U.S. Notes & Quotes
Welfare Alternatives: An Open Field for ‘Militant’ Apostolate
One of the underlying assumptions of those who would reform the welfare system is that Churches and other neighborhood-based organizations should address poverty, not the federal government. Pope John Paul II even applies this “principle of subsidiarity” to “the Welfare State” in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, arguing that only those closest to the needy can give them loving, human service.
But, now that reductions in federal welfare spending have begun, will the Churches pick up the slack?
“Where … are the Churches?” Rev. Brant Copeland of the First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, Fla., is quoted asking. “Where are the Christian business people who complained to their legislators about welfare moms on the public dole?”
His question, and some possible answers, were explored in the St. Petersburg Times Dec. 27, 1997.
“Some religious leaders resent the government's assumption that local churches must step in where government is backing out,” according to the article.
“Few have taken advantage of the ‘Charitable Choice’ provision in the new law that enables Churches to get federal money to start programs of their own. Many others think only in terms of traditional Church roles: soup kitchens, holiday food baskets, or missionary work with the poor overseas. Most seem to be waiting and watching for successful models to lead the way.”
The article quotes Doug Jameson, Florida's secretary of labor and employment security, saying, “We're looking to see a lot more…. We want to see Churches become active, militant, [and] do things they've never done before.”
One response was suggested by the Catholic Bishops of Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., who issued a pastoral letter on welfare reform calling on parishioners to offer “more than prayer and donations,” in order to allow the Church to help former welfare recipients return to working life, according to the article. Another response is being made by Amy Sherman's United Presbyterian Urban Ministry in Charlottesville, Va. Careful research led her Church to start a “hybrid based on other successful programs,” according to the article.
“Under Trinity Presbyterian's ‘neighborhood adoption’ approach, the congregation pours money, time, and effort into a particular nearby low-income community. They act as mentors,” helping people get and keep jobs—and budget their salaries.
The article quotes Sherman saying “Government can do a lot of things, but government can't give you time and love.”
Personally Opposed, But …
Boisterous New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison's Jan. 6 column gave his opinion of Geraldine Ferraro's decision to challenge fellow New Yorker Al D'Amato's U.S. Senate seat.
As usual, Mr. Kerrison was not inexpressive. He wrote that, in her press conference announcing her decision to seek the Democratic Party nomination, Mrs. Ferraro, “was emphatic on two issues—abortion and the environment:
‘Equality means an unwavering defense of a woman's right to choose,’ and ‘As we enter the 21st century, we must all be riverkeepers.’”
“That's her philosophy in a nutshell. It's important to keep the Hudson River clean, but so what if 1.2 million unborn babies are slaughtered every year. How sad. How infinitely pathetic.”
“At the end of the opening round, the candidate was asked whether, as a Catholic, she was troubled that her support for abortion and the death penalty put her at odds with her Church.”
“‘Yes, it troubles me,’ she said, picking her words carefully.”
“‘In 1978, when I was first elected to Congress, I used to say that if I ever became pregnant, I would not have an abortion. I would have the child because I'm a Catholic, but I would not impose my religious views on others. I still say, I will not….’
“How disingenuous,” commented Kerrison. “That's like saying, ‘Personally, I'm opposed to slavery, but if you want to own a black person, that's your business and I'm not going to impose my religious views on you.’”
“The Ferraro cop-out has been used by legions of former pro-life advocates—Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson, Richard Gephardt, Peter Vallone, Al Gore, to name a few—who all switched to advance their careers in the Democratic Party.”
- January 18-24, 1998