Showing posts with label Social Justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Justice. Show all posts

Sunday, June 12, 2022

It’s Iimi: Dubai-ous!

Arriving in Dubai after a fifteen-hour flight, Kismetta arrives in the United Arab Emirates. Her parents hope she’ll be enamored by the glamour and opulence. Zara hopes they can get along. Kismetta is initially hopeful that she might be able to enjoy herself in the glamour. But after an ominous dream and an encounter with some foreign workers, she begins to feel… Dubai-ous.

Pre-Comic notes: This comic contains some characters using stereotypes of other groups (Emirati citizens and guest workers). As always, I don’t use these with approval, but to reflect certain beliefs that exist. Nor am I using the Fallacy of Composition (assuming of the whole what exists in individual parts).

Post Comic notes: The conditions of foreign “guest” workers in Dubai has been widely commented on. Every country has its own blind spots and vicious customs of course. So, I’m not portraying this as “the UAE is the worst place in the world” or “Muslims don’t care about others.” Rather, this is a case of Kismetta becoming aware of things that trouble her which were previously blind spots. 

What’s up with the dream? Well, you’ll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

It’s Iimi! Guess Who’s Coming to Easter?

When Della shows up in time for the Easter Triduum to introduce her boyfriend to the family, the rest of the Iscra family seem concerned. Is this because they harbor racist attitudes? Or are there other things to consider before passing judgment on the family?

Pre-Comic notes: If you’re curious the title of this comic—and the font in the title—is an send up of the 1967 movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. This comic is trying for showing what the Catholic understanding of racial interactions should look like: It’s the person, not their ethnic makeup that matters in how we view and treat others. 

True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.

Gaudium Et Spes #29

Saturday, August 28, 2021

It’s Iimi! The Fake Tricks

Sean Marcus wants to ask Iimi about the eviction moratorium being ruled unconstitutional and how it can be reconciled with being pro-life. Iimi points out that Sean needs to consider much more than “good guys” and “bad guys.” Will he consider her points? Or will he take the Blue Pill?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

It’s Iimi! So, What Are You Gonna Do About It?

Sean wants to make a proposal for the youth group that they should focus on issues that might be “solvable” instead. So, he asks Iimi to evaluate it for him. Iimi questions whether Sean would be willing to go along if it was another issue other than abortion being considered.

The argument Sean presents here was actually directed at me on Facebook. Except for cleaning up the grammar and spelling, it is presented verbatim. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brief Thoughts about the Catholic Acrimony on Immigration

It’s legitimate when Catholics have different ideas on how to best carry out the Church teaching on treating migrants. However, it’s not legitimate to reject the Church teaching on immigration and accuse those who teach it of being against Church teaching. But many Catholics are choosing the illegitimate action while claiming that those in authority are wrong.

Church moral teaching can be traced back to the Greatest Commandments (Matthew 22:37-40), where Jesus says:

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

If we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15), not look for an excuse to refuse obedience. The problem is, we are seeing an alarming disregard for the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. When people leave their homes and travel ~2100 miles on foot to come here, some of them dying on the way, many more being victims of crime, disease, and other hardships, the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself means we don’t say “It’s your own fault for coming here.” It means we don’t accuse our bishops of “ignoring” other issues when they say we have a responsibility to ease their suffering. We don’t ask why somebody else in Guatemala isn’t helping them.

But the things we must not do are what an alarming number of Catholics are doing. For example, when I blogged about the father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande, I received a number of people who said exactly those things and worse (like claiming it was a staged picture). 

The problem with that way of thinking is, we don’t get to think that way and call ourselves faithful Catholics. Our Lord gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The one person who would have been most justified in refusing to get involved was the one person who acted according to the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself. We’re called to emulate the Samaritan, but we’re acting like the Priest and Levite.

Different people can legitimately have different ideas about how to best help those in need our doorstep, and yes, we should prudently consider safety of citizens. But if we act like the rich man who outright ignores the person suffering on his doorstep, things will go badly for us at the end of our life (cf. Luke 16:19-31).

