Guest column: Don’t celebrate budget

The following guest commentary was written by Father John Thieryoung, pastor of St. Catherine’s Parish in Aledo, St. Anthony’s, Matherville, St. John’s, Viola, and St. Mary’s, Keithsburg. Father Thieryoung also serves as a member of The Catholic Post’s advisory board.

Reading last week’s Post article “Budget Passes ‘Values Audit'” by Dennis Sadowski demonstrated that members of Catholic Charities, Sisters of Social Service, the Office of Domestic Social Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and others who embrace the Social Justice Gospel have lost sight of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Life.

Sadowski summarized the response of those who work with the poor to the first federal budget offered by President Barack Obama, “It’s a budget, advocates and providers agree, that reflects a change in priorities. It’s a welcome change, one which advocates feel moves closer to the biblical call for justice.”

Praise was offered for the attention to the “common good” in social program funding while no moral criticism or indignation was offered about the same budget which violently attacks the very foundation of true social justice and human dignity.

How can so called “charity” and “values” in social issues be celebrated on one hand while the most heinous crimes against humanity are being perpetrated on the other? The very “values,” “common good” and “moral budget” highlighted in the article are undermined and made counterfeit by the same administration which is due to have more blood on its hands than any other in the history of our country. The same budget will fund the extension of abortion at home and abroad, the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research and cloning, while the administration promotes further injustice by attacking the right of conscience of health care workers.

True charity and values are not to be found at the heart of such a budget, and certainly cannot be celebrated.

The disorder of the Social Justice Gospel is the illusory pursuit of deliverance from social ills and sins through socio-political activism, political power and paternal government programs while losing sight of true Christian spirituality and the mission of the Church. While not dismissing social and government responsibility to the poor and less fortunate, we must remember Jesus’ declaration, “the poor you will always have with you.”

The primary mission of the Church is to save souls through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Individual conversion of heart through grace plants the seeds of divine life and love which transform lives and secondarily transform society through the life of true charity which impels one to reach out and care for the spiritual and material needs of others.

More government funding of social programs does not promote the primary mission of the Church, especially when the same source is destroying individual human lives by the millions; individuals who will not have the opportunity to live in a society, just or unjust, nor enjoy the chance to grow in the supernatural life of charity God destined for them.

An illustration of the inversion of true spiritual values with social justice gospel is provided by the late Father Richard John Neuhaus’ in his book “Death on a Friday Afternoon”:

“Not long ago I was invited to lecture to a large group of clergy in the Midwest. They had for two days been studying sacramental and liturgical theology, and it came time for the bishop to introduce me. ‘It has been a rewarding two days,’ he said, ‘as we have been thinking about worship and the sacramental life, but now we have Father Neuhaus to return us to the real world as he addresses the subject of the Church and social responsibility.’

“Really? The real world? What then is that other world of worship, prayer and contemplative exploration into the mystery of Christ’s presence . . . It is by this world, this world at the cross, that reality is measured and judged.”

The reality of this current administration’s budget is that it is bankrupt of the ultimate values and truths the Church stands for no matter how much social and charitable funding it provides.

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