to be faithful to any given wife and promised investors he would not bill them of their money. Guess what? His word isn’t worth squat. Everyone who is familiar with him knows that.

    If you think Trump has any sense of decency you are too far gone into delusion as to require some serious mental health professionals and a vat of Thorazine.

    Good luck with that. Bless your heart.

  • What you call “kindness”, I call bullying trespass, full of ego, devoid of empathy.

    You are invading others’ privacy and trampling their spiritual/existential beliefs, to which they rightly, rightfully, and righteously hold only themselves — not you, just themselves.

    In contrast, you self-exaltedly hold them to your beliefs, to which you may rightly, rightfully, and righteously hold only yourself — not them, just yourself.

    Your refusal to acknowledge their equality, your disrespect of their personal boundaries, and your cruel (and ignorant, since you don’t even know them) disparagement of their lives is nothing short of immoral.

    Has it even occurred to you that you are profaning their beliefs?

    As you say, “When someone is committing a grave sin that endangers their soul it is kindness and charity to say STOP!”

  • So you are saying Trump was dishonest in business, was not faithful to a wife, and some investors lost money….thank you for proving my point.

    Every liberal Democrat who supports abortion is guilty of the mass murder of millions of God’s children in the womb….they are guilty of genocide and you admit Trump is guilty of some dishonesty……the hellish mass murder of millions cannot be compared to a businessman who’s deals you don’t like….the liberal abortion supporting politicians make the Nazis look like rookies……bless you soul.

  • Trouble is that abortions are only part of the reproductive services offered by Planned Parenthood. The states closing down the clinics are the ones who desperately need these other services.

  • Remember the rhyme you learned? “God will burn you yes I know for the bible tells me so.” Remember they are not judging you, god is, based on specific bible texts. They’re just happy to point this out.

  • It’s clear you can’t answer….the liberals support genocide and your upset with Trump because you don’t like his business dealings…..

  • Apparently, so do the Republican Party and religious conservatives. After all, we never heard a peep from the, about our two unfounded and undeclared wars, and although they wring their hands every once in a while about the murders of Christians in the Middle East, and the murders of Muslims in the Middle East, they don’t do a thing about it.

    Apparently, they are fine with mass murder once people are born.

  • I have a great deal of decency, and I would love to see abortion disappear.

    But only because I want to see sex education, birth control, Family planning be national health priorities, not because I see pregnancy as a punishment.

  • Ridiculous answer. Nazi Germany didn’t fail economically, it failed morally and militarily. And it wasn’t socialism, it was fascism. Ownership of the means of production remained in private corporate hands, but war production was ordered and managed by the German government, as it was in the USA during WWII (a great success) The French government at one time did try owning and running industries and that was a miserable failure. It re-privatized all the industries it had nationalized. But since then France has created the best, most competitive universal health care system, the simplest to use, in which all decisions remain in doctors’ hands (not insurance companies, as in the USA). But Hospitals must compete on patient care quality to get a higher level of compensation from the government. This system is much praised by real conservatives, not right wing fanatics. And Social Democratic governments, as in Denmark, for instance, are exceptionally successful. And today’s Germany provides free health care and free university education (even for foreigners, with some universities teaching in English). P.S. I have known part time college students making decisions about health care treatment at US insurance companies, using a sheet of boiler plate instructions to deny care or compensation for care. You like that system? The one time I had surgery, the surgeon demanded to know the denier’s medical credentials and threatened to sue him for practicing medicine without a license. The surgeon’s fees were promptly approved after being denied. Don’t be so quick to swallow the nonsense about the US being best at everything because corporations control the health care system and most of the government and are working to end all social benefits in order to maximize their profits. BTW, in the 2008 worldwide banking crisis the conservative Social Democrats were elected over the left wing Social Democrats to run the Swedish government. They refused to bail out the banks (all mismanaged , as in the USA), nationalized the banks without compensation to shareholders, reorganized them and sold them back to private owners at a profit. That’s real conservatism.

  • Not quite by all churches. The Catholic church successfully defeated his euthanasia laws (he did it anyway). And it was prepared to defend the Jews but Hitler threatened to put a large number of priest on trail for child sex. Nonetheless the Archbishop of Munich, whom Hitler feared, ordered that all churches put yellow stars on statues of Jesus and Mary to proclaim that they were Jews (Hitler’s antiSemitism was racist, not religious). People who opposed the regime started to go back to church to show some resistance to the Nazi treatment of Jews. The Archbishop never ceased to preach against the persecution of the Jews. And the Catholic Center party, strong in the Reichstag, and resolutely anti-Nazi, felt stabbed in the back when Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, signed his infamous concordat (treaty) with Hitler. Of course there was also Lutheran resistance to Hitler, although all the Lutheran bishops supported Hitler.

  • The Catholic Church stood by and continued to promulgate anti semitism as dogma during the Holocaust (not disavowed until 1965). Individual clergy and some small groups made efforts to save people, but they were the exception. Not the norm. The Church had a close relationship with fascism ever since it put Franco in power in Spain.

