One Catholic's View of Health Care

I have been wanting to say something about the health care debate for sometime, but I have refrained from doing so for one simple reason; not only do I not know enough about the issue, but I am not certain where to even look for relevant knowledge about it. There are two, sometimes more, narratives about what the government is proposing that are so completely at odds, but put forward with such ferocity and vehemence, that it is difficult to know how much of the truth each side is portraying.

Thus I am left to wander about with my own hazy speculation. All I can speak to are my own principles and what little I do know about the state of health care and the dimensions of the problem, neither of which are adequate for the task at hand, but I will proceed anyway and let the discussion develop as it may.

One thing I believe that the vast majority of Catholics can agree to is that, somehow, some way, everyone is entitled by way of their human dignity to health care. Among the things that Christ will judge us for at the end of time is whether or not we helped Him, through the least of our brethren, while he was sick; did we care for Him, or turn our backs on Him?

To put it another way, if we act on the assumption that Christ is present in all men and women, that logically demands we find some way to take care of them when they are ill. And as much as it may raise the ire of some of my fellow commentators, I believe this applies in full to so-called “illegal aliens”, regardless of what we decide; while I don’t demand that they be given the full array of services that citizens are entitled to, it is obscene and manifestly anti-Christian to propose that they be denied basic and emergency health services.

Secondly, there is the issue of subsidiarity; those services which can be provided locally, ought to be. A number of bishops have spoken out on this topic as it relates to the health care debate. One bishop made a statement that reflects my own thinking on the matter, quoted at LifeSiteNews.com:

Bishop James Vann Johnston quoted the Catholic Catechism to emphasize that subsidiarity is “opposed to all forms of collectivism” and “sets limits for state intervention.” He explained, however, that “the higher order” of central government does have a role in health-care reform; but it must only play a very limited and supporting role, not a dominant one, so as not to run the risk of crushing all the other necessary functions and expressions of society and trampling on the individual.

This follows quite well John Paul II’s commentary on the welfare state in Centesiums Annus. There is a role for the state to play in providing health care, but it is a decided small one. In my view, the ideal system would be one in which federal money could reach the local level without the federal government exercising total control over how the funds are used. It would be the place of the government to establish broad guidelines and goals, but the responsibility of local health care providers to determine in what specific ways the funds are allocated and put to use.

Thirdly, and this is all too often overlooked in debates over health care, I would prefer to see a plan that heavily focuses on prevention. There are an embarrassing number of health problems that are related to lifestyle choices alone. While I do not propose denying, or making prohibitively expensive, health services to people whose illnesses are related to personal choices, I do propose taxes on the consumption of goods and services that are known to contribute to poor health. We are past the point where one has an absolute right to be unhealthy and have society pay the tab. Rights without responsibilities are not rights at all, but indulgences granted to children. It’s time to grow up.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the matter of federal funding for abortion, euthanasia, and other anti-life policies. No plan that contains these elements is acceptable, and it would be better for the broken private system to remain in place than for an efficient system that makes it easier to murder and dispose of people “unwanted” by our consumerist society to be established.

For my part, I have been impressed with the changes several European countries have made to their once heavily socialized systems in favor of approaches that more efficiently combine state and market approaches. I think America would benefit from moving in the same direction from the other side, and meeting Europe somewhere in the middle.

In an article proposing that the Dutch system could be adapted for the US, the authors highlight consumer choice as one of its features – in my view, it is the fear of “government doctors” that prevents many Americans from getting on board with any sort of government involvement in healthcare. The article states:

As discussed, insurance companies are required to accept each applicant for basic insurance coverage. Individuals can choose from among 14 private insurance companies and several related subsidiaries. The Dutch government has set up a Web site where consumers can compare all insurers with respect to price, services, consumer satisfaction, and supplemental insurance, and compare hospitals on different sets of performance indicators.

The Dutch system provides healthcare through private companies which are subsidized by the government. This sort of private-public response to the problem of healthcare appears to be, no pun intended, what the doctor ordered for the United States. Of course I am not arguing that the Dutch system is perfect, and many have noted its flaws and potential problems for the future. But it seems to me that they at least have the right idea.

Unfortunately there will be some on both sides that are unsatisfied; some want no private involvement, some want no government involvement. Neither of these positions is reasonable in the year 2009. Big problems require big solutions and a role for the state; but no problem is so big that we can disregard the dignity of individuals and the integrity of local communities. Anyone insisting that either the public or private sector alone offers the entire solution is marching out of step with Catholic social teaching and with Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, which states,

When both the logic of the market and the logic of the State come to an agreement that each will continue to exercise a monopoly over its respective area of influence, in the long term much is lost… The exclusively binary model of market-plus-State is corrosive of society, while economic forms based on solidarity, which find their natural home in civil society without being restricted to it, build up society.” (39)

64 Responses to One Catholic's View of Health Care

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Joe,

    everyone is entitled by way of their human dignity to health care

    The right of access to health care is not the same as an entitlement to health care. The Church’s teachings are clear that those who do not work do not eat. It’s obvious to me that this teaching applies to health care as well. A system where all can afford basic health care with the honest fruits of their labors, to the best of their ability is completely necessary to human dignity. As to catastrophic illness or injury, it seems that affordable insurance purchasable BEFORE such an event would be good for human dignity, I don’t see it as a violation of human dignity for such an event to result in a serious financial setback, even bankruptcy (provided of course that bankruptcy protects human dignity).

    To my mind the Christian teaching is focused on access to care, and not on funding of such care. Furthermore, Christian teaching is fundamentally focused on what WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS do, not on what government ought to do at our behest.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “A system where all can afford basic health care with the honest fruits of their labors, to the best of their ability is completely necessary to human dignity.”

    I agree. I think the problem is that many people can’t afford it, of if they can, only at great cost. Health care costs place a tremendous burden on many household budgets. So simply “having” it is not enough, nor is “access” in general. So how do we define affordable?

    “To my mind the Christian teaching is focused on access to care, and not on funding of such care.”

    Please forgive me and I ask this without the slightest hint of sarcasm, but how are these unrelated? Does not access depend to some degree upon funding?

    “Furthermore, Christian teaching is fundamentally focused on what WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS do, not on what government ought to do at our behest.”

    I will humbly and respectfully disagree. We have a dozen encyclicals, a Compendium of Social Doctrine, and a Catechism that discusses government and economics at length.

    Now please, please, can we do this charitably?

  • Jonathan says:

    I think we can do this charitably, Joe. :-)

    “Among the things that Christ will judge us for at the end of time is whether or not we helped Him, through the least of our brethren, while he was sick; did we care for Him, or turn our backs on Him?”

    I agree. However, one of the early commentators on scripture, as recorded in “Ancient Christian Commentaries on Scripture,” said on Christ’s requirement that we remove our cloak and give it to our brother when he asks (surely a requirement of charity) that, “For surely, we cannot remove anothers’ cloak and give it to our brother” or something to that effect.

    I have often asked – how can law impose the commands of Christ, except to individual Christians? Surely, we as individuals are responsible for the care of Christ through the poor, but those who do not believe in Christ?

    “it is obscene and manifestly anti-Christian to propose that they be denied basic and emergency health services.”

    I think this is a straw man. Except for some of the more rabid and insane circles, I have never seen a rational proposal which says that illegal immigrants be denied the right to have coverage under a national health care program while at the same time, denying any ability to have medical care under emergency situations.

    “In my view, the ideal system would be one in which federal money could reach the local level without the federal government exercising total control over how the funds are used.”

    Why is that, Joe? Other than a pragmatic approach based on political power, why federal money, considering the expense of funneling money, say, from Indianapolis to D.C. and back to Indianapolis?

    “Thirdly, and this is all too often overlooked in debates over health care, I would prefer to see a plan that heavily focuses on prevention. There are an embarrassing number of health problems that are related to lifestyle choices alone.”

    All too often, I suspect, it is lifestyle AND genetics which is related. I have heard this proposal before – to tax those items which actually cause (or are perceived to cause, even if wrongly) health problems.

    Ultimately, prevention is far too expensive for our country to afford – the cost of preventing one problem far exceeds the cost of treating it. The system would collapse under it’s own financial requirements.

    “Unfortunately there will be some on both sides that are unsatisfied; some want no private involvement, some want no government involvement. Neither of these positions is reasonable in the year 2009.”

    Why are neither of these solutions reasonable? Can you explain your reasoning further?

    Thanks!

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Johnathan,

    I will do my best to answer your questions.

    “I have often asked – how can law impose the commands of Christ, except to individual Christians? Surely, we as individuals are responsible for the care of Christ through the poor, but those who do not believe in Christ?”

    The Church has a social doctrine that I believe Catholics are obliged to acknowledge, respect, and implement to the best of their abilities.

    But the social doctrine of the Church, though it is inspired by Scripture and Tradition, also has many universal principles rooted in “natural law”, in the moral law God has inscribed in our hearts and souls, regardless of our profession of faith.

