Three Cheers For The Wall Street Journal
Seldom have I read such pithy exposition of Catholic thinking from a non-specialised media outlet.
Try this (emphases always mine):
Wealth and poverty are catalysts for bringing the rich and the poor together in community, and community is the hallmark of the church’s mission on Earth. Government is not community. Government is one of community’s tools, a coercive one we use when it is necessary to force people to behave in ways they would not otherwise behave voluntarily.
Already these three lines are of devastating effect for all those – very many in old, tired Europe – identifying Government with “good”, and the vehicle through which every “good” must be, well, coerced.
It goes on:
But that word—voluntarily—is key, and it’s where Mr. Ryan’s religious detractors go awry: Charity can only be charity when it is voluntary. Coerced acts, no matter how beneficial or well-intentioned, cannot be moral. If we force people to give to the poor, we have stripped away the moral component, reducing charity to mere income redistribution. And if one really is as good as the other, the Soviets demonstrated long ago that it can be done far more efficiently without the trappings of church and religion.
This is another good dollop of sanity which would (I assure you, oh fortunate American readers) surprise many a European, because they have been trained to think basically from the cradle – and from elementary school at the latest – that coercion is the way to achieve an outcome considered “moral”. This is at the root of the oppressive Nanny-ism present in particular in the English society, with an army of busybodies intent in trying to crucify perfectly normal drinkers and smokers out of the completely bonkers persuasion that they must be saved from themselves.
We see an extremely disquieting reflex of this thinking – Government legislates about morality, therefore morality is the monopoly of the Government – in the more and more automatic desire to ban whatever the Government does not approve of. For example, once Government has given sodomites official recognition, the questioning of their perversion should be made illegal – under the guise of “hate crime”, “homophobia”, or “discrimination” – because if the Government has decided for the morality of a behaviour, this morality cannot be publicly questioned without being subversive.
The article mentioned echoes this with the following words:
All people have the moral obligation to care for those who are less fortunate. But replacing morality with legality is the first step in replacing church, religion and conscience with government, politics and majority vote.
When you replace morality with legality, you give the legislator – and in modern terms, the Government – the monopoly over morality. A dictatorship of government-given oppressors ensues, because this mentality unavoidably tends to make opposition to one’s own moral positions illegal. It there is a menace to freedom nowadays, it is this tendency of thinking and legislating in terms of “hate”.
Then the hammer falls directly on the genitals of the US Church hierarchy, so short-sighted and enslaved to easy populism for many decades and now about to pay the price of their inanity. The WSJ authors put it in these words:
The bishops dance with the devil when they invite government to use its coercive power on their behalf, and there’s no clearer example than the Affordable Care Act. They happily joined their moral authority to the government’s legal authority by supporting mandatory health insurance. They should not have been surprised when the government used its reinforced power to require Catholic institutions to pay for insurance plans that cover abortions and birth control.
The Church asked the government to be the coercive enforcer of morality, and now the enforcer wants to do the same with them. In a last beautiful warning, the article states:
To paraphrase J.R.R. Tolkien (a devoted Catholic), the government does not share power. Paul Ryan knows this. The bishops would be wise to listen to him.
Three cheers for the WSJ for hosting such enlightened minds on their columns.