The truth about social justice and the moral life

Prudence advises against trying to transform the world by allying ourselves with people who want a self-sufficient world with no place for Christianity.

(Image: Malu Laker/

The point of Catholic morality is to tell us how best to live.

Some are inclined to make it mostly about social justice. When the bishops issue a statement condemning pornography, they say it should have been about economics instead. They say that would do more to promote a good way of life.

Such views line up with public discussion today, which finds traditional conceptions of individual morality interfering, unforgiving, and judgmental. Situations are said to differ too much to talk about in the abstract, so many favor a sort of lifestyle ecumenism that looks for the good in all ways of life.

As a practical matter, that means a tendency toward lifestyle libertarianism, along with a comprehensive system of social welfare. The goal, people believe, should be an equal and compassionate society in which everyone is supported and accepted, so they aren’t forced into desperate situations. Then the bad conduct people criticize will disappear as hard-pressed people become free to choose better things.

So many think. But how much good does that way of thinking do for anyone? Social justice has to do with the general structure and functioning of society. How much can most people do about that? And how can social justice tell them how to live?

It seems an attractive cause for people who think they have their lives in order, and want to put everything else in order. As such it’s a natural view for academics, bureaucrats, and other professionals and functionaries. Less well-placed people are likely to find the personal drama of sin and salvation more gripping than questions of social policy.

That applies even more to people in difficult circumstances. They don’t control the social order—nobody does, outside of extreme tyrannies. So what should they do if they want a better life right now?

Religious and moral tradition offers answers. We all need God, if only because we need to see the world as a place that somehow makes sense and in which we and those we care about matter. And we need an ordered life in which we can live sensibly and have people we love. That means avoidance of lying, violence, addiction, and so on, charity toward those immediately around us, and readiness to do what we can to make things better for ourselves and them.

All these things have to do with traditional understandings of personal morality. In recent decades institutional Catholicism in Latin America has spoken a great deal about a “preferential option for the poor,” which sounds like it makes social justice the great concern of the Church. The people there have responded by leaving the Church in favor of Protestant sects with less academic jargon and more evident interest in leading them to God and a life worth living.

There’s also the question how beneficial social justice efforts are likely to be. That depends, of course, on what “social justice” is. It can refer to any number of concrete actions to help people with problems. If someone reads about an earthquake somewhere and chips in to relief efforts then he’s helping people with special difficulties and that might be called social justice.

But “justice” seems a property of systems as a whole, so the term usually relates to something much more comprehensive. As the suburban yard signs say, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So “social justice” seems to tell us to get involved with everything in the world.

Given human limitations, is that going to work? As far as I can tell, today’s social justice Catholicism is consistent with secular progressive conceptions of social justice. These reflect a desire to remake the whole social world on a technological model. You decide what you want, design the right process, provide the right inputs, and put it all into effect in a controlled and thoroughgoing way with the help of scientific expertise.

Apply that approach to the whole of social life, and you get a demand for comprehensive bureaucratic management of human affairs. The goal is a system that arranges human relations and the production and distribution of economic goods so that everybody gets a materially comfortable way of life and—in line with today’s lifestyle libertarianism—their various purposes and self-defined identities get equally favored.

The advantage of that approach is that it embodies the current understanding of rationality. Also, the power of modern state bureaucracy makes it seem able to do anything. So the approach looks achievable in a direct and knowable way. Adhere to it, and you can feel you’re helping solve all the world’s problems.

But it has certain requirements. The people must be trained to be compliant citizens and productive assets, and attached to the rewards and punishments—chiefly relating to careers, consumer goods, and social acceptability—that the system has available to motivate cooperation. Beyond that, alternative loyalties and sources of authority that disrupt the system or make it less effective must be eliminated. That requires the weakening of cultural and religious connections, along with radical equality along the traditional dimensions of identity, like sex and inherited community, that define them.

Many Catholics don’t like that result because it leaves out higher goods, human agency, and particular solidarities. More fundamentally, though, the plan won’t work. It’s like socialism but more comprehensive. Administrators are to create utopia by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving dignity to the marginalized, and so on. Socialism failed when it tried to do a fraction of that. The crude simplicity of bureaucratic ways of knowing and acting meant that when applied to something complex and subtle they became stupid and tyrannical. They treated people like cogs and that wrecked normal social functioning.