    So I would say that this is not a question of imposing the commands of Christ on non-believers. Rather it is a question of which policies we want to propose and put forward to be decided upon democratically. We have a right and a duty to speak in favor of policy A and against policy B as Christians.

    That said, there are of course some policies, especially when we get down to the specifics, on which Christians can legitimately disagree.

    With regard to immigrants and health care:

    “I think this is a straw man. Except for some of the more rabid and insane circles…”

    Unfortunately I believe the viewpoint represented in these circles is more widespread than some people imagine, especially if we consider some (not all, some, not all, some) right-wing talk radio.I believe it is common enough to warrant a statement on the topic.

    “Why is that, Joe? Other than a pragmatic approach based on political power, why federal money, considering the expense of funneling money, say, from Indianapolis to D.C. and back to Indianapolis?”

    Because there are many states, like mine, that are on the verge of bankruptcy, and could use federal assistance. I suppose I don’t know enough about finance to understand the costs of moving money from one place to another. I imagined it was a fairly simple matter, but if I’m mistaken, so be it.

    “Ultimately, prevention is far too expensive for our country to afford”

    I don’t see why, exactly. Wouldn’t the point of a tax be to pay for the extra expenses of treating people who have hurt themselves through excessive consumption?

    Perhaps in the short-term it will be costly, but wouldn’t it eventually pay off down the line?

    “Why are neither of these solutions reasonable? Can you explain your reasoning further?”

    Because the private sector alone does not and cannot provide health care to all who need it and deserve it, and the state alone will not provide the best quality care because it is a monopoly. Hence the need for a private-public approach, where private competition can keep cost and quality in check, but where those who are having financial difficulties can be assured treatment.

  • American Knight says:

    We have to be careful not to confuse what someone is owed as a right with who owes it to them. Christians have always had a right to life, yet history is replete with violations of that right beginning with the Cross.

    What we do for the least of Christ’s brethren we do to Him. It is a demand of Charity to take care of those less fortunate; it is not charity to provide for the indolent. Charity is a command and an obligation on every human, Christian or otherwise, the difference is in the judgment and that is not up to us. We also have to keep in mind that God gave us a free will — this is a very important elusive obvious. If we are to respect God then we have to respect free will. Charity born of free will is pleasing in His eyes. Charity born of a government program backed up by force is theft. We cannot promote one commandment at the expense of another. God is one. The Trinity is a Unity. God does not contradict Himself. His Laws are not contradictory.

    If you want to pay for the health care of an illegal alien that is your choice. You CANNOT demand that anyone else pay for it and give it the specious cover of legitimacy through the force of the government.

    Health care is NOT a right. Medical care is not a right. LIFE is a right and I can guarantee that it will NOT be healthy. Eventually we all get sick and we all die. We were conceived in SIN and the wages of sin is DEATH.

    Health care is a personal responsibility. You should eat right; exercise, etc. because you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a choice because you have to choose, of your own free will, to cooperate with God in building His temple and His mystical body too. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE. If choice is removed then it is no longer free and your free will is being violated and Christ wasted His time coming here to save you.

    Health care is not a service, although in a free market someone may offer you services and products to help you with your health care. Health care CANNOT be insured. Sickness and death are risks that can be transferred to NO MAN, no corporate or government body including an insurance company. The risk of sickness and death can only be transferred to Jesus the Christ. Note transfer here is an exchange and an exchange is a sacrifice of a lower good for a higher good. If you want health care insurance ask God for it — but be careful, the premium is very, very high – it requires total submission, obedience and the forfeiture of your LIFE!!!!

    Medical services are not a right, they are a market good. Medical services are subject to the economic Law of Scarcity and the free market pricing system, which is a function of supply and demand. No one has a RIGHT to any product of the market. We have a right TO the MARKET not to what is in the market.

    The cost of medical services, like any other service, can be transferred to an insurance company. In a free market that would cost less, you’d have more choice, charitable organizations would be able to purchase programs for the poor and numerous other benefits we can’t even imagine because we have not let the innovative minds of the entrepreneurs find these solutions.

    Government’s role (and not necessarily at the Federal level) is to enforce contracts and punish fraud. That is it. It is simple. It is easy. It is free. It is right. All these symptoms we keep debating are a waste of time we have to attack the disease. The disease is the government. I know some you are going to want to blame the corporations and the lobbyists, etc. and I agree with you. But ask yourself how they have this ridiculous power? It isn’t intrinsic. That power, the power of force is either criminal or government. Punish the criminals. LIMIT the government. If the money power and the coercive power were restrained then all the other parasites would go away. Then we would have FREEDOM.

    Of course freedom is not a guarantee and just because we would be free doesn’t mean we would cease to be sinners. At least we’d be free to pursue sanctification and others would be free to go to hell.

  • JB says:

    “Anyone insisting that either the public or private sector alone offers the entire solution is marching out of step with Catholic social teaching and with Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate”

    I think you are making more of that statement than it is. We don’t have to “march in step” with Catholic Social teachings unless they are principles of faith and morals, rather than matters of prudential judgment, which much if not most of it is.

    The problem I have with government as a payer and/or provider is the “golden rule” – that is he who has the gold makes the rules. We have an ever increasingly secular government that is hostile to the integration of faith and morals in anything. To think that the government will accommodate Catholic teachings in health care that is pays for is in a word – Polyannish, especially THIS administration who is the most pro-abortion, anti-life administration we have ever had.

    What I would like to see is the Catholic Church step up like the Knights of Columbus did with life insurance and develop it’s own PRIVATE health insurance plan in accordance with Church social AND moral teachings. This could be done through the Catholic Medical Association.

    There are a number of OB/GYN clinics around the country that are fully in line with Church teachings such as the Pope Paul VI Institute and the Tepeyac Family Clinic.

    http://www.popepaulvi.com/

    http://www.tepeyacfamilycenter.com/

    With the financial and moral backing of the Church, these could be expanded to include family practice clinics. The CMA could offer catastrophic insurance for major health problems

    http://www.cathmed.org/issues_resources/publications/press_releases/statement_on_health_care_reform/

    In a distributivist type solution, the CMA is forming a guild of Catholic Physicians

    http://www.cathmed.org/assets/files/San%20Antonio%20Catholic%20Times,%20July%203,%202009,%20Page%2012.pdf

    It’s high time the Church step up to the plate and meet the needs of CATHOLICS and stop it’s incestuous compromise with the godless government.

    On another note – the root of the never ending rises in the cost of health care is the corrupt (and unconstitutional) monopoly of the Federal Reserve of creating money out of thin air and lending it to the government AT INTEREST. End the Fed and and start issuing DEBT FREE money by the government and you will have a great start on solving many of the nations problems – not just health care.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “it is not charity to provide for the indolent.”

    Who are these multitudes of indolent people that some are worried about?

    We can’t be talking about people who have lost their jobs through the fluctuation of the economy and are having a hard time finding work. Should I die from a treatable illness because the job market is competitive right now?

    A person who is manifestly slothful is one thing. But we are talking about making health care affordable for people who generally work when they can.

    “Charity born of a government program backed up by force is theft.”

    Then please take this up with the Vatican, which has promulgated a social teaching for the last 120 years that has made quite clear that there is a role for the government to play in providing services to people who need them the most.

    We can’t criticize liberals for rejecting the sexual teachings and liturgical traditions of the Church if we are not willing to acknowledge and respect the social tradition of the Church.

    Paragraph 166 of the Compendium lists “basic health care” as a part of the “common good”. Of the common good, paragraph 168 states:

    “The responsibility for attaining the common good, besides falling to individual persons, belongs also to the State, since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists”

    This may not establish health care as a “right”, but it does make clear that there IS a legitimate role for the state to play. If we have an obligation to serve the common good, we have an obligation to do what is within our power, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity of course, to ensure that everyone who needs health care has genuine access to it.

    “Medical services are not a right, they are a market good. Medical services are subject to the economic Law of Scarcity and the free market pricing system, which is a function of supply and demand. No one has a RIGHT to any product of the market. We have a right TO the MARKET not to what is in the market.”

    That is your opinion, and you are certainly entitled to it, but I submit that there is nothing in the teachings of the Church that mandates such a view. As people are often fond of saying, this is a matter of prudential judgment.

    It is manifest that the market cannot/does not/will not provide health care to all people. The clear teaching of the Church is that the state has a legitimate role in promoting the common good, within reasonable boundaries.

    Therefore I find the tone and content of your objections to be entirely in error. Libertarian political philosophy is not Catholic political thought. Neither, for that matter, is socialism.

    The burden here is really on you to demonstrate how and why, as a Catholic, you can so adamantly reject the clear teaching of the Church. And please keep in mind that I do not say that the Church DEMANDS state involvement, but that it finds it morally PERMISSIBLE within certain limits. That is the only argument here.

