Assistance should come from charities, individuals

Re: “Pro-life and social justice Catholics increasingly at odds” (News Analysis, Oct. 28). 

There is an aspect that wasn’t addressed that I believe is significant. I generally prefer that assistance to the needy be offered from individuals and private charities rather than from the government. It is my observation that the “social justice” Catholics, including some bishops, focus heavily on our support for government programs as the key vehicle for assistance. So, for instance, when Republicans say we should focus more on controlling government spending and paying down the national debt, they are criticized for “wanting to hurt the poor” and for not adhering to Catholic social doctrine. It’s important to consider that the function of the government in America was not intended to be as caretaker for the poor, and I contend that the government is not very good at it. Government assistance consists of forcibly extracting funds from some people to give to others; that’s not charity in the Catholic sense. If we took the billions of tax dollars spent on assistance programs and put it back in the hands of individuals, they could then direct the funds to their favorite charity and feel much more comfortable that it’s being spent and administered in the most efficient and effective manner by those who are very passionate about assisting the needy rather than being spent by government bureaucrats. I know some would say that the level of care might be reduced, but that’s debatable, and it would still be a more Christian approach to assisting the needy and much more spiritually beneficial to the giver.

Glen Ernstmann, Greenwood, Mo..

Giving a hand up

“Pro-life and social justice Catholics increasingly at odds” (News Analysis, Oct. 28) lacked full explanation of both issues. Conservative Catholics follow the premise that not only is abortion intrinsically evil, but also euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual marriage. A well-informed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for any political program that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. 

At the same time, the article portrayed the conservative stance as being less compassionate on social issues. The article did not demonstrate that the conservative philosophy of social justice is to offer a hand up, not a hand out. The liberal side of social justice only offers a hand out, and no method for the majority to escape perpetual entrapment in a welfare system. 

Jim Conlin, Cascade, Iowa 

Social justice history

Where did the notion “social justice” come from? 

I am responding to a query made by Patrick Christle in your Nov. 4 Letters to the Editor. He asks “where did the notion ‘social’ justice come from?” The term was first coined by Jesuit Father Luigi Taparelli in 1840, but since Pope Pius XI used it in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (On Reconstruction of the Social Order), it has become part of the official teaching of the Church. In suggesting a remedy for economic ills, he states: “the public institutions of the nations should be such as to make all human society conform to the requirements of the common good, that is, the norm of social justice.” (No. 110).

Father John DMello, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.  

Just read Catechism

Re: “Critics: Study designed to support HHS mandate flawed” (News Analysis, Nov. 4) 

Here’s what you need to know about the HHS mandate: 

“A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.

“Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, ‘authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1902 and 1903). 

Aubert L. Lemrise, Peru, Ill. 

Show the numbers

Re: “The Komen alternative” (Eye on Culture, Oct. 28). 

Again Our Sunday Visitor chooses to align breast cancer with abortion. Unless you provide statistics strongly backing the stance of your newspaper, then I strongly urge you to stop. Survey 5,000 women who had breast cancer plus an abortion. Publish clearly the results. 

I am personally offended, as I had breast cancer and can’t ever imagine having an abortion. However, due to your newspaper, I and millions of others are viewed with skepticism.  

As a practicing Catholic, I give and will give to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, whose financial help for research may have saved my life. It is not possible to assess all the women whose lives have been saved through this foundation.  

Breast cancer is not a nice disease. It carries with it a lifelong burden, and we who bear it should not have to contend with Catholics looking at us wondering if we “got it” from an abortion. 

Kathleen Murphy, Maryville, Tenn.