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Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Church, and Her "Goals"

I read Gone With the Wind on a family vacation the summer before sixth grade.
(I am proud to say that I thought Rhett was kind a of a bully, and that was before I knew there was a movie with that lovely blond man in it. Imagine my horror to learn, in college IIRC, that Leslie Howard was long dead!)
Anyway, it's not a great favorite of mine, and I don't actually know if the only incident that really stuck with me was from the novel or the film. There was a prostitute trying to donate money to the noble cause, and my snarky Yankee heart thought, well, as if you didn't already deserve to lose, you losers, you lost me and you lost the war right there!
Seriously? You think a principle is worth fighting for, dying for, KILLING for... but not worth sullying yourself by taking taking desperately need aid from a fallen woman??!??!?$?
Which I was reminded of after thinking about CCHD.
Well, you know how the internet is...
Someone had complained about a bishop who was too into "social justice."
And someone else whined about or criticized the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, and I didn't know who and what Justice, Peace, and Human Development, and wondered what the "4 other USCCB departments" were, and saw CCHD somewhere on the page, and had my usual thought of, ya  #!$%^*)s, you'd save yourselves a lot of grief, and get the wingnuts off your backs, (or at least take away their ammunition,)  and make you fund-raising a lot easier if you would just try and remember that not only is respecting the dignity of every human life part of social justice, it is the FIRST law of any social justice.
Because they still don't.
Oh, it's better than it was, but when you've lost peoples' trust so thoroughly, you have to do better than "better."
But then I was reading about the ruckus someone is making because an interfaith group that gets a CCHD grant is headed this year by a fellow from a faith that performs gay "marriages."
So what?
The interfaith group doesn't. The interfaith group has no position in favor of something the Church opposes. The interfaith group is proselytising against something the Church supports. The interfaith group ISN'T THE DENOMINATION THAT PERFORMS GAY MARRIAGES OR WORKED FOR ITS LEGALIZATION.

You know what, if I were on a Habitat for Humanity build and a local racist was passing by as we were raising a wall, I sure wouldn't chase him away when he lent a hand. And if he knew more about framing than any of us and pointed out a better way to do something, I'd let him take the lead.

And I would have taken Belle Watling's money.

All that said -- houses, meatloaf, help with the heating bill? NONE OF IT MATTERS.


None of it matters if your ultimate aim isn't your salvation and theirs. Never forget, you're nothing special, or rather you are no more special, you're just as much of a "poor soul" as the homeless guy or the illegal immigrant or the unregistered voter or the illiterate kid you think you're helping.

This is quite a few years old, and I don't endorse everything in it, but the author has a much less limited perspective on the CCHD than most of us do, and this really stuck me:
If the CCHD is indeed working from within a Catholic worldview, why are the Church’s perspectives never included? It is apparent that the CCHD has identified these root causes from a secular perspective, which only focuses on the temporal, physical needs of the person. As Catholics, we are obligated to see the entire person, made in the image and likeness of God. The whole person is not just a physical being, but a spiritual one. While the earthly physical needs are important in this existence, the CCHD neglects to acknowledge the spiritual part of a person.
I believe that the true root cause of poverty is a lack of God in our lives. All other dysfunctions emerge because of this one. When we lack God, we lack respect for ourselves. A whole series of maladies tend to manifest themselves in a soul with no solid spiritual anchor: alcoholism, abuse, abortion, drug use, prostitution, promiscuity, violence, thievery or any other evil that you can imagine.
While I was the Director of the Chicago CCHD, I was told by some...clergy that we should not be talking about spiritual poverty in regard to the CCHD’s goals. If a group claims that the Catholic Church is no longer interested in helping save the souls of the poor, then something inside that group is certainly rotten.
I will go further - consistently placing other goals ahead of the salvation of souls, hyperbolically claiming that there  other "greatest calamities" "worst threats" "most dreadful outcomes" is a certain way for more of us to be lost.

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