  • R.C. says:

    While it is true that “those who do not work, ought not to eat,” there is a problem with stating that this produces no entitlement to health care (as opposed to what everyone agrees on, which is access to health care):

    While some poverty in the U.S. results from the relative fecklessness and laziness of some of the U.S. poor**, not all of it does; and anyway we can never attribute it to fecklessness and laziness when the patient is a minor. Where poverty is not the fault of bad decision-making, we’re obligated to conclude that a reasonable amount of provision is *due* to the poor man by virtue of his intrinsic human dignity, and even bad decision-making does not eliminate this entirely.

    This is demonstrated by the Aquinas moral dilemma in which a poor man is judged justified in taking bread, without permission, from the table of a rich man if (a.) he would starve without it, (b.) the rich man has refused him through a disordered attachment to goods, (c.) there are no other, more-lawful means to obtain sustenance. He must pay back the rich man if he ever has the means to do so, but he can even take the bread if he isn’t likely EVER to have the needs, inasmuch as this represents an emergency situation, and a need requiring defense of innocent life.

    I’m quick to note that government’s just authority is delegated to it by the people, and that it is therefore impossible that it should properly possess any authority which persons cannot first possess in themselves. (Secondly, persons must delegate that authority lawfully to a government; e.g. through the grants of enumerated powers in the U.S. Constitution. Any powers not so delegated are retained by the people, as expressed in Amendment X.)

    So I agree with those who say that, normally, government has no authority to tax for the purpose of redistributing wealth. They cannot possibly have such authority, because taxation is a forcible taking, and no Person X has just authority to forcibly take from Person Y to redistribute Y’s property to Person Z.

    Since X has no such just authority, neither can any employee of his, including those employees we call government.

    (This argument is part-and-parcel of the argument that human dignity, part of which is man’s authority to defend innocent persons by force, comes from God. Those who hold that governments can have authority which was not plausibly delegated to them by persons, are necessarily adhering to a different view; normally, the view that “rights” are not merely protected by the state, but actually created and granted by the state.)

    In any event, this is all very pertinent to health care. Here’s why:

    The Church teaches us that each person has what is his “due”: What is lawfully his, even if the fallible economic systems of the world didn’t happen to get it into his hands yet. He is entitled to his “due”; he can in fact take it (as in the Aquinas example above); and other persons can take it on his behalf if he himself is unable.

    This kind of thing makes the blood of liberty-loving folk run cold at first hearing: “But that’s mad! People will go about stealing and claiming it’s their due!” But that fear, while understandable, neglects the prerequisites for justified taking spelled out by Aquinas.

    In fact Aquinas doesn’t require an absolute life-threatening last-minute emergency before the poor man may justly take bread…but he envisions something pretty close. He also envisions a situation where the poor man’s need is individual and self-evident…the kind of need where the rich man’s refusal to give bread is obviously only stemming from a disordered attachment to goods. He also envisions a poor man who is innocent in his pennilessness, not one who blew his life savings on dope or a kickin’ car stereo. He envisions a man taking enough bread to keep him fit and healthy — as in, fit and healthy for work — but not enough to sustain him indefinitely. And Aquinas clearly envisions this as an unusual circumstance, not something normative; something to be accounted for as an exception to the rule.

    Now if a poor man’s “due” is that he may obtain from others, without their consent, that which he needs to continue a healthy existence, not normally but in rare instances of need, when it is through no fault of his own, then we can reason that he may authorize his employees to assist him in the taking; and that we may authorize our employees to assist in the taking.

    In short, there is a role in which we may (not necessarily must) authorize government takings to ensure that, say, no-one is turned away from an emergency room merely because they can’t pay. Since this falls within the authority of persons, it can plausibly fall within the authority of government.

    BUT,

    …notice the limitations. There really isn’t any plausible warrant for government providing health insurance through forcible takings (i.e. taxation). For with insurance we are speaking of an ongoing normal provision. This would be like setting up a small standing army to steal bread from the rich whenever a poor fellow got hungry, and even including poor fellows whose poverty was entirely their own darned fault.

    I am sensitive to the need for preventative care; I am sensitive to the need for cost-control; and I acknowledge that the above argument can’t plausibly be applied to children, for whom “own fault” is not applicable.

    Still, all of this is to say:

    (1.) There are two categories of property-transfers to poor people. The first is the poor man’s “due,” which stems from his intrinsic human dignity; failure to provide it is a violation of his rights. The second is that which is above and beyond the poor man’s “due,” which he is given as “alms” out of the generosity of those with more. Not giving alms is a no violation of the poor man’s rights, though it may reflect a disordered attachment to goods on behalf of the person who does not give.

    (2.) Governments are established among men to defend the rights of persons, deriving their just authority through a process of delegation by the consent of the governed. A person has no just authority to compel alms, but a person does have just authority to use force in defense of the rights of an innocent. This latter authority can be delegated to government.

    (3.) This is not to say that the latter authority always HAS been delegated in the case of a particular government. In the United States, some state governments have obtained just that authority. The Federal Government has not, inasmuch as it is not enumerated in the U.S.Constitution, and Amendment X specifies that authority not delegated is reserved “to the states or to the people.” Therefore, in the U.S., enforcement of the poor man’s minimal emergency rights to health care is the responsibility of the states, where so empowered.

    (4.) This is not to say that the U.S. Federal Government should not be so empowered. Perhaps it should. But that requires an Amendment.

    (5.) In any case, Aquinas shows us that the limitations of the poor man’s “due” are pretty strict. There is no warrant for any person (and therefore, no warrant for any government) to compel others to give the poor man more than his due, and thus, no warrant to use state compulsion to set up an entirely taxpayer-funded health-care system.

    (6.) The sole plausible exceptions to (5.) are children and those who are sufficiently elderly that they can’t possibly work enough to obtain health care normally. Denying them some kind of access to reduced-price or free health care would not be an application of “who does not work, ought not eat,” but rather a denying of their rights.

    Accordingly I have several times detailed Health Savings Account based plans over at the InsideCatholic forums, with some degree of “government matching” for contributions made by low-income folks to help them build up their HSA’s more quickly…and in all such plans I have detailed graduated levels of government provision for minor children and the very elderly. No such plan is perfect, but they’re a darned sight closer to Catholic faithfulness, not to say overall lawfulness, than much of what is proposed in the U.S. these days.

    Go take a look, if you find the topic of interest.

    ** The statement marked with asterisks, above, is not my opinion, but rather the opinion of Eastern-Bloc poor persons observing conditions in America’s inner cities in the 1990′s, who expressed astonishment at the unused advantages therein. “I came expecting to see poverty and injustice, and saw little but laziness” is the quote. And when I used the term “certain segments,” I cringed, because in the current toxic environment, I am sure someone will regard it as code for some racial group or other. It is not; it is intended solely to express that the observation applies only to some, but certainly not to all, of the poor in the U.S. That some folk refuse to help themselves is obviously true; that other folk are down-and-out through no fault of their own is also true. It is sometimes hard to sort out who is who, and as in criminal cases, we ought to judge a person innocent until proven guilty.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    R.C.,

    Where did you come from!?

    Nice to see you here. And thank you for this detailed post.

    I’m going to disagree with your point about taxation for the purposes of redistributing wealth. This has never been declared immoral by the Church, and has in many cases been promoted by the Church.

    Of course it has to be done within reason and the burden on citizens cannot be too great, and the tax revenues, it goes without saying, must be used in a morally acceptable way – meaning no funding for anti-life policies.

    But our individual duty to contribute to the common good includes the paying of taxes that may and probably will be redistributed in some fashion, not simply as handouts to the poor (that is ONE kind of redistribution) but any number of ways.

  • R.C. says:

    Hi, Joe!

    I noticed your quote:

    We can’t criticize liberals for rejecting the sexual teachings and liturgical traditions of the Church if we are not willing to acknowledge and respect the social tradition of the Church.

    This is entirely true! But keep in mind what we should expect in terms of variation of opinion among Catholics as to how Teaching X is best put into practice.

    (This is a part of that whole “let’s do this charitably” thing referred to earlier in these comments!)

    With respect to sexual teachings and teaching on abortion, we have the benefit of extremely clearly defined teachings about what is and is not wrong, and topics where the entire subject matter falls entirely in the realm of moral expertise with only minimal need to refer to medical expertise — and then on topics where medical expertise is solely about determining the facts of a particular case, which can be done with absolute certainty.

    With respect to economic systems and the legislative responsibility of governments on health care, we have a different situation. We know the moral intent, but the best methodology for obtaining it is a matter of economics and of systems of incentives and so on, and ranges quickly outside the charism of Magisterial infallibility in Faith and Morals into law and economics, where experts don’t often agree.

