A group of 100 Catholic theologians, academics and ministers from universities around the nation have developed a document spelling out what they see as threats to The Common Good. As a Roman Catholic, I appreciate the clear message in the document, which is very compatible with the Circle of Protection campaign. The document, which is entitled On All Our Shoulders: A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good, is especially applicable during the current electoral season. Here are some excerpts.
We write as Catholic theologians, academics and ministers concerned for our nation and for the integrity of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. We write to hold up aspects of the Church's social doctrine that are profoundly relevant to the challenges our nation faces at this moment in history, yet are in danger of being ignored. At a moment when the ideas of Atlas Shrugged influence public debate and policy, we write to proclaim the Catholic truth that the stewardship of common good rests upon all of our shoulders together. This is a responsibility we dare not shrug.
America is at a tipping point where the traditional commitment of our government to protecting and advancing the common good is in very real danger of being dismantled for generations. Members of the "Tea Party," libertarians, Ayn Rand followers and other proponents of small government have brought libertarian views of government into the mainstream; legitimating forms of social indifference. After decades of anti-government rhetoric and "starve the beast" tax cuts, some even appear to exploit predictable fiscal problems to establish a privatized, libertarian order that reduces society to a collection of individuals and shrinks the common good to fit the outcomes achievable by private, for profit firms.
Legitimate disagreements with the Obama administration must not lead the Church to edit the fullness of its teachings for political expediency. Our political obligations as Catholics go beyond choosing a candidate for which to vote.. In the words of Faithful Citizenship (U.S. Catholic Bishops statement on voting), our participation should help transform the party to which we belong." Ours is a moment that demands the fullness of the Church's teachings as few others have. To be truly prophetic, the Church—bishops, clergy and lay faithful—must proclaim the fullness of its message to all parties, movements, and powers.
Click here to view the full document.
The list of scholars and ministers who signed the document is very impressive. It includes clergy and lay persons; Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, Maryknolls and Jesuits; Catholic scholars for worker Justice; Catholic workers; and faculty from LeMoyne College, Andover Newton Theological School, Santa Clara University, and the University of Notre Dame. I recently had a chance to met one of the theologians who signed the document Rev. Thomas Massaro, Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. I actually met him before I knew that he had signed on to this document. In my conversation with Rev. Massaro, I discovered that he is a strong supporter of Bread for the World. I did recognize one other name on the list: Bill Quigley, who teaches at Loyola University-New Orleans School of Law. And there was one other person from my alma mater, Alex Mikulich of Loyola's Jesuit Social Research Institute.