Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Catholics may need to "Atlas Shrug"

Ayn Rand is known for her rather goofy opus called "Atlas Shrugged," where industrialists, feeling "unappreciated," eventually "go on strike" and "disappear," until ungrateful society begs them to "return." This was, needless to say, a quite godless and unspiritual book, but generations have found it fascinating, and that's cool.

It occurs to me that the Roman Catholic Church needs to borrow a leaf from "Atlas Shrugged" and simply walk away from many of the social services programs that they have in place. Why do I feel this way? For three reasons:

1. In progressive and anti-Catholic or anti-Christian governments there is pressure on Catholic charities to loosen their doctrine in return for continuing to receive government money. My advice: walk away from those programs totally. Let them give the money to someone else to do their "social programs" their way. It is a blessing in disguise as the Church can concentrate its mission on what is central: the saving of souls and the transmission of solid faith formation.

2. I obviously do not feel this way in the truly needy populations of the world where the Catholic Church provides vital and often willfully invisible (as in pointedly ignored by the media) services to the most dire of the sick and the poor. So shift the resources that Catholics give from the ungrateful areas (that obviously have "other sources") to those who are truly thankful and in need. It only makes sense. If you give the same gift every Christmas to two sons, and one thanks you and the other punches you in the face, I would suggest giving both gifts to the son who thanks you.

3. The world is not starved for social services programs; it is starved for sanctity and prayer. I think the Catholic Church needs to downsize its social involvement, even where it is sad and painful to do so, in order to return to prayerful and dedicated attention to the sacraments, education and overall sanctity. Downsize and refocus the mission. That way all those critics of the Catholic Church will have to change from criticizing the way we conducted our social programs to criticizing us for not having enough social programs. That would be cool, like bonus points, to the main purpose which is to refocus on the sacred work.

Jesus Christ brought God, not a soup kitchen community organizer. Plenty of charity can indeed and must be done through individual, congregation and community involvement, but I believe the time for us to lead large social programs is over when so many don't give a flying you know what if we do AND seek to erode them and use them as ways to whip up hatred against the Catholic Church.

I say, take the money we use in social programs in the higher developed countries and regions and instead reallocate and devote them to the formation of priests and other religious. Hey, isn't that what everyone is saying we ought to do? "Clean up" all those "bad priests?" Save an altar boy?

Not to minimize at all, as my regular readers know, my zero tolerance for sexual and other abuse or emotionally predatory behavior. So don't waste my time thinking I'm not condemning all abuse in the strongest terms, as I have all along.

But it has come to the point where not a single article about anything good, bad, or neutral can appear in the press without hate mongers commenting about sodomy and rape and buggering and whatever. So I say make them happy and withdraw from all social programs ALL of them in the better developed areas of the world and let them find "alternative providers." Use the social services program funding to "clean up all those pedophiles," you know, all the ones who flock to the Catholic Church. Yep, let's do that. Take the money from the social programs and use them for priest and religious formation. Seriously, as we all know the aging population of faithful religious live in great poverty and often in worse conditions than the people they dedicated their lives to serving.

I'd like to see the Catholic Church just walk away from MANY of the social services programs and instead invest those alms that are donated and income that is generated by the church toward inward, prayerful places and people of sanctity.

Ta ta I say. What say you? I think that would be music to the ears of those who demean all the Catholic Church has done. Win-win, then, no?