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Soul Mending

Catholics need good, critical skills to help create a true culture of life

By Yvonne Zarowny


“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” — Matthew 19:24
  “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:10

Have you thought about where you get your understanding of our actual official church teachings or Sacred Scriptures? Or the sources for your understanding of the life-threatening social issues confronting us? 


These include the root causes of the unprecedented number of internal and international refugees, wars, structural deficits that deny the poor and marginalized life with dignity, the increasing concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few, and our development mode’s wanton destruction of Earth — one symptom of which is the climate chaos we are experiencing.


Are you aware of the numerous viable alternatives we could be putting into place that would significantly lessen their generation — including demand for abortions and euthanasia?


“Social” in this sense refers to anything co-created by humans or that flow from human decisions — whether or not they are made consciously or in a critically informed manner.


Any arrangement or issue co-created by humans can be changed by humans.


Since St. John XXIII’s 1963 Pacem in Terris, our Catholic social teachings assumes this and provides direction for us to be prayerfully reflectively engaged.


St. John Paul II states in his 1991 Centesimus Annus (61): “After The Second World War, she (church) put the dignity of the person at the centre — insisting that material goods were meant for all.”  


In this encyclical, as with his 1987 Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, his criticisms of capitalism and the American form of “free enterprise” or “market economies” are scathing compared to his criticism of communism and socialism.


It is in this encyclical St. John Paul introduces the term “structural/social sin” and “the ecological question” into our highest level of official teachings.


Both he and Pope Emeritus Benedict in his 2009 Caritas in Veritate make it clear it doesn’t matter if it is governments, corporations or “markets” shaping our development modes, including our economies. If dignity for all people impacted and respect for all aspects of God’s Creation doesn’t flow, they constitute structural or social sins.


“Good” Catholic formation/education needs to provide us with the critical skills and information so we can be part of an effective political force capable of transforming our grotesque culture of death into a variety of cultures of life. 


Downey’s Dec. 13 article in the Prairie Messenger touches on this with respect to Pope Francis and Canadian Catholic higher education. It is to be neither ideological nor partisan. 


It is definitely political, moral and cultural — just as our investment and purchase choices are.


“Political,” a grossly incorrectly used word, is from the Greek “polis” which means “city.” 


In his 2012 book Speaking Christian, American Episcopal theologian Marcus J. Borg states: “Politics concerns the shape of how we live together in large populations. Politics is about the shape and shaping of societies, nations, and the world itself. What should the humanly created world look like?” (p. 49). 


As outlined above, Catholic social teaching, a constitutive or essential part of our official Catholic teaching, tells us. 


I was bewildered when they were referenced in the 2016 American presidential campaigns. I was horrified when at the October 2017 Catholic University of American’s (CUA) Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics “Good Profit and Catholic Social Teachings” conference, Busch stated Charles Koch “embodied the teachings of St. John Paul II’s (1981) Laborum Exercens.”


If you are not familiar with the stealth and multi-faceted political network of which the “Kansas” Koch brothers are a vital part, read Jane Mayer’s 2016 Dark Money. If you care about all those who have suffered and died for our democracy, truth, life with dignity from conception to natural death or getting a timely hip replacement, also read Nancy MacLean’s 2017 Democracy in Chains. 


MacLean builds on Mayer’s work providing missing links to Mr. Trump and the integrated, comprehensive, covert strategy of “Koch et al.” 


She outlines James Buchanan’s “public choice” theory which underpins the Virginia School of Political Economics. It frames governments as “the” problem and public sector workers, including scientists, as only being about narrow self-interest, not the common good.


In his Jan. 22, 2015, article in The Wall Street Journal “Teaching Capitalism to Catholics” Busch states CUA’s president and business school dean’s response to letters questioning the ideological bent of its school as: “returning the grants would ‘stifle debate by pretending that genuinely controversial positions are official church teaching.’ ”


Except, as affirmed by St. John Paul II, they are not just part they are the centre of our official teaching and have been for seven decades!


My understanding of Matthew 19:24 deepened. Be prepared to enter into the Passion of Jesus.


As I unpacked the involvement of a small group of multi-millionaire Catholics in American “Catholic” education — both formal and informal — I felt as if my heart was being squeezed by an icy skeletal hand and my essential organs dissolved in toxic sludge. 


They are involved in all parts of the EWTN global media conglomerate, the Acton and NAPA Institutes and much more.   

I prayed: “Let this cup pass me!”


I learned about Thomas Monaghan, his formation of Legatus, a by-invitation-only organization of “top tier” i.e. multi-millionaire Catholics and its influence on Busch.


This small group of super-rich are inhibiting our capacity to know our official church teaching and our freedom to contribute to co-creating cultures where all have life with dignity for the full continuum.  


Aren’t you glad Easter is coming!

A critical educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.

A critical educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.