The Catechism provides a conception of social justice that recognizes such complexities. It tells us that social justice has to do with providing “the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation” (par 1928). It thus means something like “providing appropriate support to a social order in which individuals and associations can act in accordance with what they are and do what they are called to do.”

As such, it requires a balance among multiple centers of activity that can be fostered but not forced. So it’s helpful as a guiding principle but hard to campaign for and impose in any very general way. I’ve noted, for example, that social justice includes an obligation on the part of public authority “to safeguard public morality” in order to ensure “the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family.” More could no doubt be done in that direction—for example, getting pornography out of public school libraries.

But there’s evidently a limit how far it can be pushed.

The triumphs and failures of social justice—of attempts to enable human activity in accordance with nature and vocation and so bring about a better life—usually have very little to do with “social justice” as a slogan. Freer trade and economic liberalization have done far more than socialism and foreign aid to enable the workers of the world to provide for themselves and their families by productive labor. And the BLM movement seems to have enabled criminality and disabled law enforcement, deeply contradicting social justice and leading to a huge increase in violent death.

What to do? Proponents of some form of Catholic social justice have included saintly people—Pope Saint Paul VI, Jacques Maritain, Dorothy Day, Simone Weil. But viewed in retrospect the first two seem shockingly over-optimistic and the last two didn’t claim to be realistic. Today, as Church influence declines and an anti-human state ideology colonizes ever more of life—often through ostensible support of social justice through education, public health, and protection of the vulnerable—it seems that what we need most is the classic political virtue of prudence.

Prudence advises against trying to transform the world by allying ourselves with people who want a self-sufficient world with no place for Christianity. The Church has historically changed politics by acting as a leaven. That’s involved action that expresses Christian understandings, and so insistence that Christians be able to present and live by their faith.

Direct political action, although sometimes necessary, has been far less important. We should remember this.

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About James Kalb 142 Articles
James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism(ISI Books, 2008), Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013), and, most recently, The Decomposition of Man: Identity, Technocracy, and the Church (Angelico Press, 2023).


  1. Progressive Catholics like our current Pope want to effect ‘heaven on earth.’ To accomplish this they’ve invented: synods, listening sessions, social justice, preferential option for the poor, CCHD, CRS, USCCB, WYD, climate-change advocacy, open borders, globalist government, socialism, governmental tyrrany, etc., etc.

    As a Backwardist Catholic, I prefer my Heaven in Heaven and a life-course that helps me get me there that includes the sacramental life of the Church as an essential ingredient.

    • Deacon: You forget that Jesus precisely declared that the requirement to go to heaven in heaven is to help in the attainment of heaven on earth where the needy and vulnerable are actively taken care of. Read Matthew 25:31-46.

      • And Jesus knows (then and now eternally) that the poor will always be with us, not only because of the sins of the poor, but in large part because those who pretend to care, don’t, regardless of how quickly they promote claims about caring. A landmark book published serveral years ago, called, “Who really Cares” was written by a former liberal looking to prove progressives are more caring than conservatives. He discovered the exact opposite. Those who identify as conservatives donate more time and money to helping the downtrodden by rates of ten to one to a hundred to one than self-identified progressives, depending on the activity. Conservatives even donate blood at thirty times the rate of liberals.

        • Edward: What Jesus is saying in Matthew 25:31-46 is expounded by the long thread and tradition of papal social encyclicals (from Leo XIII to Francis) we call the Social Teachings of the Church. This body of magisterial teaching points out that this love for neighbor especially the poor consists in “two feet” that in order to move are to walk together: “charity” and “social justice.” One without the other is incomplete. Charity is the immediate response in giving to satisfy the needs of the poor, vulnerable and needy: food, clothing, health care, shelter, etc. Social Justice is the long term response to these needs that work towards addressing if not changing the causes that produce the need for Charity. Most of us Catholics are often impaired in being one legged (often that is charity only) in thinking about and fulfilling this requirement for entrance to heaven.

      • And Jesus knows (then and now eternally) that the poor will always be with us, not only because of the sins of the poor, but in large part because those who pretend to care, often don’t, regardless of how quickly they promote claims about caring. A landmark book published serveral years ago, called, “Who really Cares” was written by a former liberal looking to prove progressives are more caring than conservatives. He discovered the exact opposite. Those who identify as conservatives donate more time and money to helping the downtrodden by rates of ten to one to a hundred to one than self-identified progressives, depending on the activity. Conservatives even donate blood at thirty times the rate of liberals.

