I happen to like Glenn Beck, although I rarely watch him or listen to him. But I remember that when I heard this quote I thought to myself that he had certainly gotten it wrong this time. The gospels point not only vertical-- upwards to God--but they point us horizontal. They point us in the direction of our fellow humans and direct us to take care of them also, especially the weak and the marginalized. Repeatedly, Jesus tells us to take care of the sick, the elderly, and the poor. He tells us that whatever we do to take care of those we do take care of Him.
The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have highlighted seven themes that are the heart of Catholic teaching. These themes are more fully described here. They are
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person-all human life is sacred
- Call to Family, Community and Participation--marriage and family is the central social institutions and should be strengthened
- Rights and Responsibility--everyone has a right to life and a right to those things required for human decency
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable--we must take care of those most poor and vulnerable
- The Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers--basic rights of workers must be protected
- Solidarity--We are one human family
- Care for God's Creation--we are responsible for the planet that God has given us
Here is the problem with what Mr. Beck had to say. The first is that it was taken out of context. What he said was so brash that it was easy for those who might disagree with him to take it and run with it. If you re-read it you will think to yourself that he must be an idiot. The thing is, he was talking about those churches that actually are pushing a political agenda. The second is that Mr. Beck's definition of social justice is a little difference than what we may think. Glenn Beck defines social justice as "Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice." The third mistake was making a comment that would make people think that this is what Catholic social justice is--as one could assume by him using words such as "priest" or "bishop."
The Catholic Church has rejected communism and socialism--they've shown themselves to be atheistic and totalitarian. Likewise, she has rejected "capitalism individualism" because it, in itself, fails social justice (2425-Catechism of the Catholic Church) She recognizes that government isn't going to properly take care of those in need just as the market place isn't. We need to get off our rear, take care of our brothers and sisters, and stop relying others to do it.