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Social Justice = Socialism?

I heard a homily the other day that began with the Gospel of the woman with the hemorrhage touching Christ and being healed by her Faith. The homilist continued speaking about how this woman was rejected by society, yet Christ stopped in His “important” mission to heal the synagogue leader’s daughter to seek the woman out. This appropriately highlighted the importance of Faith in Christ for our healing by spiritually and physically. This also highlighted Christ’s concern for those “thrown away” by society. The homilist continued in this vein saying that Christ scandalized the Apostles by turning His attention to this ‘nobody’ instead of focusing on the ‘somebody’ important. Yet, almost immediately after making these points, the homilist diverged into a discussion of “social justice” under the guise of socialism. While it is true that Christianity (including the Church) calls for Christians to give to the poor and less fortunate, it is meant as a choice for each individual.

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Socialism is conscription, a disallowal of free will. By legislating and forcing the “distribution of wealth”, much of the good of helping our less fortunate brethren is lost. When God created the world and man, He could have eliminated a lot of hassle by eliminating free will. Yet, it was important to God that we choose to love and obey Him. Prior to Creation, God had the angels He created to give Him His due honor and glory. Yet, their unquestioning adoration was not what He desired. His desire was for man to gift Him with their love, adoration, and obedience. With socialism, giving out of the goodness of your heart in a desire to do God homage is next to impossible. Your “donation” has already been evaluated by the government and “redistributed” to the less fortunate. While it is still possible (and expected) to give from your heart under socialism, the giving seems grudging.
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Forced compliance historically engenders ill-will at worst, and lackadaisical responses at least. Conscripted armies of the past were routed by smaller, less equipped, volunteer forces. England conscripted sailors during the Revolutionary war. The “red-coats” obviously lost that battle. Drafted soldiers in more recent conflicts “dodged”, “conscientiously objected”, or even deserted. The only times that conscription seems to work is when fear is at the root or insurmountable numbers. While war is obviously an extreme example of conscription, it is a fitting analogy for our battle for souls (our own and our brethren’s). We are called to be warriors for Christ. Also, we are called to fight for the less fortunate by Christ himself. Part of this battle is in caring for our less fortunate brethren. If this battle is waged by legislative force instead of Christian good-will, the victory does not belong to Christians, but to the government.
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As Catholics, we have a lot of rules “forced” upon us, yet because God’s gift of free-will even these rules are truly voluntary. Once you reach the age of reason and choose to remain in (or leave) the Church, it is your choice. While there are some “cafeteria” Catholics who pick and choose which doctrines, dogmas, and “rules” to obey, the basis of the Catholic faith is obedience to all the Church’s teachings. Christ taught us, through His obedience unto death, that unconditional obedience to God is our objective. Catholics believe that Christ put a hierarchy into place when He told Simon Peter that he [Simon Peter] held the keys to the kingdom and later when He exhorted the Twelve to go out and make disciples of all nations. The very nature of all Christianity is adherence to God’s will. Unlike our nation, Catholicism is not a republic or democracy; it is a Theocracy. Even with this fact, we are not forced to obey the rules in order to remain in the Church. Instead, we are asked to give our obedience to God through obedience to His Church. This, again, is free-will that magnifies the glory of God. Freely given obedience trumps forced obedience every time.
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 Even if Catholics vote for legislation that forces charity (twisted and presented as

“wealth redistribution”) upon all in the nation, they are not following the spirit of God’s law. The spirit of God’s law is always of love freely given, never forced. Catholics are fond of arguing that the ends do not necessarily justify the means. In the end, legislation of “wealth redistribution” and freely offered charity beget the same things. However, the means of lifting up the less fortunate is important to Catholics and, most importantly, God. Forced charity, much like forced displays of affection, lacks an undefinable something. Whereas, charity freely given, not only benefits the recipient, but also, again most importantly, glorifies God. Through this glorification of God, the giver is also lifted up in God’s eyes. So, while offering my less fortunate brethren a hand up is a truly Christian objective, socialism, or forced charity, is not a justifiable means of enacting this moral objective. In other words, to offering charity of our own volition should be our goal, not forcing this charity upon one another.

