Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Let's Practice What the Bishops Preach

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Let's Practice What the Bishops Preach

Article excerpt

We catholics in the United States should, at least, be embarrassed. Over the years our leaders, popes and bishops especially, have given us a precious heritage - the social-justice teachings of the church. But many of us, on our part, have become social-justice couch potatoes. Most of us know that the teachings are there, but we are content to leave them on a barely accessible shelf. And our indifference hurts.

Lately, for example, the American Catholic bishops at their annual meeting in November spoke loudly and clearly against much of the legislation that the U.S. Congress has been considering and sometimes passing. Speaking of welfare "reform" and of the need for tax credits for poor families, the assembled bishops said: "If Congress does not reject this fatally flawed legislation, we urge the President to veto it. We are not supporters of the status quo, which too often undermines families and hurts children, but this legislation in many respects represents a huge step backward."

At the same meeting, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles condemned Congress for its "unprecedented dismantling" of health care and educational and social-service programs. "We are witnessing," the cardinal said, "an extraordinary assault upon the poorest members of our society, blaming them not only for their personal plight and poverty, but also for many of the economic and social ills affecting our country."

The cardinal added a comment regarding another concern of the bishops: "Our immigrant brothers and sisters and various minority groups are being singled out for hostile blame." But will our political leaders be moved to action in response to these strong words? Don't bet the farm on that. Relying on the ever-present poll takers, they are counting on the indifference of Catholics and others to the unequivocal teachings of our religious leaders that, above all else, we respect the dignity of all human persons. The polls reveal that, in the words of some teenagers, we are "hanging" when we should be participating.

Hardly an evening goes by that we do not hear on the news that this corporation or that is "downsizing" and will eliminate the jobs of x-number of employees. A few of such corporations are ailing financially and their management believes that the downsizing is necessary to achieve financial health. But most are not. Their managers and directors, driven by an overweening concern for the bottom line and an evergrowing lust for greater profits, have no compunction about treating their employees as disposable units, fewer of which will mean greater dividends for their shareholders. …

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