The purpose of the Church is to reach out and draw all of its members to communion with God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church does this by presenting age after age the message of Jesus and also joins us with Jesus through our sacramental life. In carrying out this mission, it tries to convey to the entire world a message based on truth and love, a message that has tremendous implications for justice and fairness. These virtues are affected by the economic system present at any given moment.
For most of the last 2,000 years virtually the entire world’s economy was based on agriculture. That changed with the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century bringing tremendous change to human life, including a vast increase in wealth and prosperity. But not everyone shared equally in these new developments. In the late 19th century, Pope Leo XIII saw that the Industrial Revolution and its later developments were inflicting tremendous pain and suffering on the poor workers in the urban centers of Europe and North America. He wrote his famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum which laid out a structure of responsibilities reminding employers of their responsibilities to be fair and just with their workers, and that those workers had the right to organize in order to defend their economic interests. In those days, that economy was mostly one of shops and small plants where workers and employers were often in face to face situations.
By the 1930’s, the world of the small plant by an individual or family gave way as nationwide industries developed and thus Pope Pius XI wrote the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno which built on the work of Leo XIII and dealt now with problems related to nation-wide economies.
After World War II with the decolonization of the people of Africa, the possibility of a one world economy expanded tremendously and as a result in 1963 that magnificent pope John XXIII wrote a document that had tremendous impact in the Church and on the world entitled Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth. It dealt with this new worldwide economy many years before any of us were routinely referring to the reality of an integrated world economy. The document came out in 1963 and made a powerful impression on Church leaders all over world. Fifty years have passed since the encyclicals issued and in the next couple of days I will give you my opinion of the affect that it has had in this painful and agonizing half century.
Share on Facebook
Image from KTLA.com
I think that most of us have had enough of Lance Armstrong for a while. This is yet another example of the fact that when we do bad things the best line of action is to admit it. Invariably the cover-up is much worse than the original offense. Richard Nixon was a great example of that. Now we have the mighty Lance Armstrong. Lying is despicable but when you lie, lie, lie and continue on for years, even when your lies hurt and crush other people, finally being forced to come clean does not in any way purify the offender.
I am amused by TV commentators often asking the rhetorical question as to whether or not Lance Armstrong can redeem himself by the process in which he has been passing through for the last two weeks. Redeem himself? The damage has been done and now after nearly a decade of lying the American people are still very doubtful that he is really telling the whole truth now. He has had his years in the sunshine and received the honors of one who is supposed to be a great champion. Now he is in the shadows and I think the skies may get darker still.
We should all try to do good and avoid evil but if human frailty brings you into mistakes and error, the best, safest and easiest response is to tell the truth.
Share on Facebook
Tragically, the Catholic Church has stumbled through the last twenty years desperately trying to extricate itself from the biggest scandal of the last century or two, namely the issue of child sex abuse. While much progress has been made, serious work is still before us.
I hope that no reader will take any pleasure or satisfaction out of the fact that the same problem has hit another wonderful organization supposedly set up to help and protect children, namely the Boy Scouts of America. Recently, the president of the Boy Scouts of America apologized for the release of a cache of documents detailing accusations of abuse and “many thousands of victims” allegedly committed by over 1,200 scout leaders between 1965 and 1985. Like the Church, the Scouts first tried to prevent the documents from being released. The Scouts themselves now call these records the “perversion files.”
Where will it stop? These revelations don’t let Penn State off the hook nor the British Broadcasting Company or any other organization that attempts to cover up these crimes in order to protect its “reputation.” Surely, after all this pain, agony, suffering and scandal institutional leaders should take the necessary internal controls to make every effort to eliminate this cancer from our society to the greatest extent possible.
What is the common denominator that ripples through each one of these large organizations causing them to act so foolishly, immorally and destructively? In my opinion, the disease that infects the brains of leaders of organizations is the erroneous feeling that the organization comes first. “Yes, individuals get hurt. Yes, mistakes are made. But you’ve got to protect the name of the organization.” This is so foolish. It is a terrible mistake. The fact is, the truth almost always comes out and when it does the cover-up will be seen by the world as a much worse crime than the original offense. Wake up leaders of the world. Haven’t we had enough experience to have finally learned the facts?
Share on Facebook
March 27th, Third Sunday of Lent
Today’s Gospel is an absolutely delightful story. A long excerpt from John’s fourth chapter is the fascinating story of Jesus passing through Samaria having an important conversation with a Samaritan woman at the town well. Violating the social rules and custom of the day, Jesus, a single Jewish male, asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. That brings on a marvelous conversation between the two in which the woman tries to artfully change the subject each time Jesus gently directs her towards being completely honest. This simple story, about which all of us are familiar, has many implicit meanings and values. One is the relationship between Jesus and women. Another is the relationship between ourselves and foreigners.
Next week we get another wonderful story, namely that of the man born blind. Don’t miss it!
Share on Facebook