POLITICAL PAPIST COLUMNIST
If you follow any Gen-Z bloggers, Instagram or Tumblr accounts or Twitter profiles, you’ve probably seen complaints about the “rich white men” who run the economy, who run for office and who run away from the idea of giving up even a penny of their wealth.
It appears, on the surface, that media users’ condemning sentiment shames these people for their lack of charity, saying that they should share their goods with the rest of society. This is true in some sense; even the Gospels mention how the rich are sometimes poor in compassion and generosity.
However, when the government is dragged into matters of charity — as it is in Socialism — it may be more harmful than helpful. There are three underlying principles of Socialism as identified in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum,” which I highly recommend you read. I’ll spend the next three articles talking about these principles.
Hot take number one: Socialism relies on envy, which gives way to false charity.
Socialist ideology will have you think that the point is equality of wealth and resources. The “rich white men” prevent economic fairness, don’t you know? They claim that the “wealthy one percent” forces America into unfair social classes. Because one group of people happens to have more goods than another, Socialists break the Ninth Commandment; they promote redistribution of money and property in hopes of gaining more for themselves. Why? They believe themselves entitled to the same wealth as the “upper crust” and believe the government should play God by doling out boons. Socialism thrives on the envy and greed of humanity.
When the government gets involved, there is no leveling of the playing field. Instead, the government taxes the living daylights out of anyone who has the diligence and blessing to have a well-paid position and takes away their rightful property. Whether you like it or not, the government will remove a large portion of your hard-earned salary and direct it toward whatever program it deems deserving.
Check Russia and Cuba as examples of Socialism’s lovely effects. See how well the taxes worked in sharing … what? Not wealth but poverty and squalor because the politicians took control of money and property, and thereby the people. There was no compassion for the poor; there was no charity. Who are we to think America — with its corrupt senators, disdain for the Constitution and lack of personal charity — will be any better?
I fear the day that Catholics see the needy and do not think, “It is my duty as a fellow human being to love my neighbor as myself, as the Lord commanded,” but instead say, “I don’t need to do anything; the government will probably take care of it.”
It is not the government’s role to steal from the successful to give to the less fortunate. Catholics should assist the impoverished out of compassion, not through the government’s taxes, which conveniently diminish our responsibility to practice charity in our daily lives. Moreover, envy is a sin expressly condemned by sacred Scripture and sacred tradition. Instead of bitterly envying the goods that others have, Catholics should thank the Lord for the gifts they have.
I like to envision St. Francis and his friars, the poorest of the poor — after whom our university is named — who were satisfied by their portion. There was no envy, only charity, for they knew that material goods were not as important as spiritual goods. I like to think, too, of the impoverished widow who tithed all her money out of love for God. She did not envy the rich Pharisees who gave much out of love for themselves. Their spiritual state was more destitute than her material state could ever be. And may we always ask St. Vincent de Paul, the patron of charitable societies whose feast day was last week, for proper discernment in serving the poor!
If none of this convinces you, the bottom line is that Socialism has been formally condemned by the Church, meaning the faithful should not, in good conscience, support it. Socialism and Catholicism are not compatible, for the former hinders the true charity of the latter and is born from envy and greed … and that’s only the beginning.
Thus, I challenge Catholics to examine their relationship to those wealthier than they. What do you value most? Are you charitable with your time, talent and treasure, even if you have very little of it? Are you poor in possessions, or in faith?