    It is therefore reasonable to expect Catholic unanimity and Catholic loudness, on such topics as abortion. Unanimity is reasonable because the teaching is crystal-clear: Any direct abortion is the violation of the child’s right to life. Loudness is reasonable because (a.) it’s about a right to LIFE, which if denied results in an immediate and irrevocable KILLING, and (b.) since there are no instances of direct abortion which are justified, there’s no risk that in being loud one might “go too far” and accuse someone of evil when that particular abortion was actually “justified.” The complete impossibility of “justification” in the case of direct abortion makes it easier to speak without fear of misspeaking.

    But these economic and health care and welfare matters are different. They offer us few instances where we are infallibly told “X is always wrong in all circumstances, for all persons, and if the law says otherwise it’s automatically an unjust law.” No, on these matters we encounter a welter of contradictory concerns: What is morally required? What is optional? What is morally required as an individual choice, but not morally required to be compelled by the state? How do changes in technology and normal lifestyle alter what a man is “due?” Is he still “due” in modern America exactly what he was “due” in 7th-century Europe? If so, then he already has it; but if not, then how much has the threshold increased? What formula tells us? Who has authority to set such a formula, since it goes outside the Magisterial authority of the Church into areas of other expertise?

    …and so on.

    We should exercise with one another the charity you pleaded for earlier. That’s a general rule!

    But in this case, we should be especially ready to encounter differences of opinion, without accusing one another of faithlessness with respect to Church teaching…since we have SO MUCH more leeway WITHIN Church teaching, on these matters, than we have in those other areas (sexual mores, abortion).

    So be cautious about the observation that, “These folk SAY they’re faithful to Catholic teaching because they’re all loud about Pro-Life and Contraception…but they don’t agree with me about state-funded health insurance.” That isn’t very likely to be the mark of hypocrisy. More likely, it’s the mark of how differently, in specificity and confidence, those two categories of teaching are articulated by the Church.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    R.C.,

    You have a legitimate point.

    However, I must point out that the social tradition of the Church is a body of literature which is vast and which contains many recurring themes.

    Secondly, I will also point out that what is sometimes in question here is not mere methodology, but, as I think American Knight’s comments show in part, whether or not there is any role at all for the state to play in providing for the common good. On that question, the Church’s teaching is unambiguous – there is a role.

    The latest encyclical makes that abundantly clear. Our task is to find the balance between opposite extremes, not to push towards one at the expense of the other. I can’t say its sinful to not even try and do this, but I can say it demonstrates a sort of rebellious and stubborn attitude towards Church authority.

    The issue may not be as GRAVE as abortion, or any number of issues, but the SPIRIT of the objections is very similar. The attitude and tone is similar.

    Finally,

    I don’t think I have been uncharitable here – you said yourself that what you quoted of mine was true.

    So why exactly do you feel the need to lecture me on charity?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Ok. I am going to nod off for the evening.

    I hope charitable discussion continues here.

    If however I see a post that I think is manifestly uncharitable, I will delete it as soon I get up and check the post. So, if you have nothing but a volley of insults and accusations, don’t bother posting. I will delete it.

    I do however welcome respectful criticism. Pretend that your mother, instead of me, is the author of this post. You may not always agree with mom, but would you talk to her like you do a random stranger on the Internet?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Also, JB,

    I got your message via email.

    I am always VERY interested in distributist solutions; I just wasn’t sure how they would apply to the health care problem.

    So anything you might be able to offer in the way of a distributist answer to the health care problem would be greatly appreciated.

  • R.C. says:

    Joe:

    Whoa, I’m sorry, I must have said something wrong, or unclearly. You got me totally wrong, insofar as I was NOT “lecturing you on charity.” I did not, and I see no reason I should have.

    The only reason I was referring back to your earlier comment about charity, was to AGREE with it (a sort of expression solidarity with the “lets be charitable”).

    I then wished to make note of the qualitative difference between the sexual and abortion and certain other teachings of the church with respect to our ability to discern what was, and what was not, in accord with them, and those on the economic justice and health care topic…and show that this difference gave us YET ANOTHER reason to be charitable to each other, when discussing this particular topic.

    Your tone has been fine by me. There are others who, I think, have painted those of us who lean libertarian or economically conservative as being heathens for not agreeing with them on the health care matter, and hypocritical for disagreeing while at the same time being loud about abortion. It is these folk who need to acknowledge both the qualitative difference in the teachings and the need for charity.

    But you’re okay by me, as usual. Sorry it came across otherwise.

  • JB says:

    The most distributive solution (IMHO) would be health care coops. This was offered as an alternative by a Democrat and was immediately poo-poo’d and dismissed by the leadership as a “gimmick”.

    I believe that this is due to two things primarily;

    1. The “left-right-conservative-liberal” false dichotomy that was entrenched during the Cold War.

    2. The associated mindset that “if it’s not capitalism – it’s socialism”.

    I have been presenting dsitributivist ideas in the forums at 4Marks and I am repeatedly attacked as a left wing commie (if they only knew – I am retired military and a recovering neocon). If anything other than more of the status quo is presented – it is dismissed as “crazy”. People just don’t realize
    a. That the Church has a body of teaching that addresses social justice
    b. They are defending the indefensible – the system has already failed (financial and health care)

    Just do a simple Google search on “Health Care Coops” and you will fins a plethora of information.

    As I failed to mention in my first post – I believe those family clinics could be formed at the diocese/parish level under the umbrella of the Church (much like the Catholic Hospitals of old).

    The Bishops Conference has a long incestuous history of shedding it’s Catholic identity to cozy up with the government (i.e. Catholic Charities, ACORN etc). I say it’s time to make a stand and parish/diocesan family clinics would be a great way to start – if they only had the cahoona’s to stand up for what we profess to believe, and we don’t need their “permission” to do it.

  • American Knight says:

    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

    That was Abraham Lincoln – he wasn’t Catholic and don’t think he was a particularly good president but when you’re right, you’re right.

    Hargrave (JH): “Who are these multitudes of indolent people that some are worried about?

    We can’t be talking about people who have lost their jobs through the fluctuation of the economy and are having a hard time finding work. Should I die from a treatable illness because the job market is competitive right now?”

    I am worried about them. God gave us work so that we can be sanctified through our work, offering it up to him. Indolence is a problem. In fact, sloth is one of the deadly sins.

    Losing one’s job and losing one’s medical insurance are not the same thing. It is true that most people get their medical insurance from their employer but it doesn’t have to be that way. Additionally, those of us blessed to have means are more than willing to pay the premiums, make loans, or take any other action we feel necessary to help those facing difficulties, but that is a personal choice. I take the commandments of my Lord seriously. I still fail far too often to keep them. But I try and that is a choice, my success is His Grace – this is true for all of us.

    Furthermore, I don’t know of a single hospital that denies anyone medical services if the need is acute and if the provider can afford it. Of course too much of the ‘free’ medical care and the hospital or medical service provider goes broke and then no one gets medical care. That is not justice, social or otherwise.

    JH: “Paragraph 166 of the Compendium lists “basic health care” as a part of the “common good”. Of the common good, paragraph 168 states:

    “The responsibility for attaining the common good, besides falling to individual persons, belongs also to the State, since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists”

    I don’t have the Compendium handy at the moment so I will respond off the cuff – please forgive any factual errors, they are not intended. The Compendium is NOT an infallible document even though it draws from some that are. I agree that health care is part of the common good. Especially if health care is actually meant to be medical care, which is the more appropriate term. Who said the common good was from the government? Government is inefficient and ineffective at almost everything it does, well except killing people especially babies; however, I don’t think any reasonable individual would say that is good, sadly it is common, but not good.

    As for the reference (168) that the State has responsibility. I am not an anarcho-capitlalist nor am I a libertarian (small l). I think certain principles called libertarian are certainly correct; however, libertarian thought as a whole is too libertine for me. The state has a responsibility to ensure adherence to and enforcement of contracts. A medical insurance policy is a contract. If the insurance company tries to violate it they are to be brought to justice in a court of the State – in our country that is a state or a commonwealth and in certain cases it may involve federal courts; however the feds should be left out of it as often as possible (subsidiarity, federalism). Also, on a local level, very, very local certain people will need to be provided for out of the public treasury IF the market (assuming it is truly FREE) and charitable institutions and individuals cannot provide. This would include the mentally insane and other extreme and rare situations. In a truly free society I doubt that too many of these cases will actually occur. Of course, providing for the FUNDING of medical services for veterans would be highly desired and accepted by a moral citizenry. So, yes, the state has a role but it is very, very limited and specific. I think if we actually tried freedom with severely limited government we may be surprised what that unleashed creativity will provide as a social benefit for the common good.

    The Church is to teach us how to get to Heaven. The Church does not teach us how to order our lives together in the political order. Policy is determined by the human construct called the state within the accepted parameters of the consent of the governed. The Church informs our conscience and we are to learn how to apply that to policy. America is supposed to be a Constitutional Republic not a Socialist Democracy. The Church is a Kingdom and her King is perfect. The comparison is unfair because America will always fail compared to the Church. Our morality must inform our politics but the politics must provide for broad freedom that is mostly limited by Church teaching NOT government force.