Monday, May 13, 2019

Limiting the Voice of the Church

I was reading a back issue of First Things the other day and came across a curious claim by the author of the essay. This claim was that the Church ought not to speak on every issue that comes along, but should instead limit herself to speaking about crucial issues (such as sexual morality and abortion).

The reason I found this curious was the issues the author thought the Church should hold back on were also issues that the Church has always spoken about: the obligation to aid the poor. It made me reflect though. Catholics have fallen far when they reduce part of the Church teaching (the part at odds with their politics) to “political opinions.”

The teaching of Pope Francis and the bishops today on care for the homeless, the migrant is no different from his predecessors. Rather we overlook the fact that his predecessors spoke on these topics just like we forget that Pope Francis speaks on the moral issues. For example, St. John Paul II said in a June 2, 2000 homily:

Unfortunately, we still encounter in the world a closed-minded attitude and even one of rejection, due to unjustified fears and concern for one’s own interests alone. These forms of discrimination are incompatible with belonging to Christ and to the Church. Indeed, the Christian community is called to spread in the world the leaven of brotherhood, of that fellowship of differences which we can also experience at our meeting today.

If the Pope said this today, we’d have people accusing him of speaking out against today”s American policy in the Middle East or Mexico with people cheering or denouncing him. But he was speaking at a jubilee of migrant and immigrant peoples almost 20 years ago, when our political landscape was different. But with almost 20 years separating the two Popes, the concern of the Church is the same: self-interest and fear is leading Christians to avoid the Christian need to care for those in need. When we say “the Pope should stay out of politics,” we are effectively trying to silence the Church from speaking out on our moral obligation.

It goes the other way too. When the Church speaks out on sexual morality and the right to life, we hear others saying they’re political (or, my personal eyeroll favorite, “getting played” by politicians) even though the Church has always spoken on these things. Just like certain Catholics ignored or accused St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI of being political when they spoke out on social justice, other Catholics ignore Pope Francis when he condemns abortion, same sex “marriage,” and “gender theory.” Thus, the Popes we like are earnest and the ones we dislike are “political.”

But none of these Popes are “being political.” They’re speaking on issues that can affect our souls. Trying to silence the Popes from “being political” is actually trying to silence the Popes from saying what we need—but don’t want—to hear.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Proportionate Reasons and Voting: Understanding the Ratzinger Memorandum

73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1–7; 1 Pet 2:13–14), but at the same time it firmly warned that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).


 John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995).

During every election season, we have to watch certain Catholic voters try to justify their intent to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, saying that the Church actually permits their action. So inevitably, people will march out the the words of then Cardinal Ratzinger in his 2004 memorandum on the issue of politicians and whether or not they could receive the Eucharist. The final section of this document, in brackets, addresses the issue of the Catholic that votes for the politician who supports abortion and euthanasia. The words in question are:

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.] 

The problem is, people are giving this paragraph an interpretation without even knowing what the terms in question actually mean. Instead, they treat it as if the then cardinal meant that it was OK to do what they feel like doing. But that is not what the terminology means.  There are three categories to consider:

  1. Material Cooperation (as opposed to formal cooperation)
  2. Remote Action (as opposed to direct action)
  3. Proportionate Reason
In order to properly interpret this section of the memorandum, we need to understand what these concepts mean. They’re not mere words. They are in fact categories of moral theology which are used to determine whether or not we should do something. So let us look at each term and see what they mean.
Understanding the Terms
Those who were going to vote for a pro-abortion candidate anyway (even if not for the issue of abortion) cite this memorandum as if it meant that so long as the person does not vote for the candidate because he is pro-abortion it means a person can vote for him for other reasons the person thinks are important. But that is to miss the point of what material cooperation is. Moral theologian Germain Grisez describes material cooperation this way:

Obviously, if the act by which a person materially cooperates is itself sinful, the material cooperation also is sinful. But even if that act otherwise would be morally acceptable, the material cooperation sometimes is not permissible. Material cooperation in others’ objectively wrong acts involves accepting as side effects of one’s own acts both their contribution to the wrongdoing and its harmful effects; however, one is responsible not only for what one intends and chooses, but also, though not in the same way, for what one accepts as side effects (see CMP, 9.F). In materially cooperating in others’ wrong acts, therefore, a person bears some responsibility, and it is necessary to consider whether one is justified in accepting the bad side effects or not.