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CARITAS IN VERITATE Encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women religious, the lay faithful and all people of good will on integral human development in charity and truth.
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From Nicaragua to Now: One Family’s Sacrifices for Freedom

Less than 12 hours after the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on ObamaCare, my Facebook wall took a drastic turn. My wall is normally covered with images of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, saints, or my own little saints in the making, but I made the mistake that day of checking my newsfeed. I nearly hurled my lunch when I saw, “Yay, Obamacare passed, this is the happiest day of my life!” from one of my cousins. For once in my life, I felt like smashing the computer.

Instead, I turned to prayer. “Lord, what is happening? Why would my family of refugees from a socialized nation be happy about this?” Then I saw an image of my father in his military uniform. And a wound that has never fully healed, the death of my father, was being opened again by my own relatives. Reality hit like a ton of bricks…a hundred images flashed before me from the fall of 1979, including the last time I kissed my Papi goodbye. Then I saw another status with a similar message and my eyes went blurry.

My father when he graduated from the military academy in Nicaragua.

My father’s family being happy about the SCOTUS decision was surreal for me and I didn’t understand it. I walked away from my computer and sat looking at my beautiful open backyard. Freedom. Living in the mountains gives me a sense of both protection and freedom, but it wasn’t helping me forget what I was feeling. Worse, the mountains even further reminded me of my Papi, who fought in the mountains of Nicaragua against the Sandinistas for many years. One of the highest ranked commanders in Somoza’s army, my father fought for my freedom while we missed him at home. Military families understand the sacrifice of seeing your loved one go off to war.

I am an unhyphenated American who was born in Nicaragua when it was free of socialism/Communism. My dad was assassinated and left to rot in an abandoned house under the Sandinistas. My mother, at the ripe age of 25, had to fly to another Central American country to identify his remains.

Life without my father was hell for my mother, my sisters, and myself. We left Nicaragua with a suitcase, all of us thinking it was a temporary departure, not a permanent one. We left behind our home and business, both of which my parents had worked so hard for. Eventually, the government managed to carry out its socialist principles to their logical conclusion: it took ownership of all our property and redistributed it. Our home was confiscated and up until a few years ago, was used as the consulate for an African country.

After burying my father, my mother returned to the United States and we lived in fear, hiding for almost two years. Would they come after us, too? We never knew.

These are the kinds of houses I saw around Managua about 20 years ago when I went back for a short visit. My heart sank at the thought that people lived in houses made of cardboard.

And guess what? Things haven’t changed; even after an “open election,” Ortega is back in power! So how is it that my Nicaraguan family members, along with our Cuban and Venezuelan friends, have forgotten why we live in the United States? Should they go live in their native land for a year to be cured of their ignorance?

Before entering the air-conditioned house again, I took a deep breath and prayed my favorite prayer, the Anima Cristi, written by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was a soldier like my father. Repeating, “Passion of Christ, strengthen me!” under my breath, I sat back down at the computer and prayed, “Lord guide me!” as I typed a response.

“TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO ARE HAPPY ABOUT OBAMACARE:

If it walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and smells like a duck – it’s a duck! For all my Cuban and Nicaraguan family and friends who still think that we aren’t headed towards socialism, yesterday {Thursday, June 28th} was the day that proved we ARE heading down that road (though actually, it happened the day you voted for Obama). You and I ran away from this kind of government, yet you still are happy with it? WAKE UP and smell the socialism! It’s here! Open the history books and read how it got into our birth countries! Educate yourselves, please, for the love of God, before November! My father–your uncle, in many cases–didn’t die fighting socialism and Communism in Nicaragua for us to accept this.

After that, I was sure I’d started World War III with my family. But three days later, not one of my family members or friends who support Obama had responded. Several decided it would just be easier to unfriend me.

