'Bishops and Economics'

November 03, 1985

I would like to respond to some of the ideas put forth in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' letter on the U.S. economy, as reported in your editorial (Oct. 22), "Bishops and Economics."

I'm a Roman Catholic and I care very much about the plight of the poor. But this whole notion that poverty in America is being "neglected" is absurd. Our government spends approximately $400 billion a year on social welfare programs, and private charities spend nearly equal that amount. I wouldn't exactly call that "neglect," would you?

Furthermore, why are the bishops critical of free enterprise? Isn't that what made this country great? It produces the most, it provides the most freedom, and it gives the poor an opportunity to help themselves.

I believe in charity, but I believe it must be voluntary or it isn't charity. I also feel that charity should be designed to help a person out of his problem, not institutionalize it. It's the old saying that if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. That's charity.

I have always been very disappointed in our government's style of charity, simply because it's so cold and uncaring. I have felt that the charity work I have done through my parish greatly surpassed any government program, and the people I have helped felt the same way. I knew that the church was the answer.

That's why it saddens me to see my bishops calling for more government-run charity. I feel like they don't appreciate the charity work I've done. I feel betrayed.

I'm not sure why they are turning to the government. Surely they don't think there's too much for us to handle. I know that's not the case. Our charity gets people out of poverty; government charity keeps people in and makes matters worse.

What's more, I think the bishops are getting dangerously close to socialism in their thinking. They want everyone to be equal, and they call that "social justice." But how can you make people equal without taking things away from people who have more? That's not justice--that's stealing.

I'm sorry that the bishops feel the way they do, and I don't know where they get their ideas. But most of all, I'm embarrasshed to have to speak out and correct my church's leaders. I pray that God will guide them.

KEVIN FINN Redondo Beach

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