The engineer, the locksmith, and the legislators of the preceding examples may well be justified in their material cooperation. But suppose the owner of a gun store happens to learn that a regular customer uses guns and ammunition purchased there to fulfill contracts for murder. In continuing to sell the merchandise simply for the sake of profit, the owner would only materially cooperate in bringing about the victims’ deaths, but would hardly be justified in accepting that side effect.

Assuming cooperation is material and the act by which it is carried out otherwise would be morally good, the question is whether one has an adequate reason to do that act in view of its bad side effects. Often, one bad side effect of material cooperation is the temptation to cooperate formally. For someone who begins by cooperating materially in many cases already has or soon develops an interpersonal relationship with the wrongdoer and thus is led to deeper involvement, including a sharing of purposes. For example, whenever friends, relatives, or members of any group or society materially cooperate, solidarity inclines them to hope for the success of the wrongdoing which they are helping. Thus, material cooperation easily becomes the occasion of the sin of formal cooperation. Then it should be dealt with in the same way as other occasions of sin (see 4.D.3), and may be excluded on this basis alone.


 Germain Grisez, The Way of the Lord Jesus, Volume Two: Living a Christian Life (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1997), 441–442.

To apply it to our issue, voting is not a sinful act by itself. But the way we vote may indeed be sinful if we cause harm in doing so. Just because a voter may not be voting for a pro-abortion politician because of their stand on abortion, this does not excuse the voter’s action. One has to consider the consequences of their vote, even though they do not personally support that consequence. Given that abortion in America alone takes over one million human lives each year, that’s a pretty serious reason that has to exist to justify voting for a politician who openly states they will continue to keep this legal.

Likewise, remote cooperation involves actions which do not directly cause the act, but still make it possible for the act to happen. If a person knows the results of his actions will bring about evil, even if unintended, the person has an obligation to try to avoid causing that evil to the best of their ability.

Finally, the term “proportionate reason” does not refer to the personal opinion of what an individual wants. It works more like this—if a limb is gangrenous, removal of that limb is a proportionate reason for amputation. If the limb is healthy, removal of the limb is not justified. So, when it comes to voting for a pro-abortion candidate, one has to ask what sort of condition exists that gives a proportionate reason for voting for a pro-abortion candidate. 

So, when we see then Cardinal Ratzinger’s phrase, “it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons,” what it really means is this:

The action of voting for a pro-abortion politician without directly supporting abortion does make the moral evil possible (material cooperation). That action is remote because, while it does not directly cause abortion, it still makes the continuation of abortion possible. Therefore, a vote for such a candidate requires a reason that justifies electing a person who will defend the right to abort over one million babies a year.


Archbishop Chaput has really laid it out on the line on what this proportionate reason involves, and his description really points out how superficially people have interpreted the memorandum. In 2008, he wrote:

One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this: Don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false “right” to abortion. We sin if we support “pro-choice” candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so—that is, a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would such a “proportionate” reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions—as we someday will.

Chaput, Charles J. (2008-08-12). Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (pp. 229-230). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And that is the long and short of it. Exactly what is the reason that is so serious that it justifies temporarily setting aside the fight against the evil of abortion? It would have to be a serious reason. But when you ask the Catholic who plans to support a pro-abortion candidate what this great evil is, they don’t answer. Why aren’t these people sharing their information with the rest of us?

I think what this behavior shows is that the Catholic who votes for the pro-abortion politician “for other reasons” [†] is not really convinced that abortion is such a grave moral evil. Perhaps they give the teaching lip service, but they think that it is only one issue among many. They misuse the seamless garment imagery by promoting the causes they care about as being equally important as abortion, when they are not. Indeed, all other rights depend on the right to life. St. John Paul II made clear that without the defense of life, the rest of the issues become meaningless:

38. In effect the acknowledgment of the personal dignity of every human being demands the respect, the defence and the promotion of therights of the human person. It is a question of inherent, universal and inviolable rights. No one, no individual, no group, no authority, no State, can change-let alone eliminate-them because such rights find their source in God himself.

