It is one of the six precepts of the Church that a good Catholic must “assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.” Can. 222, s. 1.
A good Catholic is also obliged to promote “social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.” Can. 222, s. 2.
And what is “social justice”?
A fine three-part article from 2013 can be found here at Catholic World Report. But, as the author points out, the Pope of “social justice” was — not Francis — but Pius XI, who wrote Quadragesimo Anno (1931). There and then, in the face of rising socialism and the depths of global economic depression, Pius XI taught:
“By this law of social justice, one class is forbidden to exclude the other from sharing in benefits. Hence the class of the wealthy violates this law no less, when, as if free from care on account of its wealth, it thinks it the right order of things for it to get everything and the worker nothing, than does the non-owning working class when, angered deeply at outraged justice and too ready to assert wrongly the one right it is conscious of, it demands for itself everything as if produced by its own hands, and attacks and seeks to abolish, therefore, all property and returns or incomes, of whatever kind they are or whatever the function they perform in human society, that have not been obtained by labor, and for no other reason save that they are of such a nature.” (No. 57).
So what is to be done by Catholic in a rich nation such as ours? Pope Pius XI is also clear that
“A person’s superfluous income, that it, income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly and with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free determination. Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church constantly declare in the most explicit language that the rich are bound by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.” (No. 50).
Get that? If you have superfluous income, the Church’s perennial teaching is to give it to the poor (almsgiving), the Church (beneficence), or reinvested to provide more jobs (munificence). Not the State, nor the Church through the State’s threat of force.
(See 1:42 of above.)
This may seem obvious. Alas, would that it were. There are powerful Alaskans who are totally at odds with this teaching on social justice. As reported on our local episcopal blog, gobs of US taxpayer money goes to Catholic Relief Services (CRS):
Some of the congress men and women made it known that sending US money overseas when we face so many challenges at home is often not understood by their constituents. One Senator said very frankly: “Even though it is the right thing to do, it does not get us votes.”
As an Alaskan, U.S. citizen, taxpayer, and loyal son of the Church, I say that it is not the right thing to do to take my tax dollars and give them to CRS.
There is NO constitutional authority for Congress to use the power of the purse for charity, as Davy Crockett discovered over 150 years ago.
The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.
And a tax is a tax, not a tithe. As Dinesh D’Souza and others have pointed out, the volitional act of giving is destroyed when the State’s gun is forcing the wallet to open. Ergo, what formerly was a corporal work of mercy becomes an act of more or less reluctant obedience — and not to the Church or its apostolic succession, but to the State!
Unfortunately, none of this new, as socialism has always preyed upon good-hearted Christians:
Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge. Has not Christianity declaimed against private property, against marriage, against the state? Has it not preached in the place of these, charity and poverty, celibacy and mortification of the flesh, monastic life and Mother Church? Christian Socialism is but the holy water with which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat. — Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto, Ch. III.
Please say a Hail Mary, right now, for our Archbishop and our congressional delegation – especially the two Catholics!