Social structures can never make charity superfluous. But likewise, the importance of personal charity does not diminish our collective responsibility to put just structures in place. To claim otherwise conjures up a cold dark world where grace and nature are radically sundered. For how can private charity alone meet the needs of those millions with no healthcare, or inadequate healthcare? How can private charity alone take care of pensioners and the destitute? How can private charity alone took after the 15 million people who are unemployed? And how can taking the government out of the economy protect us from the forms of greed (human nature, after all) that led to the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression?
Catholic social teaching exists for a reason. Let’s not be blinded by ideology.
The question is one of balance: when does government aid begin to weaken the sense that we need to be personally charitable? When does a generous social welfare state actually prevent charity by taxing away our means to provide it? A Beck-style Christianity with no social welfare is unjust; a socialist state where private charity is made close to impossible is corrupting of the individual soul.
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