    • Deacon Edward Backwardist Peitler has said:
      “Progressive Catholics like our current Pope want to effect ‘heaven on earth.’ To accomplish this they’ve invented: synods, listening sessions, social justice, preferential option for the poor, etc”
      Our Father who are in heaven Holly is your name may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven……

  2. Thank you Mr. Kalb for persevering in the truth, and doing so again on this trendy topic of social justice.

    My sense is that “social justice” is, to borrow a word from “the trendies,” an “ideological” term. From the ideology of Marx-ism, as opposed to, for example, Catholic-ism.

    “Social justice” ideology in our contemporary, secular monoculture culture, has made what can be called one of the great unintended contributions to irony, by unjustly asserting its priority over virtue itself.

    In my family there are many people in the arts and performing arts. One very dear one experienced being hired into a performing arts company that marketed itself as being devoted to bringing the arts to impoverished children in a certain city. My dear one learned the company owner was perpetrating a fraud, trapping young artists into her company with promises of the experience of creating beautiful art, winning “government grants” for her inner city arts program, and paying herself handsomely, while cheating her artists, and her “public clients,” by offering junk “performance” pretending to be art.

    My dear one was finally informed what was going on: the owner of the arts-for-the-inner-city-company was what people in the arts world call “a poverty pimp.” She was a not a “performing artist,” she was instead a “con-artist.”

    And this is my conclusion at large, thst the “social justice” ideology is nothing other than a “con game.”

    Which brings me back to the Church, right now, and two of its “leading lights.” In March 2013, on the evening he was presented “on stage” to the Church and the world, the new Pontiff Francis was escorted to the balcony by a small group of men, among these standing right next to him (the now notorious Vatican financial fraud performer) Cardinal Becciu (then just a humbler version of himself, as an archbishop). Reporters who are paid to “send the right message” to the faithful have memorialized the auspicious moment, when just a few seconds before the Pontiff Francis would step forward and speak, His Excellency leaned in and gave The Pontiff Francis his mist important message: “Remember the poor.”

    That’s “social justice” for you, or as they say in the art’s world: “poverty pimps.”

    • “Social justice” was a term not unfamiliar to Pope Pius XI.

      It is that justice which explains why a man is has the right to be employed and the right to be paid a remuneration which will enable him realistically to be able to support a family.

      • Michael:

        You and I certainly agree that justice demands paying a man a fair wage. Certainly, Leo XIII, and as you note, Pius XI, were truly concerned about justice for men laboring in the increasingly alienating and abusive industrial age.

        Where I may diverge, is not on justice as given, but on “sj” as the ideological “”re-purposing” of ideas about just wages and the common good, and mis-using “justice” as a facade for marxist ideologues, such as those who preach the gospel of the “hammer-and-sickle-crucifix,” or those who intone “sj” on one evening, and the next morning renovate their Rome apartments via “special” transactions “inside-the-Vatican.”

        Or for another instance, in a commencement at a Jesuit university, where the demands for “sj” are voiced by loud. speakers booming across the manicured lawns, with not one mention of the author of justice, Jesus Our Lord.

        Which above is not a barbed reply aimed at you, but rather, an observation that what is sacred to you and me, can be profaned by others.

      • “It is that justice which explains why a man is has the right to be employed and the right to be paid a remuneration which will enable him realistically to be able to support a family.”
        So…if a man has a right to be employed and paid enough to support a family of, say, a wife and 4 children, who will be required to employ him?

        • MrsHess:

          Your rhetorical question in and of itself demonstrates a much wiser understanding of economic and business realities that too many people shouting “fair wage” simply ignore while they condemn a business owner if he or she cannot afford or it would simply be unwise and unjust to pay such a so-called “fair wage” to a worker because of the size of his family.

          Other considerations ignored by the unthinking “fair wage” crowd involve the payment of wages to other workers of different-sized families. Where is the justice in paying Dave a significantly higher wage than Steve because Dave supports a family of three while Steve produces twice as much as Dave, yet is currently unmarried? Imagine this scenario:

          In a meeting with the owner of small Company X (8 workers), Steve is told by the owner that he is the company’s most productive worker and plays a significant role in helping the company earn a modest profit to keep the small business going. However, in order to pay Dave a so-called fair wage despite doing nowhere near as much as Steve, he must be paid much more than Steve. Steve soon decided to leave for greener pastures elsewhere where his work will be properly rewarded on its merits. Within a year of Steve’s departure, Company X goes out of business because it does not hire a sufficient replacement for Steve and fails to make a profit….but at least it paid Dave a “fair wage,” so going out of business and costing some workers (including Dave) their jobs is just a small sacrifice to make sure that the family man got a “fair wage,” right?

