'People's platform' right for what's wrong, wrong for doing it right

There is a troubling characteristic of progressives to rely on government to solve all the problems. I've even heard folks comment that a "true humanism" obtains when government takes care of all the needs of its citizens. Poor Government! It was never meant to work so hard.

In this sense, Tony Magliano's political platform for all people (Making a Difference, July 18, 2016), so obviously right regarding what is wrong, gets it all wrong as to doing it right.

We need to correct the wrongs with the least government possible. True humanism is one human helping another human in a spirit of mutual cooperation and love. This humanism relies on Christian virtues lived every day, particularly the Christian virtue of personal poverty which is absolutely necessary for staying awake to the needs of those around us.

A great weight must be put on the individual responsibility of every Catholic, particularly laity engaged in human affairs, to be Jesus Christ and thus to bring Jesus Christ into her or his environment: into work, into family, into society.

Unfortunately, Mr. Magliano simplistically relies on government programs: the redistribution of tax dollars from the military budget to curing poverty but this impersonal approach to charity has not proven successful in the past 100 hundred years because it does not touch the hearts of either the giver or receiver.

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The social teaching of the Catholic church was never intended to inform government programs but human consciences. Here in the United States, we got off on the wrong foot in 1917 when the U.S. bishops organized the National Catholic War Council to preach the "duty" of all Catholics to support the war effort. This coercion of consciences, by the predecessor of the USCCB, makes God small by demonstrating skepticism that the Catholic lay person -- informed by the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the church -- is capable of making proper decisions in his or her personal engagement with the world.

Yet, this is where the true revolution lies and it starts in the heart of vibrant Christian families where the basic lessons of a person's dignity and responsibility to the world are learned. Our revolutionary creed is spelled out in Familiaris Consortio and Amoris Laetitia. Let's read these, learn their lessons, and do our part.

[Tom McDonough is the author of An Eye For Others, Dorothy Day, Journalist: 1916-1917.]

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