The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights-for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici #38)

I’ll leave you with this thought: St. John Paul II called the other concerns “false and illusory” when the right to life is not defended. I think that, if we are honest with ourselves, we cannot call our current partisan political concerns a proportionate reason to justify a vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Yes, all of the current slate of candidates fall short on one issue or another and, regardless of who is elected, we have to oppose that person where they fall short. But we cannot set aside the issue of life in favor of our favorite positions. We cannot let our ideology take priority over our moral obligation as Catholics, even if it means we have to make hard decisions on how to cast our ballot.




[†] The Catholic who votes for a candidate because they support “abortion rights” is guilty of formal cooperation with evil and therefore shares in the crime. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Brief Thoughts on Catholics and Treating Social Justice as a Partisan Concern

Lazarus at Rich Mans house(Lazarus at the Rich Man’s House (Luke 16:19-31):
Our Lord does have some things to say about concern for the Poor)

It is enlightening to see the Pope and bishops speak out on our obligation to help the poor and the refugees, regardless of their legal status. At the same time it is tragic to see so many Catholics online attack them for doing so. Too many people treat this issue as if it was a political policy debate and accuse the Pope and bishops of behaving as supporting liberal factions of the United States and Western European politics.

The danger to our souls seems to be that we are treating as political issues, what actually was taught by Our Lord. The Old Testament is full of warnings about not neglecting or mistreating the poor, the widows, the orphans and the aliens among the Israelites. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself and His apostles after Him also warned about not neglecting them or treating them as less important.

As Jesus told us, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15), and in His teachings (such as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats and the Parable of Lazarus), we see warnings about the judgment of those who who could have helped them but turned a blind eye.

41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 *Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  (Matthew 25:41-46) 

Now that is not to say that Sr. Joan Chittister was right in her partisan screed which is so popular among pro-abortion types today. The claim that someone who is truly pro-life is pro-high taxes is to take the Church teaching and turn it into partisan politics. People can, in good faith, disagree about the best ways to fulfill the Lord’s commands on caring for the poor. However, we cannot disagree in good faith as to whether we have to care for “these least ones,” regardless of whether they are poor or refugees, or even drug addicts and illegal immigrants. The rich man couldn’t be bothered by a sick and starving beggar sitting on his front step, so sick and weak that he can’t even fend off the dogs licking his sores. He went to hell for his lack of concern for the “least of these.” ("Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.” Luke 16:25)

Yes, there are many valid concerns over how to best help the people in need while not enabling wrongdoing, but we can’t let that concern blind us into not acting at all. Partisan politics today are as if the crew of a ship were arguing over what policy to take over struggling survivors of a shipwreck in the water. The Church is saying, “Yes we can worry about that—but right now, why don’t we THROW THEM A FREAKING LIFE PRESERVER AND GET THEM OUT OF THE WATER?"

We should keep these things in mind and not accuse the Pope of being a “Marxist” for reminding us of Our Lord’s commands on the topic.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Musings on the Church and Social Justice

When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist.

--Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian archbishop

The concern for the poor is a dual edged sword for the Church. When she cares for the poor, she is praised. When she challenges people to consider their behavior and obligations to the poor, she is considered to be naive, out of touch and unrealistic at best or leaning towards socialism at worst.

And admittedly, some in the Church do lose sight of the Christian obligation and try to reduce the Church teaching to a political or economic way of thinking.  Things like liberation theology are a distortion of the Christian belief.

Unfortunately, some falsely reason:

1) Either Socialism or Capitalism
2) The Pope is not speaking of Capitalism positively
3) Therefore, the Pope is pro-Socialism.