    Joe, let me be clear. I think government has a role in protecting the market of all goods, including medical care, but the government is force and force must be restrained else it tempts men to behave contrary to authentic human nature because of the Fall. Behind corrupt government are principalities and powers that are not flesh and blood. Our first concern as Catholics in the political order must be to restrain the power of government and the temptation of the will to power.

  • American Knight says:

    Right on. The evil, private, transnational Federal Reserve System banking cartel IS the primary reason for increased health care and medical costs as well as a host of other ills. This is even worse than the trial lawyers who own the Demoncrats.

    Lending is a market service and the cost to the borrower is interest. A fair interest as determined by the market. What the Fed does is alchemy and then sells the no cost manufactured money to the US Treasury and the Congressional critters AT USURIOUS interest, which they turn around and service through our taxes. Our taxes do NOT pay for so-called services; our taxes service the debt, which is designed not to be paid off – ever.

    Inflation of the money supply is theft. This is one moral teaching the Church cannot and does not get wrong. One of the few times Christ showed anger and acted violently was with the money lenders in His Father’s Temple.

    Tying these two important topics together is a keen insight JB. Thanks for bringing it up. For those of you who may not know about this mess do your research. An academic discussion about medical insurance and government’s role is fine, but the root of the problem is monetary. The root of all evil is the LOVE of money. The Banksters at the Fed love money and they hate free people, they want slaves.

    Let my people go!

  • American Knight says:

    The Fed AKA the Monster from Jekyl Island, needs to die. If we can get rid of it before it reaches 100 years of theft, destruction and death then maybe we can enjoy evicting it and the most pro-abortion president in one fell swoop.

    Now that is health care we can all agree on :)

  • Eric Brown says:

    “Furthermore, I don’t know of a single hospital that denies anyone medical services if the need is acute and if the provider can afford it.”

    Not in Texas. There are cases where other hospitals won’t use their advanced treatment on “futile cases” because the patient is only avoiding an “inevitable” death, so even if the money is there, it does not guarantee access. It’s a current concern of Texas Right to Life, so I’m pretty sure it’s a problem and I know Virginia has an identical law — and other statements have various other, many unacceptable law in regard to “futile cases.”

  • JB says:

    I didn’t mean to hijack the discussion, but I truly believe the Fed is “the root of all evil”. In 1913 a dollar was worth a dollar – today it is worth 4 CENTS due to the devaluation of the dollar caused by Fed monetary policy. THAT is why health care and everything else continues to rise in price. It is a Ponzi scheme that makes Bernie Madoff look like a street thug.

    If that isn’t at the top of the list of what need to be fixed – then everything else (IMHO) is just “hacking at the leaves” – including distributivism.

    On Sep 25th the House Banking Committee is holding hearings to audit the Fed under HR 1207 introduced by Ron Paul. The Senate also has a bill S. 604 under consideration as well. The Senate is where the resistance will come from – write/call your Senators (and Reps) and tell them to support these bills !

    http://www.auditthefed.com/

  • Eric Brown says:

    I hardly ever agree with libertarians on anything because I think so much of the philosophy of that particular political theory is born out of Enlightenment thinking with its radical and false anthropology and I cannot see how many tenets reconcile with Catholics, but…I absolutely and unequivocally support abolishing the Federal Reserve as well as the IRS. Kill the Reserve and support the FairTax!

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

    That was Abraham Lincoln – he wasn’t Catholic and don’t think he was a particularly good president but when you’re right, you’re right.”

    Actually AK he was a magnificent President and without him there wouldn’t be a United States today, but two or more squabbling petty states, assuming they hadn’t been conquered by foreign aggressors in the last century. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the quotation you cite, but they are not Lincoln’s words.

    http://jeffsbusiness.com/leadership/ten-cannots-quote-by-william-j-h-boetcker/

  • American Knight says:

    Eric, I may have mistyped my sentence. I used the word hospital and I meant independent medical service provider. To my knowledge people who enter the medical profession do it becuase it is a calling and they have a conviction to heal. Surgeons and dentists may be the exception but I wonder how much that has to do with the cartelization of their professions and government distrotion of the market.

    Thanks for correcting me.

  • American Knight says:

    Eric their are librtatians and their are libertarians it is quite a broad group. Like I stated before, far too many are libertines what with the drugs, prostitution and anarcho-capitalists. Like all ideology, even those with nuggets of truth, it falls apart becuase it doesn’t account for fallen human nature. If we were perfect, anarchy would be fine, we’re not we need boundries – human freedom is broad but it has limits. When those limits come from God – great; when they come from other men, watch out!

    One aspect of ‘libertarian thought’ in economics is the Austrian School and their economics are sound. The line of thinking goes back to developements made by the late Spanish Scholastics. It is quite in line with the Catholic Church becuase our Church is about FREEDOM, where the libertarians lose it is when the lean too far into license and permissiveness.

  • American Knight says:

    Whoops! Thanks for catching that misquote Donald. Blame Fr. Corapi for that one. I took note of the quote at his conference on the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life. I’d be careful when I approach him though – he can be ornary :)

    The Internet is great, but it also often propogates error.

    Nevertheless, the words are right.

    As for Lincoln being a great President some of us down here in the warmer easter part of the country would disagree. I appreciate his identifying the money power as a major factor in the war but he had no right to invade a sovriegn country.

    It seems the Pope agreed and sent President Jefferson Davis a crown of thorns he wove himself when Davis was imprisoned by the invading Yankees.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    No sweat AK. I’ve seen the same quote attributed to Lincoln appearing in Illinois courthouses! This is a case where the quote has been floating around since 1916 and lots of sources cite it in innocent error.

    As to the Late Unpleasantness, you will see my views amply set forth in many posts on this blog. I agree with the late Shelby Foote, a historian of the first magnitude and a Southerner by the grace of God, that it was a good thing that the Union was preserved and slavery ended, and that Southerners fought with unsurpassed courage for a cause they thought right. As Grant acknowledged in his memoirs, never had men fought harder than the Southerners.

  • JB says:

    American Knight said:

    “One aspect of ‘libertarian thought’ in economics is the Austrian School and their economics are sound. The line of thinking goes back to developments made by the late Spanish Scholastics.”

    I’m certainly no economist, but I do know that the folks at Distributivist Review would take issue with that statement. See:

    “Dr. Thomas Woods Jr. in the Dock” at

    http://distributism.blogspot.com/2009/01/while-engaged-in-discussion-over.html

    Peter Chojnowski’s “Corporation Christendom: The True School of Salamanca”

    http://drchojnowski.blogspot.com/2004/12/corporation-christendom-true-school-of.html

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    American Knight,

    You say,

    “The Church is to teach us how to get to Heaven. The Church does not teach us how to order our lives together in the political order.”

    Then why does it have a social doctrine? I submit that the Church does in fact teach us how to do exactly that.

    As for the list of “you cannot”s, its nothing but a list of strawmen. If one is to equate one’s moral and legal duty to contribute to the common good – through the payment of taxes, among other things – with theft and destruction, one is an anarchist and a “libertine”. There is absolutely no support for this notion anywhere in the body of Catholic social thought.

    Nor is the state limited to contract enforcement. The Church and several Popes have spoken in one clear voice: the market cannot provide everything. That doesn’t mean the state is to directly provide those things which the market cannot, but it can at the least subsidize the operation of non-profits and other organizations that do provide them.

    See my views on wealth redistribution in Catholic social thought here:

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/redistribution-of-wealth-a-catholic-perspective/

    Finally, I would caution against this extreme identification of Catholic morality with “FREEDOM”. As Pope Benedict has made perfectly clear in his latest encyclical, rights must be balanced with duties, and rights without duties are indulgences. He has criticized what many Americans hold to be their “right to excess”, a right to unlimited consumption while so much of the rest of the world goes without. This goes beyond what I think of as the excess of the ‘libertine’, that is, in sexual matters.

    There is no freedom without responsibility, no right without duty, no liberty without a genuine order. These responsibilities and duties and this order are almost never present in libertarianish thought. But they are there in Catholic thought.

    None of this is to say that I believe in a regime of high taxes and bureaucracy! Far from it. But I do believe (as does the Church, clearly and unambiguously) that every citizen has a moral and legal obligation to contribute financially to the common good through the payment of taxes, that it is not immoral for tax revenues to be used in a way that will benefit everyone (only a very small handful of people are able but not willing to lift a finger to work).

    Public money does not always = bureaucracy. It can just as easily subsidize private operations. That is why I brought up the Dutch system of health care. You have private health care providers in competition with one another, but the poorest of poor have their care subsidized by the government. This basic idea is the right one, and the one we ought to concentrate on trying to make work.

    This is for JB too,

    I would also like to see distributist solutions come into the picture. Health-care cooperatives sound like a great idea, but I need to learn more. At this point I don’t even believe, however, that the industrial cooperatives I am in favor of could take over the whole economy; even the ambitious Employee Ownership Act would have only shot for 30% of businesses becoming half owned by workers within 10 years of its passage.