    The only national church as a whole in occupied Europe which resisted Hitler was the Danish Lutheran Church. They helped organize a massive boat lift which saved virtually the entire Danish Jewish population.

  • Nazi Germany was a perfect socialist society – all power in the hands of the government. You can claim all you want that the national socialists were not socialist but it won’t work. From the USSR, to Nazi Germany, North Korea, to Mao’s China when the government has complete control of peoples lives a lot of people are murdered.

    JOHN XXIII wrote “Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production; it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.” (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)

  • So, please point out for me where Cardinal O’Malley acknowledges workers who dont want to be unionized? Where did he acknowlege their right to refrain from being part of a union?

  • No. I don’t need to. You made an assumption based on the fact he didn’t say anything about your hypothetical workers. Instead of nitpicking, why don’t you read the article with an open mind?

  • Maggie Sullivan, thanks for your gentle reminder of why I left your church and why I protected my kids from its indoctrination. Enjoy your Mass this weekend. Peace be with you.

  • The leadership of my Catholic Church is of the same mindset as all the elitists in Government, Academia and Hollywood. There “I know better then all you unwashed” attitude has given rise to the conservative movements around the world. I certainly hope it continues on.
    The same leadership of the Catholic Church is almost terrified to lose their Tax exempt status. They are willingly selling their souls for this.
    As a second point: I consider the today’s unions, besides the ACLU the most destructive forces of free speech and free movement of labor. Thankfully there is the national “Right to work movement” which hopefully will end the free market labor unions. I am also sure that the AFL-CIO as well as the SEIU is nothing but a money laundering scheme for the Democratic party. To move tax money (Wages to the Union members) using the vehicle of union dues, funding the DNC https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

    I voted for Donald Trump, but not with great joy. He was the last one standing on the Republican side.
    He has at times a filthy mouth, for sure.But Hillary R Clinton has Bloody hands at all time, She also has not seen any abortion procedure she did not like. Margaret Sanger would be very proud of Hillary. Her (Sanger) vision to eliminate the black people in America is being accomplished by the support of liberal forces in our Country and in our Church. As long as the Church Holds apportion at the same level as illegal immigration there are guilty of the Murder of the unborn.
    In many sermons and written essays of Catholic Church leaders, I left the church with the distinct knowledge; That if you help an illegal refugee you can then go out and have an apportion.

    The good thing is that I do not need to listen to those Church leaders espousing those extreme Socialistic political views. They have to live with their own conscience. Luke 17:2

    The Reverend Clenard H. Childress calls this phenomenon “black genocide” and has built a national ministry around its exposure.
    http://abort73.com/abortion/abortion_and_race

    This is the true face of Racism in America.

    [Martin Luther King, Jr.] once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.1

  • We’re talking about Germany, not the Vatican. Contradictions within organizations are normal, The Cathoilic Church made it clear that its anti-Semitism was religious, not racial. Hitler made anti-Semitism racial. The Vatican thought its distinction somehow made anti-Semitism OK but it did not. Nonetheless many Catholics, understanding That Hitler’s anti-Semitism was racial, felt obliged to help Jews. In some cases they did this by issuing Baptismal certificates to Jews. Other Catholic gladly aided the Nazi cause. But the lay Catholic Center parties in Germany and Austria resolutely opposed Hitler. In Germany the Center Party was undermined by the Vatican. In Austria the Center Party head of government was so successful – and center right – that the Communists and the Nazis conspired together and went to his home and murdered him. After that the Archbishop of Vienna urged Catholics to vote for union with Germany, that is, for HItler, despite orders form the Vatican not to do this. As a result Hitler won the election. The archbishop thought he could control Hitler but he was one of the first victims of the Nazi takeover. He had to flee for his life when a Nazi mob broke into his home with the intention of dragging him through the streets and killing him. The record of Catholics, and local catholic churches, was mixed.Of course after the war everyone conspired in the myth that Austria was taken over by force rather than by popular vote.

  • Social Democracy is quite favored by the Catholic Church over American style capitalism. And Nazi Germany was roaring economic success, so what’s your point about failure? You have obviously bought the extremist right wing American propaganda that Social Democracy falls under the church’s condemnation of communism. It does not ,and the northern European social democracies carry out Catholic social teaching far better than the US Republican Party, of which the US Catholic church is a subordinate branch.

    In addition, using the same infallible authority, the Catholic Church in the 1800’s condemned democracy as against Natural law. This condemnation was never rescinded just quietly laid aside after WWII (out of embarrassment). So you are quoting a church whose moral authority is not as firm as you might wish. Unless, of course, that you do not accept democracy as legitimate,, as is the Case with many US Republicans. polls show that almost half of Republcans want the military to run the US government, as in a typical fascist country.

