Thursday, June 15, 2006

Catholic Social Europe - how it fails the poorest

Cranmer has been more than a little tested by the Church of England’s sales pitch for the EU’s Constitution, in which they asserted that European Integration is the salvation of ‘the long term unemployed, the homeless, the casualties of community care, the poor, the mentally ill, the immigrants, the victims of racism, the asylum seekers, and the children denied food or health care because of their countries’ massive indebtedness'. According to Luke, Jesus certainly held the poor in a privileged soteriological position, and a ‘Christian European Union’ purports to do the same, faithfully upholding this crucial dimension of the gospel.

But does it?

The advocates of Catholic social doctrine (i.e., the EPP) claim that its economic model achieves higher social standards than the heartless and barbaric Anglo-Saxon economies, where it’s ‘dog eat dog’ in ‘the law of the jungle’. The reality is that protectionist Catholic social doctrine fails the poorest and society’s most vulnerable. According to the publication Beyond the European Social Model, the incomes of the poorest 10% have increased considerably in Ireland and the UK, compared to other EU countries, and these so-called Anglo-Saxon economies have a smaller proportion of their populations below the poverty line. Since Ireland cut public spending as a proportion of GDP from 55% to 35%, while the tax burden across the rest of the EU stayed roughly the same, growth accelerated, and real spending on public services increased as a result by almost 250%. This is good news for the poor!

The EU is falling behind in education and science, it has increasingly unsustainable levels of unemployment, and a looming pensions crisis. From youth to the elderly, the EU’s social model reduces freedom and diminishes quality of life even for those who can find work. This is a moral issue, since Catholic social teachings ‘trample on the heads of the poor...and deny justice to the oppressed’ (Amos 2:7). How can the abdication to foreign control of the responsibility for fundamental human needs ever be justified from a Christian perspective? God cares for the poor, the oppressed, and the underdogs in society. He pours his wrath upon those who corrupt justice or create economic machines designed to provide more wealth for the wealthy and deprive the poor. The story of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21 establishes that authorities are not free to pursue any policy they please or to ride roughshod over the rights of the poor.

How long, O Lord, how long?

26 Comments:

Blogger Croydonian said...

There are a million and one places to examine the politics of the EU, so I will forebear from wading in on that here, but rather will restrict myself to noting that the euro-socio model is rather keen on what used to be called 'fraternity' and is termed 'solidarity' these days. This tends to manifest itself in a rather procrustean model of social equality.

15 June 2006 at 09:42  
Anonymous Rick said...

There is no Catholic Social Model because Christian Democratic Parties are no longer Catholic.

The alternative was simply Social Democracy which in its basic form was to socialise the means of production - faced with that it was pretty obvious that a Conservative philosophy would be developed as an alternative.

Christian Democracy is a postwar concept to democratise the very right-wing and socially elite Catholic Parties Pre-War, to get a popular rather than a sectarian base.............which is why Germans call them Volksparteien - or Mass Parties - and they are still bigger in terms of membership than any party in Britain.

The Conservative Party is a party of the Southern economic elites just as Labour is the party of the salaried apparatchiki. There are no mass-membsership parties in Britain.

I do not think the issue in Mainland Europe is religious, it is simply what power The State has assumed - and The State is antithetical to religion. It is in fact the State Socialism through legislation that is the problem there and increasingly here

15 June 2006 at 11:18  
Anonymous Olly said...

There is no Catholic Social Model because Christian Democratic Parties are no longer Catholic.

No, that's wrong. Just because the names have changed, doesn't negate the fact that the roots were Catholic Socialist and Corporatist. The foundations are clearly based on papal teachings. Just because the modern facade has become secular or something else doesn't seem to have changed the social model or philosophy. It remains Catholic. It just isn't called that.

15 June 2006 at 13:14  
Anonymous Rick said...

Not really. What is Catholic about the CDU being led by the Protestant daughter of a Protestant pastor ?

The Christian Democrats in Italy have vapourised after being in control for 50 years.

The Christian Democrats were the parties the US supported when the Socialist parties were suspected of links to Moscow.............where is the "Catholic Social Model" in France or Denmark or Sweden ?

15 June 2006 at 14:09  
Blogger Sabretache said...

"....He pours his wrath upon those who corrupt justice or create economic machines designed to provide more wealth for the wealthy and deprive the poor"

That is the nub of the matter. And for the C of E to suggest (if that is what it is doing) that there is a smidgin of difference between the EU/AS economies in that regard or that somehow the EU constitution will improve matters is risible.

15 June 2006 at 14:40  
Blogger Sabretache said...

PS - I like the new banner - very impressive.

15 June 2006 at 14:42  
Anonymous Olly said...

Not really. What is Catholic about the CDU being led by the Protestant daughter of a Protestant pastor ?

You miss the point. Just because the CofE is led by a load of ecumenical Anglo-Catholics does not mean that its foundations were not Protestant! So what if Merkel's a Protestant? It's irrelevant.

15 June 2006 at 14:49  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Sabretache,

Thank you, indeed. Most kind.

Cranmer

15 June 2006 at 14:59  
Anonymous Rick said...

No Olly it is not. When Stoiber stood against Schroeder in 2001 he chose as his Family Minister an unmarried mother in her thirties and scandalised his party. However under Kohl - who had a mistress in the Chancellery they had a Finance Minister who had ditched his wife and had a baby with a former Bavarian skier.