    So the move to distributism is a transition that takes time. In the meantime, the private-public alternative still strikes be as the best plan with the best of both systems.

  • American Knight says:

    I am thankful to Almighty God that the Union was preserved. I am distraught over the kind of Union we have. It used to be a Constitutional Republic with a limited federal authority and has been transformed into an immoral Democracy on its way to atheistic totalitarianism — but we need not fail in this battle, in any event we win the war.

    Nevertheless, despite his successes and good points overall I’d give Lincoln a bad grade. Of course, I have not walked in his shoes so take that opinion for what its worth.

    As for the comment about Thomas Woods, who is a faithful Catholic and whose work I read and enjoy. I agree with him, I don’t see the classical liberal view (as regards fiscal economics) to be incompatible with the Church.

    I think in reference to fiscal economics and this so-called health care debate too that we often make the mistake of confusing orders. Orders, as in the moral order, the social order and the economic order do certainly overlap; however, there is a distinction (often blurred by the Enemy). The Popes and the Magesterium can be wrong. Remember Infallibility is a negative power. It does not guarantee correctness. In His Wisdom the Holy Spirit leaves men’s wills free and He guarantees that Popes and the Magesterium CANNOT make an error in matters of faith and morals – not fiscal economics.

    Note I am not ignoring the moral dimension of economics. I doubt that any serious orthodox Catholic, myself, Dr. Woods, etc. would assert that Austrian economics or any other school of human thought would state that the ‘morality’ of economics is higher than the Church. The Church teaching regarding the moral dimension is not to be questioned only the application. Fiscal economics is the application of morally neutral methods to the material aspect of human life. By morally neutral I mean that certain methods are not good or bad in the moral sense it is how you apply them that matters. On purely moral matters the Church trumps all.

    For example. The Church, rightly, tells us to take care of the poor. Socialism professes to take care of the poor – that is a lie because in the fiscal economic order socialism is detrimental to the poor. So although socialism professes to be for the poor we cannot support socialism in any form because it yields the opposite result of what the Church teaches.

    Free market capitalism is all about capital, and greed and profit. While that may be true, a free market of moral actors, acting freely will actually unleash wealth, provide innovation, make distribution more efficient and lift up the poor from poverty. We should support a free market and governments must be charged with the protection of free markers because that is the best way to help the poor.

    Will there be crooks and criminals and immoral people in a free market? Of course, but that doesn’t mean the market is bad. The market disperses power and is ordered by the invisible hand of Divine Providence. All socialist systems consolidate power and unless the power is consolidated in the hands of a good, just and moral authority it will lead to perdition, especially for the poor and disenfranchised. This side of eternity does not offer a perfectly good, just and moral authority, which is why all collectivist systems are slavery for all about a few or one. The easiest way, other than behind the scenes monetary manipulation to control people as slaves, often willing slaves, is to control their health through their food supply and medical care, which is where this discussion started – with the government’s grab at controlling more of the people’s health care than it already does – this includes determining who lives and who dies. What happens to the handicapped, mentally retarded, unproductive and the pre-born of an out-of-favor class, say Catholics or Jews in a socialistic system? How can we square that with Church teaching? Perhaps we can try a little bit of socialism because in small doses it is helpful – that’s absurd!

    So in conclusion of this unnecessarily long rant (please accept my apologies I don’t edit well) we have to keep in mind that in matters of faith and morals the Church teaching is supreme because He Who has revealed it is Truth itself. The practical application of that teaching is our work, that is our part, that is what we have to offer in, with and through Him for Him and beg Him to guide us. In order for Him to reign in us, we have to choose Him. In order to freely choose Him, we have to be, well, free. Free to worship (in thought, word, deed, work, economics, etc.) without fear, without fear and without coercion. Government is coercion. Restrained government does not allow men’s sin to tempt the officials to seek greater power because it isn’t there. Will that mean the market place or even the society is moral? Of course not, that is up to each member of the Mystical Body to seek – freely.

    Free market capitalism; limited constitutional republican (in form, not party) government and religious freedom allow us to live for Him, or not. Collectivism, no matter how small a quantity stands against that freedom to choose. Remember God allowed Adam and Eve to choose to eat from the tree – he could have prevented them, but what would be the point? If we are not free to choose then we can’t choose good, we can’t choose to Love and obey God for His own sake. In matters of economics if I can’t choose to starve the poor, then how do I choose to feed them?

  • American Knight says:

    Joe,

    If it is incumbent on us to pay taxes for the common good then how did the Republic promote the common good prior to the 16th amendment?

    What makes you think that a government not following the Magesterium even knows what the common good is?

    Why is there still no law mandating the payment of income taxes?

    Why do over 60% (and rising to 100% soon) of our collected taxes only service the debt of the usurers?

    How is that promoting the common good?

    Do you think the dept. of edu., EPA, FDA, and a myriad of other programs and agencies promote common good as defined by the Church?

    Government is fire, a fierce friend and a terrible foe, I am paraphrasing George Washington. Government is neither good nor bad — it is what we use it for that determines its moral direction. We are currently using government to promote sloth and decadence, entitlements and division, not to mention a genocidal holocaust of such a massive scale we have never seen anything like it before. Even The Flood didn’t take out as many human beings. How is that common good?

    America is a less moral nation than she has ever been. America has more ‘catholics’ than she ever has. America’s government is bigger than it has ever been. Americans are less free than they have ever been. America is in more debt that she has ever been in. More babies are murdered than ever. The Federal Reserve is more powerful than ever. Our leadership (across the board) is worse than it has ever been.

    I see a pattern. Do you?

    By their fruits you shall know them. The fruits of paper currency, taxes, the IRS, socialized health care (Medicare, Medicaid, and the new plan to get the rest of it), collectivist communist ideology masked as liberal or progressive, bigger government, etc. is NOT WHAT I CALL COMMON GOOD.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    You guys are funny. Arguing over what an imaginary being would judge things, and actually spouting off as if you speak for him. Hee….

    It makes me laugh.

  • American Knight says:

    Joe, I am glad we can entertain you.

    Just to be clear. I doubt anyone here thinks we speak for God. We speak for Love of God. We hope to listen to Him and perhaps have Him speak through us, but it would be hubris to state that we speak for Him.

    I find it sad that you think God is an imaginary being. He is reality itself, else how do you explain everything? Chance?

    It must be so dull to live in the world you’ve imagined and imprisoned yourself in. It takes some amazing imagination and mental gymnastics to convince yourself that reality is only sense-perceptible. In your dull world of five senses I am glad that we provide entertainment for you.

    If our entertainment gets you thinking about God, there may be hope for you yet.

    I wonder what inspired you to visit a blog entitled American CATHOLIC?

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “It makes me laugh.”

    No Joe you aren’t amused. My guess is that blind hatred is what you feel, hence your acting as a troll. That’s all right. God exists no matter your emotional or intellectual state and He loves you. God, literally, knows why.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    All evidence of ‘god’ is from the bible which is nothing more than a 2000-4000 year old book of jewish fairy tales, that can easily be proven false by scientific method or even the smallest amount of common sense. Soon people will look at the judeo-christian god the same way we look at Thor and Zeus.

    Even if you take away the provably false, the 4 gospels of your jesus contradict each other and tell 4 completely different stories with only the similar basic outline.

    SO, in review, yes you entertain me. I pity all you shall miss in this world, and all the real relationships you will miss or will drive away for your imaginary friend.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Lie to us if you wish Joe, but it is truly pathetic when a man lies to himself. Your comments about the Bible also indicate you have little knowledge of it.

    “I pity all you shall miss in this world, and all the real relationships you will miss or will drive away for your imaginary friend.”

    What on Earth are you talking about? I have a wife and three kids, numerous friends, and over 3000 clients in my law practice. How has my belief in God in anyway deterred me from having any relationship I choose to, including, I might add, friendships with atheists and agnostics?

  • JoeFromQC says:

    So is that what jesus would have you do in this debate?

    Belittle me? You are a true christian. :p

    Please point out my lies with proof that such statements are untrue please.

    I have read the bible many times.

    I was indoctrinated into your brainwashed world before I developed critical thinking skills. It’s sad that you are intelligent enough to pass the bar but still believe in Santa Claus.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    See how amused you are Joe. Judging from your last comment I assume you have hated religion and God for a very long time. What a waste.

    Jesus would have me stand for the truth Joe, and the truth about you is quite obvious.