          • I always wonder why the fair wage/living wage crowd are not required to start businesses and pay their workers a living wage.
            I once interviewed for a job as a church secretary at my then parish, which was one of the most socially justice minded ones in the area. They got down to asking about wages/salary. Well, CST requires I get a living wage, right?
            No surprises, I didn’t get the job.

          • If you cannot afford to pay someone you hire a decent wage 1. You should not be hiring workers. 2. You should not be a business owner.

            This really isn’t that difficult to understand.

  3. The phrase “Catholic morality” is deplorable. The Catholic Church teaches morality. It doesn’t have “its own morality.” It makes certain and clear what people ought to know or, possibly, ought to be able to figure out regarding how they must act.

    So is there a “Protestant morality?” An “Islamic morality?”


    The purpose of the Catholic Church is to save souls, but since human beings are a composite of soul and body it is necessary to provide for at least that which is necessary to avoid premature death as a result of the human actions of humans.

    Social justice historically appears to have been about economics.

    The first two social encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931) make clear that society should so far as possible be organized such that there is a male breadwinner household which provides for SAHMs and their children. At least one, also condemns child employment.

    This is very realizable, but malicious and greedy people have been very successful so far, especially in the USA, and most people – purposefully – aren’t aware of viable alternatives, in accordance with Catholic teaching, to a phrase that appeared here which I liked – a “technocratic hellscape.”

    I have made comments here along the lines of these encyclicals of what concrete measures can be taken. The criminal law (or, alternatively, PROMPT “civil law”) must get involved with regards to employment to ensure full employment with just wages to those who have a duty to support themselves, others, or both.

    In fact, there was an unconstitutional, but at least initially somewhat just, law passed by Congress in 1946 which initially was to have guaranteed, to the extent possible, full employment. Conservatives eviscerated it and non-conservatives weren’t sufficiently moral with regards to “sticking by their guns” even if it meant that wouldn’t have been able to be passed. The was a book written about it “Congress Makes a Law: The Story Behind the Employment Act of 1946.”

    If Congress in 1946 had been dominated by good Catholics, things likely would have turned out much more differently. In fact, there was recently an article which noted that some people in Ireland are planning on changing its constitution.

    It has the following in it:

    “the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall therefore endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

    Also, the state must be must more hands off (e.g. domestic “violence” and marital “rape”) with regards with the family AFTER it is established, with criminal penalties, that morality concerning reproduction is being followed (e.g. marriage, fornication).

    As for this article, so long as God is being served it may be necessary to ally with those who aren’t Catholics to achieve legislative success. Every vote is like a “mini civil war” concerning a matter regarding justice and the civil authority.

  4. Your last paragraph about the limited success of”direct political action” says it all. Perhaps too many Catholics and other Christians put too much time and effort in trying to effect change through political clout, legislation,and control from the top down. This method is very ineffective and short sighted. Its effectiveness is very fragile and temporary. We must start with personal conversion and seek to live as Christians where we are. If we each learn to love our neighbors by sharing and caring the world will be much better and more just. We are called to be light in a dark world, a small leaven in the big lump. It’s all of our random acts of kindness bundled together that will make a difference. Even when we are no longer to speak we will be able to communicate through our lives. In short we must change ourselves before we can hope to change others. May God have mercy on us all!

  5. The Trinity of Persons, One God is Social Justice. The Holy Family is the earthly model of social justice, the first Catholic (Domestic) Church. See how the just society of the Mystical Body of Christ and His Saints has developed since Nazareth! See the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – the Just City of God! As such, contemplative prayer is essential for Catholic social justice.

    Every other form of man-made society lacks fullness and has a fallen form. As such, man-made social justice systems are incomplete. Claims of earthly utopias always decrease just society by increasing injustice and isolation.

  6. It appears that your definition of “morality” is almost exclusively about sex. There is more to morality than sex. If you read the Gospels, Christ talks quite a bit about helping the poor, your denigrating “Social Justice’ is erroneous and bordering on right wing claptrap.

    Pope Francis is a pastor, not a cop. I’ll take him any day over Pope John Paul II and his medieval Catholicism.

