In the course of my life, I’ve been blessed to know a number of sisters and nuns (not actually the same thing). I’ve had several as teachers, served on committees with a few, sung with and for some…even traveled with a number.
Several of my good sister friends are members of one of the most nefarious “peace and justice” pushing orders currently spouting feel good theology. (We don’t talk politics when we are together.) They were once a great and strong teaching order, and now…well, they use “the spirit of Vatican II” to justify espousing a mission of striving for peace and justice, which is all well and good, except that the world does not achieve peace or justice with the methods championed, and we really could use the teachers. (And they are increasingly gray, and dressed very badly. A habit would be an improvement.)
You’d think after 50 years of their methods failing both in attracting vocations and achieving any kind of peace or justice, they’d understand that the means must match the message, but that does not seem to be the case. In one of the ultimate ironies of Christian life, the vocal champions of peace and justice deliver nothing of the sort when their lifestyle of collective living and enforced disarmament is applied to society on a larger scale.
As Christians, we are all called by Christ to do some things for our fellow man: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, harbor the harborless, and bury the dead, among others.
No one disputes that. But, that is what WE are called to do, not government, and not forced to do so by the government in the way the government sees fit.
This is where the peace and justice crowd – including this order of sisters – went off the rails. As far as they are concerned, it is up to every one of us to make their mission a priority, even to the point of advocating to the government for programs no republic should sponsor (monarchs are another story, especially if it is their personal funds they are using to accomplish the mission).
Just one problem: for Catholics to preach this faulty theology is really contrary to the teachings of the Church. That is where those of us who see the fantasy for what it is have objections to speeches such as I heard yesterday from a sister who really had no clue what she was saying. (It was a head-banging moment since, for the most part, the women of that order are not dumb.)
This is where the methods encouraged by the peace and justice people need to be examined:
- If government takes on the role given to us, God’s people, how is it just, then, to take what belongs to one person and give it to another at the tip of a sword or at the barrel of a gun. If a private citizen does that, it is called stealing and armed robbery, both felonies. When the government does it, it’s called welfare – and it is legal. This is why almsgiving should be voluntary, otherwise what is enforced is institutionalized envy which parlays into class warfare. It teaches covetousness of someone else’s belongings. (Just how many commandments are broken with Robin Hood-ism? Seriously.)
- How can external peace be achieved if the means for conflict resolution is removed from the people who would be victimized by violent crime, armed aggression, or bullying? This leaves marks defenseless, and potentially martyrs to the cause of the utopian fantasy that everyone can just get along. That is what happens when law abiding citizens are forbidden from owning and carrying lethal arms. That way outside of government, only criminals have them. That certainly is not a means of self-defense. It is also what happens when children are trained to be meek rather than standing up for themselves. Meekness is a blessing, but it should be honest, not forced.
- How freeing is a civil liberty to the victim of a crime, when the perpetrator is given every break and chance, and is released into society to have every opportunity to victimize more people – doesn’t matter what the crime is. This is why we have a need for jails. Such people need to be locked up to have any chance at rehabilitation. Prison and work release vocations are very noble, but still, when a criminal is reintroduced to society without aggressive follow-up recidivism is legion. Why is prison ministry not expanded to include re-introduction to society and help for people who have a natural inclination to crime? And why is the criminal treated as the least of Jesus’ people and not the victim?
- War is a horrible state. We do not disagree with that. Nor do we disagree that any militarized action must meet the threshold of a just war in order to be carried out by any nation calling itself moral or righteous. At the same time, any nation must maintain enough of a fighting force to be able to withstand invasion. That is why we disagree on the immorality of a strong and large standing army, navy, and at this time, air force. Without them, all the rest of the governmental arguments are moot.
This is what the social justice crowd misses. This is why many people object to their reasoning. Their championed societal norms leave regular, everyday people helpless in the face of the world, and very exploitable to the people in power. That they do not see.
In the case of my friends’ order of sisters, these are the main issues on the table. They are not advocates for gay “marriage,” or euthanasia, or any of the immoral human rights conflicts. But they are using their position as called religious to undermine truly just teachings such as the dignity of work vs. expecting a handout, the morality of self-defense, strength in true conflict resolution and more. These women – and men of orders spouting the same stuff – also actually believe racism is a one way street, that women cannot be sexist, and that a living wage is an attainable goal in menial jobs.
They are correct in that life would be different if we all lived in their world, the one where voluntary collectivism is the norm. But, what they do not see is if we didn’t have the real world, the rest of us would not have the means to support them financially or any other way whether they teach or not.
There is nothing just in re-victimizing a victim, stealing from the “rich” to float the poor, not providing for adequate defense, or insisting that prejudices are a one way street. There is also no external peace without being stronger than the aggressors. (Internal peace is another matter that requires forgiveness and compassion. Should be part of the discussion, but very often isn’t.)
These are exactly the wrong ways to work for “peace and justice.” If only the sisters would understand that.