    As for critical thinking skills Joe, your comment about the scientific method was illuminating. Science can neither prove nor disprove, by definition, the supernatural. If you really want to test your intellectual mettle, try reading some Aquinas or Augustine and then get back to me.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    To help you on your way Joe, here is a taste of Aquinas:

    “Commentary on the First Book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Distinction III, Question 1, Article 1.
    Whether God can be known by the created intellect.
    To the first article we proceed thus:
    Objections:

    It seems that God cannot be known by the created intellect. For Dionysius says in Chapter 1 of On the Divine Names, that we can neither say nor understand God, which the following proves. Knowledge is proportional to the existence thing. But God is above all existence. Therefore, He is above knowledge.
    Again, God is more distant from every existing intelligible thing known to us, than the intelligible is from the sensible. But sense cannot know the intelligible. Therefore, neither can God be known by our intellect.
    Again, all knowledge is through some species, through which information comes about by the assimilation of the knower to the thing known. But some species cannot be abstracted from God, since He is most simple. Therefore, He is not knowable.
    Again, as the Philosopher says in Book III of the Physics, every infinite thing is unknowable. The reason for this is that it belongs to the notion of the infinite that there (always) be something of the infinite outside of whatever was grasped, and such it is unknowable. But God is infinite. Therefore, He is unknowable.
    Again, the Philosopher says, in Book III of De Anima, that just as colors are related to sight, so phantasms are related to the intellect. But, corporeal sight sees nothing without color. Therefore, our intellect understands nothing without a phantasm. Since, therefore, a phantasm cannot be formed about God, as Isaiah 40: 18 says: “What image will you make for Him?” it seems that (God) is not knowable by our intellect.
    Contra:

    In Jeremiah 9: 24 it is said that “In this is he glorified who would be glorified, to know and understand Me.” But it is not vain glory to which God exhorts (us). Therefore, it seems that it is possible to know God.
    Again, as was said above, even according to the Philosopher, in Book X of the Ethics, Chapter 10, the ultimate end of human life is contemplation of God. If, therefore, man is not able to attain to this, in vain would he be constituted; because that is vain, according to the Philosopher in Book II of the Physics, which is directed to an end, but which does not attain it. And this not fiiting, as is said in Psalm 88: 48: “For how vainly you have made him.”
    Again, as the Philosopher says in book III of De Anima, in this does the intelligible differ from the sensible, that the intensly sensible destroys the sense; but the exceedingly intelligible does not destroy, but strengthens the intellect. Since, therefore, God is maximally intelligible insofar as He is in Himself (because He is the primary intelligible thing (primum intelligibile)), it seems that He can be understood by our intellect. For (the intellect) would not be impeded except by His excellence.
    Solution: I respond that it should be said that this is not the question whether God can be seen immediately in His essence, for this belongs to another discourse. The question is whether (God) can be known in any way at all. And so we say that God is knowable; not however that He is so knowable that His essence can be comprehended. Because every knower has the knowledge of the thing known, not according to the mode of the thing known, but according to the mode of the knower. The mode, however, of no creature attains to the height of the divine majesty. Wherefore, it is necessary that He is known by no creature perfectly, as He Himself knows Himself.

    Replies to Objections

    Just as God is not an existant according to this existence, but rather the nature of entity is eminently in Him, and so He is not in all ways devoid of entity; so even He is not in all ways devoid of knowledge that He may not be known. But He is not known by the mode of other existing things, which can be comprehended by the created intellect.
    Although God stands more distantly from every intelligible thing, according to the propriety of nature than the intelligible from the sensible, nevertheless, the notion of knowablity is more befitting to God. For everything that is separate from matter shares in this notion as far as it is known as intelligible. However, what is material is known as sensible.
    The species, through which cognition comes about, is in the knowing power according to the mode of that knower. Wherefore, the species of those things that are more material than (a pure) intellect is in the intellect more simply than in the things. And so, such are said to know through the mode of abstraction. However, God and the angels are more simple than our intellect, and so the species which are effected in our intellect through which they are known are less simple (than they are). Wherefore, we are not said to know them through abstraction, but through the impression of them on our intelligences.
    The infinite is said in two ways, namely, privitively and negatively. The privitive infinite is that which, according to its genus, is born to have an end but does not. And such a thing, since it is imperfect, owing to its imperfection is not perfectly knowable. The negative infinite is said of that which is no way finite; and this is something which extends itself to everything and is most perfect, not being fit to be comprehended by the created intellect, but only to be touched upon.
    The Philosopher, in Book III of De Anima, is speaking of the knowledge of the intellect which is connatural to us in this life. And in this way, God is not known by us except through the phantasm, not of Him Himself, but of His effects through which we come (to knowledge) of Him. But through this mode (the objection) is not removed unless the intellect were able to have some knowledge, not through the natural way, but (through) a higher (way), namely through the influence of divine light for which a phantasm is not necessary. The rest (of the objection) we concede.
    Nevertheless, to the last (contra), which concludes that God even now is maximally knowable by us, it should be responded that the intellect and the senses are in a certain way similar, and in a certain way dissimilar. They are similar in that just as sense cannot (know) that which is not proportional to itself, so neither can the intellect, since all knowledge comes about through the mode of the knower, according to Boethius in Consolation of Philosophy, Book V. However, they are dissimilar in that the extremely intelligible does not corrupt as the extremely visible does. Wherefore, the intellect does not fail in knowledge of the extremely intelligible because it is corrupted, but because it does not reach it. And so the created intellect cannot see God perfectly.”

  • JoeFromQC says:

    >>>See how amused you are Joe. Judging from your last comment I assume you have hated religion and God for a very long time. What a waste

    Well we all know what happens when people assume.

    >>>Jesus would have me stand for the truth Joe, and the truth about you is quite obvious.

    Once again you speak as if you speak For your little imaginary friend.

    >>>As for critical thinking skills Joe, your comment about the scientific method was illuminating. Science can neither prove nor disprove, by definition, the supernatural. If you really want to test your intellectual mettle, try reading some Aquinas or Augustine and then get back to me.

    Did you really pass the bar?? I’m starting to think you aren’t a lawyer, or at least one I wouldn’t hire. I never said scientific method could prove or disprove god. I did say it could disprove most of the bible.

    For example, you don’t really think the earth is supported by two great pillars do you???

    Also, you may be able to dazzle the ham-and-eggers on here, but quoting a few names doesn’t mean anything.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    As your last comment indicates Joe, you are simply consumed with anger and you have not the slightest interest in in reading or thinking about anything that might move you from your prejudices.

    As for being an attorney Joe, you have only to google my name. Unlike you I use my full name in blogging.

    Your comment about two pillars Joe demonstrates that you have zero understanding of the Bible. The Bible often uses metaphors and similies as the early Church Fathers and the rabbis before them understood.

    In regard to the scientific method Joe you said it could disprove the entire Bible. The Bible continually asserts the existence of God.

    As for the names I quoted Joe, Saints Augustine and Aquinas are two of the intellectual powerhouses of the culture you live in. You must be fairly ill-educated if you have never been exposed to their writings.

    Joe, being a troll is a waste of time. Time to release your anger and truly study about God. Rejecting something you obviously know little about is foolishness.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    >>>As your last comment indicates Joe, you are simply consumed with anger and you have not the slightest interest in thinking or reading anything that might move you from your prejudices.

    I’m concerned about your infatuation with anger. I have made no statements of anger. There is nothing that could convince me that the judeo-christrian-islam god exists. Just like nothing I read could convince me Zeus existed, or that bugs bunny existed, etc.

    >>>As for being an attorney Joe, you have only to google my name. Unlike you I use my full name in blogging.

    You know Fred Phelps is an attorney too right? Not to mention I can say I’m Leonardo DiCaprio on here and there’s no way to prove or disprove it.

    If you are from Dwight IL, you are someone who helps banks against the poor. Hardly a christian. It sounds like you could care less about passing a needle’s eye.

    >>>In regard to the scientific method Joe you said it could disprove the entire Bible. The Bible Joe continually asserts the existence of God.

    I never used the word entire. That word was inserted by you sir. Quit leading this witness.

    The bible says that the sun rotates the Earth. If it can’t get this simple fact right, why should I have any respect for any other ‘facts’ found inside??

    >>>As for the names I quoted Joe, Saints Augustine and Aquinas are two of the intellectual powerhouses of the culture you live in. You must be fairly ill-educated if you have never been exposed to their writings.

    Those people are only important in your small little world. Maybe if you were a philosophy student. Aquinas also is said to be able to levitate. So that sounds realistic.

    I have been formally educated sir, I am even a member of good standing in the church although I grew up long ago. Your attacks on my intelligence are sad.

    >>>Joe being a troll is a waste of time. Time to release your anger and truly study about God. Rejecting something you obviously no little about is foolishness.

    Freeing people of mindless devotion to the bogeyman is no waste of time. Also misspelling the word ‘know’ looks foolish too.

  • Mark Baird says:

    This is issue is simple black and white. Those that have do not want to give what they have because the “others” are just plain lazy and do not deserve.

  • Mark Baird says:

    The “others” are infected with a false conscience and are destroying all that is good in world. Follow us and we will protect you from the “others”. This same story has been told for thousands of years and will continue to be told. When we begin to fear the future we all pull back and grab the tree with the longest roots, our faith, our country, out ethnic identities, our “tribes”.