    • “It appears that your definition of “morality” is almost exclusively about sex.”

      And yet the essay doesn’t even discuss sex. Huh.

      “There is more to morality than sex.”

      That’s right. And?

      “…his medieval Catholicism.”

      Yes, phenomenology is so medieval. Sigh. It’s quite funny how rad-trads denounce John Paul II for being a modernist, while modernists denounce him for being too traditionalist.

    • Indeed, there is “more to morality than sex.” Pope Francis, for example, humiliates any fixation allegedly on only “sins below the waist.”

      Some truth to that….There are, for example, the above-the-waist Intellectual Sins:

      …bending the truth, half-truths, lying to others and first to oneself, a lack of curiosity, in-sin-uating footnotes, verbal injustice and privileged violations of the Eighth Commandment. Butt, to excise these serpentine offenses we might sometimes run afoul of the anti-intelligent scribbling of a few well-placed clerics with letters after their names.

      And, as for “social justice”….Yes, this concern is more than a Leftist political slogan.

      And, yet, I also remember, from the 1970ish world, scholarly tomes elaborating upon “relative deprivation” (eventually a book by that title). Meaning, ultimately, that whatever metric for improving equity that one might advance–always half of the population will be below this moving average.

      From the mid-1980s and beyond, radio/stage personality Garrison Kieller has illustrated this socio-political phenomenon well in his Lake Wobegon series—where ALL of the children in his fictional and idyllic village are above average.

    • Yes Mr. Kiehl, there are 9 other commandments, and lots more added on top of those 10 by Our Lord in the Sermon in the Mount.

      But the possible divergence between what you are implying, and what Jesus is commanding, may simply be the difference between subtraction and addition.

      It seems Our Lord subtracted nothing, but instead, doubled down on everything, such as this:

      “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your friends and hate your enemies.’ BUT I SAY: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

      And this:

      “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ BUT I SAY: Any man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.”

      Or as he summed it up: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law. I have come instead to fulfill it.”

      Thus while he compounded the law of charity, he likewise compounded the law of chastity.

      All together, even more demanding.

    • What exactly is “medieval Catholicism?” Since it is impossible for truth to be a cultural relic, and it is impossible for God to lie to His Church or abandon her, and it is impossible for truth to change, how is it possible for truth to be bound to any particular time and place? I’m guessing you haven’t had much actual exposure to Catholicism. If you have, you would know such things as the full range of moral objects and responsible human moral virtue has been constantly examined throughout its history by brilliant minds writing thousands of books, and in more recent times, notably, by such sources as the Catholic Catechism or the esteemed moral thinker John Paul II, author of The Splendor of Truth, a man of saintly virtue and compassion, whom you seem fit to cruelly dismiss and malign.

      • Medieval Catholicism is where the clergy are the aristocrats and the laity are serfs. John Paul, for all his vaunted intellect never really understood modern,western man. The rationale of “because I said so” is no longer enough. Blind obedience is not a virtue.

        Yes I have had exposure to Catholicism. 12 years of Catholic School and one of my degrees is from a Jesuit University.

    • You’ll take him. Where did you see that he was for sale?

      Or do you take him as he is…warts and good points all? If him, then why not JPII? Who are you to judge?

  7. Prudence advises against trying to transform the world by allying ourselves with people who want a self-sufficient world with no place for Christianity (Kalb). Yes. Though unfortunately that’s all there is to work with.
    Working to transform our world, a most legitimate quest requires finding the means to evangelize in a cooperative effort with non believers. Dr Paul Kurtz, U Buffalo NY, former chairman of the global Council for Secular Humanism wrote that while he opposed Catholicism for its impositions on liberty, he highly admired its contributions to humanization, creating hospital care, institutions for learning, gestures of kindness. The Council that he headed included many of our world’s notable intellectuals. These people do listen to reason despite their prejudices. How then?
    History informs us that some of our Church fathers engaged the leading anti Christians of their day, exchanging letters, discourse, arguing at times in Socratic fashion, Irenaeus and Augustine examples. Prudence then also requires that we assume a more Christian posture not less when dealing with globalists, secularists, the majority world that has abandoned faith.

    • We can certainly cooperate on particular things, disaster relief or whatever, but “transform the world” implies something comprehensive like the progressive vision of social justice. Something like that brings in basic understandings of what and the world.