  • Hi Marty, Thank you – at every Mass a person in the state of grace receives the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ – the greatest joy and blessing in the world – a pledge of future glory – the forgiveness of sins – the life of the Holy and Blessed Trinity – the joy of the Angels and Saints – union with other Christians – and eternal life……just to mention a few of the infinite joys God gives to those who love Him.

  • “And Nazi Germany was roaring economic success, so what’s your point about failure?”

    It had as much to do with Socialism as nations calling themselves “The Democratic Republic of” have to do with Democracy.

    Actually Nazi Germany was an economic failure at all levels. It sustained itself entirely by plunder in a ponzi scheme like fashion of keeping Germany well supplied by starving its conquered states. Once the blitzkreig was blunted, stagnation immediately set in. It could not mobilize its workforce as effectively as the Allies. Slave labor ensured poor quality of much of its industrial output. Many of its higher ups took to plundering the GDP as their personal piggy banks.

    Long after the war, the Catholic Church’s love affair with fascism was still going strong. Franco more or less let the Church dictate domestic policy. More than half a million Spaniards “disappeared” during Franco’s reign.

  • I not only read the article I’m commenting on, I read the transcript of Cardinal O’Malley’s actual comments; so I know, from first hand knowledge, that he did not acknowledge workers who aren’t in unions. So, to correct your misstatements:

    1) I made no assumption; I made a factual statement on the basis of what he actually said, and did not say;

    2) These are not “hypothetical workers” — it is actually true that the great majority of working people in the U.S. are not in unions. I have met quite a few people who could belong to unions, but do not wish to. So there’s nothing “hypothetical” about workers who don’t wish to belong to unions. Unless you believe such people don’t exist — is that actually the case? Why would you label them “hypothetical workers”? Generally, people who actually exist are not called “hypothetical people” — not in English as I was taught it. Perhaps English is not your first language?

    Further, the reason I asked you to point to those statements, was that your prior comment impugned my accuracy. You said my comment was “Not true”; I was simply asking you to show exactly where my assertions were “not true.”

    Of course, no one can make you demonstrate the truth of your assertions; but when you accuse people of saying things that are “not true,” it’s customary to ask people to cite what, precisely, is “not true.” When people make such accusations, and decline to substantiate them, the inference is rather obvious.

  • >>As AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka said in his concluding remarks: “The next few years will test us as a labor movement and as a church. Will we stay true to our moral values when it actually costs us something?”<<

    Well, we know that in the case of Trumka himself the answer to his question is a resounding "No!" Trumka backs Democrats without reservation, no matter their position on abortion, religious liberty, etc.

  • I was raised Catholic but am no longer proud of the Church. Among reasons: the priest scandal and the Church’s alignment with mean-spirited fundamentalists. There was much to admire about the Church in the Sixties when clergy marched for civil rights and against the Viet Nam war. Now, it’s fixated on abortion and birth control. It’s time to get out of that rut and stand up for the values that will be under threat under the new administration.

  • My immigrant grandfather was a coal miner who worked for starvation wages under dangerous conditions. So, what would Jesus want, the union my grandfather fought for or your cold-hearted anti-union approach? If someone doesn’t want to be in a union, they don’t have to be, but anyone who would turn down better wages and working conditions for ideological reasons is a very odd duck.

  • That’s a pretty funny comment; did you intend it to be so funny?

    First of all, it’s 2017, not whatever year it was when your coal-miner grandfather worked for starvation wages.

    Second, I think Jesus might possibly be capable of non-binary thinking: i.e., there’s more than two alternatives.

    Third, I hesitate to speak for Jesus, but I don’t think he’d be in favor of forcing people to pay union dues, and if they refuse, they lose their jobs. That is what happens in states without Right to Work laws. And I think Jesus would not be in favor of that union dues money being used to promote abortion and so-called “same sex marriage,” among other things that many of our unions have endorsed.

    Fourth, why do you assume that being in a union always means “better wages and working conditions”?

    Fifth, if it really is true that being in a union means “better wages and working conditions,” then why force anyone to pay dues? They would line up around the block — unless you believe working people are idiots. Do you believe that?

  • Nope, didn’t think you’d answer. You accuse people of lying, but when asked to back it up…crickets. Nice!

  • Seriously?!!! You do realize this is a message board, not a job or obligation?! Fairly to acknowledge does not mean no room for, which is what your original post said. Never called you a liar, just disagree with your assumption. Now, respond please because I know you want the last word and I’m done. Please enjoy it.

  • Now you misrepresent what you actually said. You said, and I quote, that my comments were “Not true.” Why is being honest so difficult for you? Is it pride?

  • My bad. You are right. Virtual gold star. I had not meant you were lying but rather that I thought your assumption was wrong. However, I can see why you would think so. And, while my intent was not to question your honesty, it sounds like the impact was that you thought I did. And, for that I apologize. Now, perhaps we can move on? And, why I appreciate your concern about my personal honesty and pride, I think I’ll be fine without your help.

  • Repeat: Anyone who would turn down better wages and working conditions for ideological reasons is a very odd duck.

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