    This has killed more people in the world then any one idea.

  • TomSVDP says:

    JoeFromQC (Quebec City??) For whatever that means “10,000 words….”: here I see a healthy, erm, a healthy debate on healthcare reform.

    People have written down thought out answers. They have put a lot of effort into this.

    Let’s not pull the debate down with the ol’ “assume” cliche, keep it civil in respect to all readers here, In fact, so much is written here, I haven’t read it all and don’t know Joe as to that which you are addressing in full at leat. This web page looks like at least about 10 typed pages so I’m not trying to correct you in any way.

    You know what they say in the “Song of Bernadette”, “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible.”

    Lourdes France has webcams, I wish all Holy Shrines did, they are the only one that has them that I know of. It’d be nice to have live shots of Jerusalem, Bethelehem, Fatima, etc. They stopped making the Grotto webcam free probably because it’s like my friend who authored the “Lourdes at Notre Dame” articles on the web, it’s just like being there.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Ah, we have an atheist in the house.

    We really only have three options.

    1) We can believe in nothing. No good, no evil.

    2) We can believe in good and evil without having any rational basis for doing so.

    3) We can believe in good and evil on the assumption that all that exists emanates from a mind and a will that we typically call God.

    The vast majority of atheists, including myself when I was one, are stuck in option 2. All ethics premised on a random universe that inexplicably happens to exist have no rational basis whatsoever. A random universe has no ethics, no obligations, no categories – good and evil are completely and absolutely meaningless words.

    Some atheists, like the Marquis de Sade and Nietzsche, choose number 1. Both men were extremely brilliant and extremely mad, in a true and clinical sense.

    Option three is the only rational option. The struggle to find meaning in a meaningless universe is itself a meaningless endeavor. Eventually we all must ask ourselves, if we are committed to an honest life – how do I know what is good? How can goodness even exist as a real thing, independent of the human mind? How can my own search for meaning and goodness ever make sense?

    If we open ourselves up to God – which should be easier today than it was in the 19th century for those who worship empiricism and the scientific method, given the doubt that quantum mechanics has cast all over the materialist paradigm – then we find that thing for which we are clearly designed/evolved/created to seek.

    In other words, there is a God-shaped hole in the human essence, there is a hunger and a thirst that only God can quench. A hungry stomach would suggest to any evidence-based thinker at least the possibility of food. A hungry soul should likewise suggest the possibility of God. At a certain point it becomes far more irrational to insist that a thing for which man universally hungers does not and cannot exist.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    And, as this is my thread, I will tell EVERYONE to be civil.

    If I, an atheist apostate of 10 years, a committed Marxist and avowed enemy of religion and the Church, could see the light, then surely this fellow can as well.

    This non-believer is in need of even more charity than our brothers and sisters in Christ. I propose that a) we pray for him, and b) we continue this discussion civilly, if other Joe will have it.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “If you are from Dwight IL, you are someone who helps banks against the poor. Hardly a christian. It sounds like you could care less about passing a needle’s eye.”

    What a curious statement. I actually represent anyone who seeks me out: rich, poor, banks, corporations, partnerships, churches, etc. When you practice law in a small town one’s practice tends to be eclectic. My practice each year also has a pro bono component for those without funds.

    “There is nothing that could convince me that the judeo-christrian-islam god exists.”

    Are you certain of that? Emotionally I have no doubt that is what you feel. Intellectually I suspect you have not even scratched the surface of the debate that has gone on throughout history as to the existence of God.

    “I never used the word entire. That word was inserted by you sir. Quit leading this witness.”

    In court Joe I would simply ask the Judge to order that your prior statement be read from the record. Now we have you saying that science cannot disprove the existence of God. What other portions of the Bible are beyond the ken of science in your opinion?

    Unlike other Christian sites you might troll at, you will find here that Catholics do not believe that the Bible makes statements regarding science. That was never the purpose of the Bible. The laws regarding celestial mechanics are irrelevant as to the question of whether God created the Earth, the Sun and all matter and energy.

    “Those people are only important in your small little world. Maybe if you were a philosophy student. Aquinas also is said to be able to levitate. So that sounds realistic.

    I have been formally educated sir, I am even a member of good standing in the church although I grew up long ago. Your attacks on my intelligence are sad.”

    Actually they are not Joe. Saints Augustine and Aquinas are two of the pillars of the intellectual history of the West. You are influenced by them in ways you have no inkling of.

    I made and make no statement regarding your innate intelligence. I merely assert that your statements give no sign that you benefited from the portions of your education that would be relevant to the discussion at hand.

    “Freeing people of mindless devotion to the bogeyman is no waste of time. Also misspelling the word ‘know’ looks foolish too.”

    You free no one from anything Joe. You merely give vent to your emotions. My spelling error was corrected by me before you pointed it out. One of the advantages of helping to run a blog rather than being a troll.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    Hey Joe. Can you put a leash or muzzle on Donald then if you tell everyone to be civil?

    Donald, I’m glad you have such a high estimate of yourself, but I don’t see how name calling helps your point. I sincerely doubt your jesus would go around calling people trolls. If you can’t debate this without resorting to name-calling, it takes away any good points you may make in the future.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Nice non-response Joe. You really aren’t used to putting up an intellectual defense to your position are you?

    Joe, you are the one coming to a Catholic website to mock those who believe in God. You opened this debate. Calling you a troll is not pejorative but merely descriptive. If you wish to have a serious debate, participate. If not, be about your troll business.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Oh, and Joe, I have a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in my county this afternoon. The volunteers there, most of them evangelical women, have a prayer chain. I am going to ask that your name be placed on it so that you may gain the precious gift of faith in God. If that isn’t the oddest thing to happen to you recently, I’ll be very much surprised!

  • JoeFromQC says:

    That’s really the only problem with your make believe world. It’s never enough to worry about your own soul. You have to ram it down other people’s throat.

    Don’t have those hardworking ladies waste time praying for me. Have them pray for you and YOUR family. Unless you have sold all your possessions and are following jesus in humble means as he prescribes. As a lawyer I doubt that you have.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    I do believe that a christian’s greatest talent is to be able to pick and choose which parts of the bible they will follow.

    Hmm… I love lobster, so I’ll just ignore where it says shellfish is an abomination. I’d NEVER stone my wife or sell my daughter into slavery so I’ll pretend those verses don’t exist either.

  • American Knight says:

    Obviosuly Dondald is a racist!

    He’s discriminating agains the race of the athiestic umbermensch. How can he be so mean as to call the alleged athiest a troll when the trolling he is engaged in is on a site with the hate-speech loaded word, Catholic in the title? He’s simply trying to expose the fraudulent mind control that the evil Popes use to keep their subjects submissive so they can accumulate all that wealth for themselves. The troll is simply trying to free your mind from invisible and imaginary things and focus on the tangible and material. That is so rational it is almost beyond me.

    On the surface it makes sense to disbilieve in invisible things becuase my eyes cannot see them. You know things like the Internet, thoughts and gravity — it is obvious to anyone with eyes that thoughts, gravity and the Internet DO NOT exist!

    I rest my argument.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Once again Joe, you came to American Catholic, American Catholic did not come to you. You came here to engage in some mockery in order to vent your rage and you got a response that you are simply unable to deal with.

    The volunteers will love praying for you! They are always up for a challenge.

    As to the admonition of Our Lord to give up all our worldly possessions, Catholics generally interpret that to refer to the clergy, since Christ refers to “if you would be made perfect” which would seem to indicate a life completely dedicated to the service of God, but all Catholics have a duty to aid the poor with their possessions in an intelligent manner. The Church literature on this particular topic is vast, and if you are really interested in it you have your reading cut out for you.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Joe, you really need to brush up on things if you are going to troll Catholic websites. The Council of Jersualem held in 49 AD determined what portions of the Old Testament laws would be binding upon Christians. Hint: the prohibition on shellfish didn’t make the cut.

  • JoeFromQC says:

    I never stated that my disbelief comes from not being able to see god. I can’t see bacteria, but I know it exists. You guys obviously can’t debate the things I’m saying so when you respond you go off on a rant about things I never said. I think that’s called bearing false witness.

    Other than that, I know you’re TRYING to be satirical, but what you said is actually true. If you desire evidence of that, look at the child abuse cover-up currently going on. All I have said is that I doubt your harsh tactics are what your ‘jesus’ would prescribe. I find it deliciously ironic that you are defending your faith with such vitriol.

    I wish I could be as simple and naive as you.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Ok. I was completely ignored by everyone and the fighting continues.

    I’m pulling rank as the author of the post and shutting this down.

    JoefromQC – if you choose to comment on a post of mine again, you will do so without insulting the beliefs of everyone here or you will be banned from the site.

    Don & others – the next time we have an atheist guest, even if is possessed by Satan himself, let us try a little bit harder to deflect insults at least at first and respond with loving patience. As I said, if I could be convinced, so can people like JoeQC.

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