Despite my disappointment with family and friends, the experience made me think long and hard about what the SCOTUS decision means for our country. The decision was to be expected, because judges can’t rewrite laws just to make them Constitutional. Normally, the justices would have struck down the law and instructed Congress to rewrite it. No one knows why Justice Roberts elected to uphold the law, but it’s generally accepted that it wasn’t because he buckled to liberal pressure or was stared down by President Obama. Political experts instead believe that Roberts realized the historical consequences of a ruling that would strike down the landmark healthcare law. With no precedent for the Court to fall back on, it was difficult to say the individual mandate crossed a Constitutional line.

Many commentators have concluded that Roberts’ decision gave Romney the winning ticket since he can now say the Democrats gave us an unconstitutional tax. Some say Congress will be forced to repeal the law due to the public’s complaints–and Roberts knew this. The bottom line is, this SCOTUS ruling upheld an unconstitutional tax and this case will serve as a precedent for allowing other laws that are unconstitutional. Now, Congress knows it can tax behavior and get away with it.

Nicaragua Poverty
The poor in Nicaragua are now poorer, after 33 years under Communism/socialism.

Judge Roberts (a Catholic) gave the federal government the power to tax us for anything, even if the tax it decides to impose doesn’t fit into any tax category the Constitution says Congress can levy. Yes, we have a chance to elect better leaders in November, but now every generation will have to fight against one tax or the next, whatever behavior (or even inactivity) that the government decides we need to be taxed on.

George Washington once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” How ironic that we just celebrated our country’s independence from tyranny yesterday, when in fact today our government is more oppressive than England ever was, with more citizens depending on that government than ever before. With 236 years of freedom behind us, that freedom ought not to be negotiable.

In many areas of life, we submit to individuals not for their own good qualities, but out of respect for their office, for the authority they represent. But for that authority to be legitimate, the leader himself must submit to God and the objective Truth that He has given us. Only the leader who has, in humility, accepted obedience to a higher authority himself has the right to demand obedience of those he leads. President Obama, in pushing a socialist program onto our nation despite its overwhelming rejection by the people, has failed in this task.

A friend of mine, Brian, said it best:“Obama does not understand the model of American freedom or its Christian foundations. ObamaCare has foisted upon us the greatest human injustice imaginable: allegiance to an ideology, not founded in human freedom or love of liberty, but through radicalism by the force of the state.”

But there is some hope, according to Catholic League president Bill Donahue. “While the Supreme Court decision lacks clarity, the Catholic response will be anything but ambiguous: the battle lines between the bishops and the Obama administration are now clearer than ever,” Donahue said. “Fortunately, not only do practicing Catholics overwhelmingly support the bishops, but tens of millions of non-Catholics do, too. ObamaCare may have survived, but it is by no means a given that the HHS mandate will. It is one thing to levy a tax, quite another to level the First Amendment.”

So where do we go from here? We’ve seen the fruits of Obama’s labor and his unwillingness to submit to God. We know we need to get this man out of office in November. To do that, we need most of all to pray for this country, for God to put His hand once again on it and bring it back to Him as He did with our forefathers.

Are you registered and ready to vote?  Let your voice be heard, come November. I for one won’t allow the death of my father, who fought and died for my family to be free of government control, to be in vain. I will be voting to honor his death by upholding freedom over tyranny, so that my own children won’t suffer at the hands of their government as we did in Nicaragua.

Resources:

Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism) vy Pope Leo XIII
7 Ways Socialism Harms America
 by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP Student Action)
Catholics and Socialism
 by Stephanie Blog (CatholicCulture)
12 Hard-Hitting Facts About Socialist Ideologies by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP Student Action)
Why the Catholic Church Cannot Accept Socialism by George M. Searle, CSP
Socialism Creeps in as America Sleeps
10 Reasons to Reject Socialism by TFP Student Action
What the Popes Say about Socialism by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP)


UPDATED:

Priest issues strong invocation against socialism
http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/07/17/from-radio-priest-issues-strong-invocation-against-socialism/