Merkel has a Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen who is a doctor married to a Professor of Medicine and they have 7 children.

The point is that the CSU which is the more hardline Bavarian sister party was being opportunistic under Stoiber but Merkel is back on the rails as regards this area - because demographics is the big theme.

I do not think the issue comes down to Catholic so much as Christian, and I think that is now coming back into focus because of the stridency of Muslims making voters define themselves.

The Churches are however not especially happy about politicians and do not consider them especially Catholic or Christian - see the issue on Hartz IV which does not conform to Catholic Social Model at all.

Economics is driving all countries - every country is trying to offload healthcare costs onto the patient, education costs onto the student, while retaining tax revenues for the State.

15 June 2006 at 15:35  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

Well, some muddles here. The CDU and all 'Christian Democracy' is Catholic in its origins. I think that's the point Olly's making. The papal encyclicals to which he refers are Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII (in which the plight and misery of workers' was acknowledged), and Quadragesimo Anno, by Pope Pius XI, which developed the notion of Corporatism, are most certainly the social foundations of the EU.

Whilst it is no longer exclusively Catholic, having incorporated some of the more conservative Protestant groups, Olly is right to state this was the social vision of the 'Founding Fathers'. It is why, after all, Monnet, Schumann, Adenauer, are all candidates for beatification - a reward for founding the European Union on Roman Catholic principles.

15 June 2006 at 21:01  
Anonymous Rick said...

Well now that the story of Menachem Begin's plot to murder Adenauer in 1952 has become public in Germany maybe Adenauer does deserve more recognition. Had this succeeded - a German sapper was killed by the bomb - no doubt Germany anchored in NATO might not have taken place.

16 June 2006 at 07:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And note this on the EPP on Iain Dale's blog from a 'Brussels insider':

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2006/06/brussels-perspective-on-epp.html

In particular:

"However, its dominant feature is social conservatism, to which its leadership subscribes, and which is very often of a religious and in particular Catholic nature."

16 June 2006 at 09:19  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Anon,

I have politely requested this previously...

Pleased do not use 'anon', since too many in a thread create confusion. I cannot understand why someone prefers anon to, say, Colin. Unless, of course, one is female, in which case, select a suitable female pseudonym. In that way, everyone is happy to be conversing with a human being, unless, of course, there is a very clever monkey at the keyboard.

16 June 2006 at 09:55  
Anonymous John Fisher said...

This blog provides continuous proof that the old saying remains true - in Britain there are two religions: Catholicism, which is wrong, and all the others, which don't matter.

16 June 2006 at 10:26  
Anonymous Rick said...

Well since the other large Bloc is the Socialist-Atheist Group I suppose defining yourself apart from them leads to that result.

It is however worth recalling that there are more Protestants in Germany than Catholics and that The Catholic Church has been singularly unsuccessful in getting recognition in the form of a reference to God in the benighted Constitution nor Rocco Buttiglione into a job now held by a Freemason.

16 June 2006 at 11:05  
Blogger Croydonian said...

Hmm, the figures on religious affiliation I've seen go thus:

Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%

However, I would imagine that many of the 'unaffiliated' are eastern Germans with Protestant roots.

16 June 2006 at 11:23  
Anonymous Rick said...

"Affiliation" in Germany probably means registered for Kirchensteuer - you must register with your ID Card and then a levy is deducted with Income Tax to fund the Church.

16 June 2006 at 13:04  
Blogger Croydonian said...

Rick, quite possibly - I just grabbed the figures from the CIA factbook site.

16 June 2006 at 13:22  
Anonymous Rick said...

from the CIA factbook site.

You get it sent as an alumnus ?

16 June 2006 at 13:59  
Blogger Croydonian said...

Rick - not quite, although hidden away somewhere I've got one of the CIA College graduation certificates that used to be advertised in Private Eye. Shame it is only a merit and not a distinction.

If Cranmer will permit this off topic meander a little longer, I can recommend the factbook site as a useful source for population stats etc etc.

16 June 2006 at 14:40  
Anonymous John Fisher said...

The Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the religious affliliation in Germany as being Protestant 35.6%, Catholic 33.5%, Orthodox 0.9%, independent Christian 0.9%, other Christian 4.9%, Muslim 4.4%, Jewish 0.1%, nonreligious 17.2%, atheist 2.2%, other 0.3%.

The figures given are from 2000.

16 June 2006 at 15:04  
Anonymous Rick said...

http://www.destatis.de/

2003 25.836.000 Protestants
26.165.000 Catholics
102.000 Jews

http://www.destatis.de/basis/d/bevoe/bevoetab5.php

16 June 2006 at 18:12  
Anonymous UKBloke said...

human population of World is:
6.355.543.400

http://www.populationworld.com/

17 June 2006 at 23:06  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Apparently in March 2007, there will be a Declaration of Berlin, a new statement of the EU's purpose...I can hardly wait.

18 June 2006 at 15:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6.355.543.400

Way out of date...............

18 June 2006 at 17:44  
Anonymous TT said...

Declaration of Berlin?

Not of World War III, I hope...

18 June 2006 at 20:49  

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