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Catholic Social Teachings: Are the Bishops Fishing, Or Not?

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Apr 14, 2010

I recently began reading Benedictine College School of Business’ Journal of International Business, starting with a complimentary issue received in the mail. So far, I enjoy reading the material that it presents (but haven’t yet read enough to make a recommendation).

I do have something from the Journal to comment on: a statement made by Professor Amata Miller in the published address “Economics and Social Justice: The Vision of Catholic Social Teaching” (delivered in September 2009 at Benedictine College). In the address, Miller states: “Before addressing the principles of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and what CST is, it is necessary to address what CST is not.” While, pursuing the “is nots”, Miller continues:

CST is not an effort to proselytize in a country, such as in the U.S., where church and state are separate. When the principles of CST are invoked, it is not an attempt to make everyone Catholic. When the bishops testify before Congress, they are not trying to make the country Catholic. They have said that the intent of CST is twofold: to help Catholics form their own consciences and to stimulate the moral dimensions of debates about public issues.

Well, yes and no.

All Catholics are called to evangelize. Of the world’s religions, only the Catholic Church possesses the complete Truth, and it is our mission to call others to Truth. If you are trying to move people towards the truth, inevitably you are moving people towards Christ and the Church.

CST is drawn from the natural law and confirmed in Revelation. To say that one can invoke/advance/promote CST in a public forum without attempting to proselytize is like saying that one can bait a hook and throw it in the water, but not be fishing. To say that you are not fishing is mere political expediency.

And if asked, would a Catholic bishop deny that he desired for the entire country be converted to Catholicism? I hope not.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: richardols3892 - Apr. 21, 2010 9:58 AM ET USA

    I would hope that the bishops not want the entire country to convert to Catholicism. One of the results could be the sort of complacency and abuse that led to the Reformation. Our non-Catholic friends are a good tonic to Catholic triumphalism, and even the foes of our religion serve to keep us on our toes.

  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 17, 2010 1:40 PM ET USA

    Ah, but I enjoy it when the various denominations come knocking at my door. I like pointing out the error of their ways and why our Church is the one, holy and apostolic one. Taken to another level, it is the mission for all of us (including the Benedictines, BTW) to evangelize. Who knows, maybe we'll fill the various religious orders if we do. The bishops testifying before Congress? They don't seem to have much luck with those who say they are Catholic, do they?

  • Posted by: jbryant_132832 - Apr. 15, 2010 7:22 PM ET USA

    To answer the rhetorical question - Are "the Bishops" Fishing, Or Not? ... I am reminded of the story where the apostles had been fishing all night and caught nothing. That's what happens when individual bishops collectivize their authority under the USCCB banner and delegate the decision making to a bunch of lay bureaucrats.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 15, 2010 10:56 AM ET USA

    Unfortunately, I believe it would be much easier using anecdotal evidence and the written word to argue in the affirmative to that last question than in the negative. It is difficult to imagine an unambiguous statement on the part of any bishop or bishops' organization expressing a profound desire that all non-Catholics put aside all heretical opinions and embrace the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Roman Catholic Church. Nobody really believes that stuff these days any way, do they?

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