The problems with this assumption is that not speaking of capitalism positively does not mean speaking in favor of socialism. It can merely mean that the Pope is speaking against abuses in capitalism and calling for a change of heart.

The Church social teaching is not about embracing ideologies. It is about reminding people that Christians are obliged to live their faith in all aspects of their life.

People today get offended by Pope Francis speaking about the waste and lack of concern for others. But they forget that in 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote (in an encyclical condemning Communism):

But when on the one hand We see thousands of the needy, victims of real misery for various reasons beyond their control, and on the other so many round about them who spend huge sums of money on useless things and frivolous amusement, We cannot fail to remark with sorrow not only that justice is poorly observed, but that the precept of charity also is not sufficiently appreciated, is not a vital thing in daily life. We desire therefore, Venerable Brethren, that this divine precept, this precious mark of identification left by Christ to His true disciples, be ever more fully explained by pen and word of mouth; this precept which teaches us to see in those who suffer Christ Himself, and would have us love our brothers as Our Divine Savior has loved us, that is, even at the sacrifice of ourselves, and, if need be, of our very life. Let all then frequently meditate on those words of the final sentence, so consoling yet so terrifying, which the Supreme Judge will pronounce on the day of the Last Judgment: "Come, ye blessed of my Father . . . for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink . . . Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren you did it to me."[33] And the reverse: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire . . . for I was hungry and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink . . . Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least. neither did you do it to me."[34]

(Divini Redemptoris #47).

It's the same message, 76 years before Pope Francis wrote Evangelii Gaudium (in fact, only a year after he was born).  There have been huge upheavals in the political and economic landscape since 1937, but Pope Pius XI wrote what was true then and is true now. People can sin in ways involving the economy. Some in ways always wrong (like the injustices of Communism). Others in ways that misuse the system for personal gain.

Unfortunately people either want to coopt the Church teaching into looking like an endorsement of their partisan views or treat it as if the Church was deceived into endorsing "the other side."

That's happening again. Communism is largely irrelevant today and Capitalism exists even in Communist nations to some extent. So the Pope doesn't need to speak against Communism's wrongs.  Capitalism is alive and well, so when it goes wrong, the Pope would be remiss to be silent on these wrongs.

The Church teaching is not politically motivated. It is concerned with our relationship with God and neighbor -- relationships which should be our highest priority in life.  If we think of these teachings as political, perhaps we should think about where we stand in our relationships with God and neighbor.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Left Right or Neither One? Reflections on the Church and Social Justice


I prefer not to get too deeply involved with political issues except when it seems someone is misstating the Church teaching to promote/attack a political view.  Generally speaking when one starts to argue on the political grounds, it is all too easy to get pigeonholed as either "Left" or "Right" and thus get evaluated on whether people agree with the partisan view compared to whether the position staked out is true.

Thus I haven't, for example, weighed in on things like the "Tea party movement."  (I don't belong to the movement in case you were wondering.)  I believe that change is good if the position is to move society closer to what God wills and does so in a way which is just and charitable (otherwise you have the paradox of doing evil to bring about good), but I don't like the idea of "OMGWTFBBQ! Society is so screwed up, ANYTHING is better!"

Of course I do believe that sometimes the Christian must get involved in the issues of Social Justice, either to oppose an evil or to urge a reform.  Thus this article on the Social Teaching of the Church.

Pitfalls of the Public Opinion in regarding Social Teaching of the Church

Unfortunately, with the pigeonholing of positions into "Left" or "Right" it is easy for the Church teaching to be blasted from one side or the other.  All one needs to do is to label a position as one side or the other and then declare their agreement or opposition.

Thus when the Bishops speak out on the promotion of abortion in policies of Obama, they are labeled "right wing" by those liberals who disagree.  Yet when they take a stand on illegal immigration or nuclear war, they are denounced by conservatives as being "left wing."

In doing so, the so-called Right pigeonholes the Church as liberal in all things and the so-called Left pigeonholes the Church as conservative in all things.

So does this make the Church schizophrenic?  Or is it a case that the Church holds a different view on the meaning of justice, charity and truth which does not fit into categories of "Left vs. Right"?

