"It is good for Catholic universities to host and engage the thoughts of powerful public figures, even Catholics such as yourself who fail to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching."Yet, as Father Sirico points out, their single objection to Speaker Boehner's understanding of Catholic social justice teaching clearly reveals their own failure to understand it. The writers of this embarrassing letter counsel that: "From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor." This, of course, is true. But Sirico insists that any real understanding of Catholic social teaching would also include a recognition that one cannot jump "seamlessly" between a principle and its application. As he puts it:
To jump so seamlessly from the Magisterium's insistence on the fundamental and non-negotiable moral obligation to the poor to the specifics of contingent, prudential, and political legislation is wholly unjustified in Catholic social teaching.This sums it up nicely, but there is much more to it, so read the whole exchange. I think Father Sirico's response, moreover, is a masterful and devastatingly polite answer to people who barely deserve such graciousness but get it, anyway, because Father Sirico is a true Christian. This is a real demonstration, not only of his faith, but of the very real and persuasive power behind it.
Catholic social thought is about the empowerment of the poor. It is not about failed policies of social assistance that treat poor people as problems to be solved rather than as people with potential to be unleashed.Abraham Lincoln was no Catholic, but I don't think he could have said it better.