The simple lessons are always the best. If true, they endure. After returning to university as a ‘mature age student’ to study philosophy, a mother of three once explained to me how her snappy contributions from the penny catechism would silence weighty tutorial discussions. These profound one-liners, acquired from the nuns at primary school, would strike her loquacious peers dumb with bewildered admiration.
While she graduated with first class honours, however, it is doubtful that any of her secular colleagues benefited from these little pearls of Catholic wisdom. For the diabolical motto of the modern world, especially when it comes to the teaching Church and its elementary solutions to pervasive socio-economic breakdown, is ‘live and don’t learn.’
Led by Goldman Sachs investment bank, whose income alone rose by nearly half this year, the City of London is set for a collective 50% rise in annual bonuses to a staggering £6 billion (with Goldman staff expecting a salary and bonus package of £440,000). Some firms are again offering loans worth 95% of a property’s value, even though it was this kind of product - like Northern Rock’s 125% mortgage - which brought the whole system crashing down in the first place.
So it’s business as usual for the Masters of the Universe. Yet they would not be in business without the £1 trillion stumped up by British taxpayers to keep the financial system afloat. The same taxpayers who continue to suffer on every conceivable front. Officially, unemployment is already heading for 3 million. At the same time, however, with public finances in their worst state for fifty years and £1-2 trillion of national debt to be repaid, analysts anticipate around £100 billion in tax rises and spending cuts under the next government. “The recession looks more like a depression,” observed one leading economist in late October. “For most workers the pain goes on.”
The proposed sale of government assets - from the Channel Tunnel to the Tote bookmaker - at bargain basement recession prices, to help cut the deficit, will do nothing to salve their sense of injustice. Nor will the simultaneous sight of politicians, up to and including the Chancellor himself, escaping the long arm of the law despite criminal offences against the Theft Act 1968 and the laws against obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception. Acting as its own judge and jury, Westminster is closing ranks around hundreds of crooked MPs guilty of fiddling expenses while hiding behind a quasi-Nuremburg defence of acting within “the rules.” As one newspaper columnist plainly states: “Anyone in any other walk of life who stole on a grand scale from their employer would be sacked and sentenced to serious stretch in prison. The whole system stinks.”
In view of this systemic injustice, replicated to a greater or lesser degree at all levels of society in every corner of the earth, one might conclude that the incomparable body of Catholic social teaching is worth serious consideration. Instead, the great papal encyclicals are rejected in favour of prideful, self-serving parodies of social justice both within and without the Church; siren voices of false peace, false justice and a spurious common good, all dragging us ever deeper into slavish, legalistic conformity. Authoritarian EU socialism and the Copenhagen ‘climate change’ Treaty, both sovereignty-crushing vehicles of the New World Order, epitomise the trend.
The lucrative Human Rights industry has led the way: its naturalistic notions of “justice” giving rise to the self-centred and pernicious ‘victim culture’ which foments societal conflict. Forever chasing a utopian peace through repressive laws and regulations, these worldlings would “completely legislate the common good, if that were possible,” explains Rupert Ederer herein.
This totalitarian mentality is now embraced by many Church bodies and agencies in the name of justice and peace. However, the legislative fiat of rootless socio-political and economic unions can never bind the hearts and minds of men. A Christian revolution of the spiritual and moral order alone can guarantee abiding peace. Even the irreligious hoi polloi, damaged or ruined by the financial crisis, now sense that something is dreadfully and fundamentally wrong with Western society. Yet when, by the grace of God, they turn to the Church looking for succour and direction, they are handed identical secular stones instead of spiritual bread.
Take the guidelines for a Writing Competition advertised at a local parish. Arranged by the Justice and Peace committee “in association with local churches, schools and other groups,” they are welcoming poetry, short stories, plays and essays “centred on the theme of Justice and Peace (generously interpreted).”
To ensure potential entrants crack this bracketed code, they go on to spell it out: “We hope for a wide range of entries, some of which may well have a religious flavour (not necessarily Christian) but work which is essentially secular will be equally welcome.”
In case the numbskulls still don’t get it, they click their heels and yell, à la Goebbels: “To repeat - we are looking for quality. Good literature is NOT propaganda” (read: ‘Good literature is not Catholic propaganda! Politically correct propaganda will do nicely, thank you!’)
As I read the flyer - grimacing and groaning like a lunatic at each insidious line - ‘generously interpreted’ contributions pushing ‘essentially secular’ Justice & Peace agendas of ‘irreligious flavour’ flashed before me: carbon footprints, whales, nuclear missiles, condoms, Barack Obama....
Shortly afterwards, on the other side of the world, I picked up a parish newsletter in Queensland which reinforced this universal sell out. An item headed “Social Justice” tied the Holy Mass and the Eucharist to “Climate Action,” before proudly announcing: “Last Saturday, the [Justice and Peace] Commission participated in the global day of action on climate change by handing out information on climate change in the centre of Brisbane City.”
Meanwhile, an American pro-life blogger announces that she has belatedly joined calls to dismantle the U.S. Bishops’ Conference due to its “getting on the Green Movement bandwagon [despite] the Greens having allied with the abortion movement.” She goes on: “[The Bishops’] Climate Change Justice Initiative is embarrassing. A political cartoon I saw in the Washington Times illustrates how embarrassing. It depicts ‘It used to be’ - a girl is confessing her sins, ‘Forgive Me Father for I have sinned.’ The next panel, ‘Now it’s’ - same girl asks Al Gore to forgive her for her ‘large carbon footprints’.”
Never mind that a Nativity silhouette should be the insignia of all Catholic Justice and Peace Commissions the world over! For to meditate on the Christmas crib is to discover God-given solutions to complex problems. To contemplate St. Joseph and his familial role, for instance, is to understand that justice is not a mere ‘state of affairs’ but a state of grace: a virtuous soul rooted in obedience to the Commandments. Yet how many today perceive Joseph as a “just man” because he, like Moses, was dutiful, pure and obedient? Mainstream Modernism has all but obliterated this supernatural perspective. And if brainwashed Catholics are now so clueless, how can greedy, self-serving bankers and politicians possibly comprehend the theological virtue of charity embodied by St. Joseph and his family as the only possible foundation of genuine and lasting reform of the social order, not to say the financial system?
I leave it to the Dr Ederer to articulate the truth in this regard. Indeed, consider his essay as the de-facto winning entry of our local Writing Competition; the Catholic antithesis of its pagan ‘guidelines’ and all corrupting parish and episcopal ‘initiatives’ perverting peace, justice and the common good.
We also offer it as a small homage to Father Paul Crane, S.J., who for nearly forty years set forth Catholic social teaching in these pages as the antidote to both Socialism and laissez-faire Capitalism. All the while he encouraged Catholic homes to imitate the Holy Family in order to lay the bedrock foundation for rebuilding the dissolute West. He penned many lovely Christmas editorials on the subject, which reduce to this: St. Joseph as a living template of the only justice that counts, heading a perfect familial union of hearts and minds which is “the main principle of stability in all institutions, no matter how perfect they may seem, which aim at establishing social peace and promoting mutual aid” [Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno].
In concluding CO’s 50th year of publication, therefore, I can offer no better counsel than my predecessor’s yearly reminder that the heavenly answers to our seemingly intractable dilemmas radiate from the lessons of Bethlehem. Gift-wrapped in swaddling and Divinely guaranteed, they endure in simplicity and Truth. Heed them.