      An example that’s been in the news lately is education. How should young people be brought up? Another is healthcare, the care of the human body: is it basically a matter of maintaining productive human resources, scrapping those surplus to requirements, and providing biotechnological consumer goods like abortions, babies, sex change operations etc.?

      • Yes, it is challenging. Perhaps there’s grounds for appeal, let’s say, education, as it relates to healthcare and views of popular figures, who despite their irreligiosity question trans sexuality. Bill Maher and JK Rowling have similar thoughts on the ethics of sex change, Maher citing the impressionability of the young prior to making a mature judgment, Rowling expressing compassion in protection of ‘transpeople’, nevertheless questioning the reality of their change.
        Searching for a rationale, rhetorical argument possessing substance leaves an imprint on our conscience, even if not immediately adhered to. It appears feasible that the believing Christian can have reasoned impact without presenting himself as representative of Christianity. While we’ve radically changed our moral sentiments, we nevertheless retain within our created nature the principles of natural law. That truth remains in our favor.

        • If you’re saying we should present our views and build on elements of agreement especially with particular individuals I certainly agree. Whether we can have an actual education system in common with a group of people whose dominant view of human nature and the purpose of life is radically at odds with our own is another question.

    • Fr. Morello:

      A central point is whether or not Mr. Kurtz, or his fellow “secular humanists,” or perhaps more precisely, the “secular humanists” who will (or have?) replaced Mr. Kurtz, really “do listen to reason.”

      Or are the “secular humanists” in reality a political army of “malcontents,” as described and cited in one of the Amicus Briefs in the recent SCOTUS decision in the case called “303 Creative,” where a woman won her challenging against the State of Colorado, which state has passed a law to force Christians (among others) to assent to what Christians know is immoral.

      More to the point, using the language of the brief, and I am paraphrasing, but sticking very close to the words, I will pose the question thus:

      Do the “secular humanists” in fact “listen to reason,” or are they instead “malcontents…who are not satisfied to live as free men in a society of other free people who (by constitutional right) are free to live differently, or do they demand that all people differing from them be forced to assent and pay obeisance” to the beliefs of the left (i.e., the ideology of the “secular humanists”)?

      The link to an essay on that case here:

      Right now, judging from the winds driven by “the secular humanists,” my sense is that they are not the former, but the latter. They (for a time) tolerated Christians (etc) until such time that they take over universities, hospitals and other institutions built by Christians, and once in control, wage open war to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth. Indeed, it seems the case that since March 2013, they have in fact taken over the Catholic Church establishment, and now are waging war against the Body of Christ, to (as put by Fr. Imbelli), to “decapitate” the Body of Christ.

      • Chris, they are malcontent, with culture as it is lived. At the time of Humanist Manifesto II 1973 it included signatories Albert Ellis, Sydney Hook, Joseph Fletcher, WV Quine, Sir AJ Ayer, Sir Raymond Firth Kai Nielsen et Al men who have had profound impact in shaping the minds in academia. Their thought reflects nihilism and death of God theologies. That Kurtz found appeal in Christian values is not insignificant, or worthy of dismissal and deemed irrelevant.
        Our challenge is raised by James Kalb. Do we simply oppose, or do we oppose and similarly offer reasoned response. Christ provided us with an intellect to be used in knowledge of Himself, and for witness to what is true and good. The early Church, the Apostolic witness of the Fathers is our model. They did not retreat into enclosed resistance, rather they stood out and spoke to the truth.

        • I believe of course that we should offer reasoned response. That is not at all the same as allying ourselves (today, as inevitably junior partners) in constructing a common system for the whole of life.

        • Thank you Fr. Morello for your reply.

          While I agree with you on the inherent value of being ready and willing to offer a reasonable response, I am sure it comes as no surprise that I incline to what James Kalb is observing: there is little or no benefit to Christian people of being “yoked” as a junior partner with a secular humanist group or institution which sees Christianity and Christian people as obstacles to be cleared from the path of the secular humanist ideology.

          The manifestation of the contemporary situation is that the contemporary “secular” ideology is by its nature hostile, and seeks opportunities for confrontation and encroachment, but abhors the prospect of having to listen to Christian reasoning itself, which they consider as nothing but “animus” toward “aggrieved factions” of the secular alliance demanding to be “given approval,”!such as radical, CIS-hating feminists, trans-sexual activists, the LBGTQ / Human Rights Campaign and lilly-white, “non-binary indigenous people” (the actual description of one of the students selected to give a Commencement Address at Harvard this year).

