In the wake of the much-ballyhooed correspondence between Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Congressional Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a group called “Catholics United” issued a press release titled, “Catholics Ask Archbishop Dolan: What Anti-Poverty Programs Would Jesus Cut?”
The archbishop, if he were to respond in person, would likely start by making a self-deprecating comment concerning his fondness for food and relate it to some sort of food program.
But one potential serious answer would be, “Well, none. Jesus wouldn’t cut a single program.” The rest of that answer is, “but, of course, Jesus didn’t advocate for the government dole in the first place; He advocated for mutual support born of charity.”
Charity isn’t charity if the money used to help the poor is taken against the will of the one who has the money originally. Even for programs that no one has a problem with at all, the money is still taken by the government through statutory taxation, i.e., coercively.
The parable of the Good Samaritan didn’t end with Medicare picking up the tab.
The multiplication of the loaves and fishes wasn’t a call for food stamps.
The healing of the paralytic lowered through the roof wasn’t followed by an impassioned plea for government-run healthcare.
And the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee? Well, there’s a government program I could get behind, I suppose…
But seriously: Jesus didn’t advocate *for* the dole, so I can’t imagine Him decrying a legislator making tough decisions to avoid a fiscal train wreck, even if that means cutting the dole. Irresponsibility with the people’s money is a greater sin for those entrusted with the public trust than is cutting the dole, because the former is an offense against a necessary and unavoidable component of governing, while the latter is reducing a luxury we have gotten used to in a well-developed, insanely wealthy country.
I suggest that rather than ask ridiculous loaded questions, the people at Catholics United seek ways Catholics can unite in true charity to pick up the slack when the dole is cut (as it *must* be) to help those who may need to find alternate ways of financing needed health care.