Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The good press on Catholics

The late, great Deacon Hugo May, who was became good friend of mine after I was received into the Church, and who baptized our daughter eight years ago, used to say that the Catholic Church is a precious jewel passed from one dirty hand to another down through the years.

He had, of course, a point. It's easy to see only the dirty hands, but one must also remember the precious jewel. That is, at least, half of his point:

The other half of the point, of course, is that we must not so romanticize the jewel that we fail to see the dirt on the hands, and the fact that the dirty hands are also, at times, our own.

Only Christianity avoids these two dangers -- (1) the danger of an idealism that so romanticizes the aspirations of human nature that it loses sight of our aberrations, and (2) the danger of a realism that is honest about the aberrations of human nature, but at the cost of denying our aspirations.

We have two core doctrines that speak to both sides of this dilemma -- (a) the doctrine of creation, which tells us that we were made in the image and likeness of God, for glory and greatness, and (b) the doctrine of original sin, which tells us that we have fallen, through our own grievous fault, into Gollum-like selfishness, smallness, malice, cruelty and sin. Only a religion that does justice to both our aspirations and our aberrations can be true. The Church, a precious jewel passed from one dirty hand to another down through the years.

Related: Thomas E. Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization(Regnery, rpt., 20012).


bill bannon said...

On who does the most charity work, I've never seen an analysis that separates out governmental funding and insurance funding passing through the Catholic system and therefore coming from tax payers and all individuals. In 2010 Medicaid spent $401 billion on the non affluent (the Vatican might have $1 billion in savings from which it gave $300,000 each to Iraq, Haiti, and Japan in their distresses). In short the Vatican could not afford one day out of 365 of Medicaid's outgoing payments to the non affluent. That partly covers 60% of those in Catholic old age homes and
37% of childbirth related bills in Catholic hospitals. Any
nun or brother working as a nurse but foregoing the
lifestyle that job now affords is indeed to be praised
lavishly...the head of Catholic Charities Baltimore, a Mr.
McCarthy, though made over $341,000 for 2012 ( check
"Charity Navigator" on line). In short I think the area of who gives the most has changed. I suspect taxpayers are now the world's greatest helpers of the poor. I think the nun or brother doing nursing or doctoring among the indigenous people in Paraguay even if with government funding to help them is yes....a jewel in the eyes of God. But a breakdown of money sources coursing through Catholic charities is yet to be analzyed and in the US, much of it is tax payer and insurance payer funded. Catholics gave $60 million to Haiti which averages a dollar each ( Jolie and Brad Pitt gave a million)....but the Knights of Columbus stayed in the situation well after tv left and they gave til it hurt and
beyond. Just sayin'....it's no longer a world in which the funding is obvious. Those in the vow of poverty ( or parallel Proestants etc.) doing medical work and if foregoing affluent medical salaries...are however among the greatest jewels.

Anonymous said...

Oh thats good I plan to borrow it from you.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Hi Bill,

You have a point, but I think it's just a point. It goes without saying that this isn't a question about how much the Vatican gives, since it's probably as much a recipient of charity as a giver.

But I've always found it interesting to ask Jehovah's Witnesses about their major charities in Africa, S. America, and other Third World countries. They don't have any. The same is true of numerous non-Catholic groups. They take care of their own, if that; but little if anything to others. During the 9/11 aftermath, the KofC provided for widows and orphans of Muslim families. Go figure.

You raise some good questions, but a study of historical provision for the poor and hungry (a guy named Carter has one) would show that charity was the purview of the Church and her monasteries until the "Reformation," when the Protestants in Germany tried to substitute a state-run treasury for the poor. The problem? Nobody wanted to give. William Cobbett says that before Henry VIII wrecked and looted and dissolved the monasteries, there were monasteries all across England, each within a maximum of three miles from the other. Interesting stuff.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Mr. Barron. The govt's donations that they distribute as charity are arrived at due to the threat that if you do not give them their money they will throw your liberty-loving ass in stir; oh, yeah, they also steal your money from your paycheck before it gets to you but if that is your idea of charity, go thrown-in with the Amish.

I understand they are always in need of pickle-makers and mule skinners.