We can demonstrate with a Euler Circle that the Church holding a position does not mean it holds to a political ideology.  Just because "All [B] hold [A]" does not mean "All [A] holds [B]"


If anyone holds position A, who does not agree with position B, the accusation is false.  This is why it is an error to hold that because the Church holds position [A] they must be holding political ideology [B].

It is also the fallacy of affirming the consequent which runs like this:

  1. If the Church is [Republican] they will [oppose abortion] (If [P] then [Q])
  2. The Church [opposes abortion] ([Q])
  3. Therefore the Church is [Republican] (Therefore [P])

However, if the Church holds [Q] for any reason other than the partisan [P] then this reasoning is wrong.

So before one can accuse the Church of being Liberal or Conservative because their position on an issue is similar to a position a political party holds, one needs to look at the reason the Church holds a position.

A Look at the Basic Premise of Church Teaching

Mark 12 gives us a beginning to the understanding of the Church teaching:

28 One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!

30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’

33 And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The teaching of the Church on the obligations we have is indeed based on our obligation to God and to our fellow man.  On one hand, the man who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar (see 1 John 4:20).  On the other hand, how we love our neighbor must reflect doing what God commands.

Thus we may neither carry out a jihad-like program to carry out God's will since we must carry out His will in a spirit of love.  However we cannot do what pleases our neighbor if that runs afoul of the Lord's teachings.

Truth in Love, Love in Truth

Pope Benedict XVI, in his most recent encyclical, Caritas in veritate ("Charity in Truth"), has set forth considerations we need to keep in mind in the treatment of our neighbor.  Unfortunately, this encyclical has been viewed as either a justification for a certain political slant or else a citation to denounce the "other" side.

However, as the Pope says in paragraph #2:

I am aware of the ways in which charity has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility. Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate. Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living.

Truth needs to be expressed charitably, but charity needs to be carried out in the understanding of what is true and not just what "feels right."

The Pope also draws a necessary distinction in #6:

Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice.

This can sometimes be difficult unless we realize what belongs to a person by justice.

That which is owed each person simply because they are a person

The human person cannot be deprived certain things because these things are owed to a person simply by being a human being.  For example, in Gaudium et spes, #26, we see it proclaimed:

At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things, and his rights and duties are universal and inviolable. Therefore, there must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one's own conscience, to protection of privacy and rightful freedom even in matters religious.

The Church also believes that each person has the right to life, and that without the right to life, no other right can exist.  Evangelium vitae #57 tells us:

As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others. This equality is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice, recognizing and protecting every man and woman as a person and not as an object to be used. Before the moral norm which prohibits the direct taking of the life of an innocent human being "there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the 'poorest of the poor' on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal".

So the illegal immigrant, the unborn child, and others who can be exploited have certain rights which cannot be taken away because the person is in the nation illegally or not yet born.  Laws which reduce the person to an object to be used for a political gain, makes their life expedient to the whim of another, or make it illegal for one to give a person what they need are laws which the Church must oppose.

This is why the Church is not being contradictory for simultaneously believing a reform of health care is good, while opposing Obama's particular version of it.  This is why the Church can oppose abortion and not accept the view that merely stopping with making it illegal is enough.  This is why the Church can say that nations have a right to prevent illegal immigration without approving certain unjust proposals on how to do so.

It's not enough to have a good intended end. One also has to have a good means to achieve this end.  Thus in Obamacare, the Church objected to the protection of abortion rights and to the exclusion of non-citizens.  Thus in the case of the Arizona immigration laws, she recognizes that illegal immigration can be harmful while still opposing the laws which would permit the suffering and exploitation of the illegal immigrant.


Before one can accuse the Church of being partisan, one needs to consider the basis of their position.  When certain things are held because of the teaching of God who requires us to treat our fellow man with justice and love if we would claim to love Him, it is unjust to accuse the Church of holding a position out of partisanship.

Indeed, such an accusation could reflect more the position of the one accusing the Church who is projecting what they are guilty of onto the Church.