          What lays out is that in general, they demand a hearing for themselves, but abhor a reply in disagreement, and publicly assert that to voice disagreement with them is form of abuse.

          We see it in our families: siblings and children will publicly ambush traditional-thinking religious and/or conservative family members, and dare them to take issue, and then when given a contradictory reply, proclaim themselves abused by having heard the countervailing argument that they sought to provoke. After which they demand that no such (important) discussions/disagreements be aired in their presence. That is: CANCELLATION of serious discussions, or else…

          Such people are, regrettably, not interested in having reasoned discussions. But they will vote to give schools and agencies power over parents and their children.

          • Chris, we have Catholic professionals in place, already joined, for example in the AMA, in academia, in the sciences. This is where they have opportunity [in most cases they’re morally obliged to attend board meetings] to be vocal in expressing more reasonable Christian views, which too often they do not for fear of intimidation, even loss of tenure. We agree in principle, as with James Kalb.

          • Yes, Chris. To make matters worse, many Catholics holding positions of authority in institutions which exist to further ‘social justice’ often act contrary to principles of Catholicism in its totality. For example:

            1) Biden.
            2) Pelosi.
            3) Fauci.
            4) Francis.

          • “We see it in our families: siblings and children will publicly ambush traditional-thinking religious and/or conservative family members, and dare them to take issue, and then when given a contradictory reply, proclaim themselves abused by having heard the countervailing argument that they sought to provoke. After which they demand that no such (important) discussions/disagreements be aired in their presence. That is: CANCELLATION of serious discussions, or else…”

            A braid and disgusting assumption on your part. What about the “traditional-thinking religious and/or conservative family members” who go out of their way to rattle the cages of their family members who do not share their views? You think that NEVER happens? You are wrong.

            It sounds to me like you must have antagonized some family members and then decided to pretend you are the one who is being victimized when they push back. GROW UP AND STOP WITH THIS “US vs. THEM” nonsense.

            You sound like a petulant 13 year old boy who likes to behave like a brat for attention.

  8. Not contradicting Kalb.

    The integral parts of justice are 1. commutative, 2. distributive, 3. legal. This is never going to change. I accept “social justice” as a descriptor for the right result(s) attained when these integral parts are upheld/kept sound and applied to produce effectively.

    In keeping with traditional understanding, I put commutative, first.

    We have to defend commutative even for the poor. If we are “too socialistic” or “too distributive” for sake of acting “on behalf of the poor”, it becomes injustice to everyone and the poor.

  9. Allying ourselves as collaborateurs is not the reality we’re faced with.
    Although, in effect, collaboration is often the case. The reason being that Catholics are already embedded within the decision making processes, from politics, to medicine, education, formulating policy, many who drive the anti Catholic, antiChrist policies we suffer.
    From my experience in management at a medical center, I attended interdisciplinary management meetings usually chaired by executive management. Regarding a case of a patient suffering an acute insult to the brain who was considered brain dead by physicians, who were largely Catholic, although the damage was severe, this patient was capable of cognition, answering yes or no and able to ingest food. Nonetheless, the ethics committee co chaired by a Catholic physician convinced the patient’s wife he should have life support [here meaning among other support feeding] withdrawn.
    We find this throughout. As Catholics, even if nominal, we comprise the Church, its Mystical Body in the world. We fail its head, who is Christ, when, for whatever rationale, we desist from effective witness, witness that can be given simply by telling the truth. As I understand your response I believe this is what you would agree with.

  10. You are all so very eloquent, intelligent, and it is obvious that you care and love our holy church and its founder, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But I must say that the only answer, and I believe the answer that our savior would agree with is the comment made by James Conner. I was at a dinner, honoring mother Theresa in California many years ago and I will never forget, her statement that so many of the ladies at this dinner were asking her how they could help. And her answer was almost the same words that James Conner used in his comment. It begins with each and every single person, and how they live their lives. We are all sinners, and we must try our very best to do what Jesus Christ taught us to do. That is the way and the truth.

  11. Edit: Mother Teresa not “Theresa”.

    All due respect, thank you Connor and Whelan. But VATICAN II calls to Catholic action and if I may make a further summary, calls to moral action; and it would include non-Catholics and the imperfect.

  12. There are many aspects and manifestations of justice in the social dimensions; to mention 2 of particular note among other mentioned in the CCC:

    1. obligations and limitations of media and mass communications
    2. rest on Sundays.

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