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Federal debt as a social-justice concern

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 19, 2014

If the head of an ordinary household deliberately and continually spends much more than the family earns, we describe him as irresponsible—yes, and sinful. So Father Jerry Pokorsky asks why the same moral standards are not applied to government spending.

Writing for The Catholic Thing, Father Pokorsky observes that most Catholic priests tend to support federal spending programs without carefully considering the consequences. “I’ve noticed that a lot of the clergy hardly ever (well, never) talk or write about the national debt as a social justice issue.,” he says. “But it’s immoral for one generation to steal from another generation.”

By asking the reader to imagine a family that incurs debt at the same reckless pace as the US government, Father Pokorsky dramatizes the problem. The likely results of continued uncontrolled spending, he notes, are a complete economic collapse and/or runaway inflation—either of which would have devastating results for the poor. He concludes, therefore, that advocates of “social justice” should recognize the urgent need to bring spending under control.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Dec. 20, 2014 7:14 PM ET USA

    The 18 trillion official debt, even expressed as $150,000 per taxpayer is too abstract to express as an immediate moral question. We are reaching the point where the men and women waking at 5 or 6am and going to work, passing the houses of idle people asleep until their favorite television programming starts is unsustainable. The dependency class looks upon the working class as too unfortunate (or too stupid) to obtain free stuff.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Dec. 19, 2014 8:25 PM ET USA

    There was a strong Catholic voice in the 1930s in Rev. Charles Coughlin. He did much to defend the small people from the big money people. Eventually his Bishop told him to zip it. I wonder if he had been supported by his Bishop and others if we would be in the appalling financial situation of today. At the end of time we may ask God why he didn't send us witnesses and He will reply that He did but we treated them like the Jews treated His prophets.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Dec. 19, 2014 5:47 PM ET USA

    Fr. Jerry is one of the wisest and most financially astute members of the clergy. Lamentably, I rather suspect that only a few priests and bishops will understand or want to understand what he is saying.