Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, November 29, 2010
Distributism: a Primer for Orthodox Christians
by David Holden
above: The multiplication of loaves and fishes.
All of Orthodoxy honors St. Nikodemos of Athos for providing us with the Philokalia. Less well known is his Exomologetarion: A Manual of Confession. First published in 1794, it contains the following story:
A king once happened to confess to a farmer, who was discreetly a Spiritual Father, and after having confessed his sins, said to the Spiritual Father, “I don’t have anything else to say to you.” “How so, O king?” said the Spiritual Father. “How? Have we finished the confession? No. You have said the sins of Alexis (stating the king’s first name), say now the sins of the king.” That wise Spiritual Father wanted to show by these words that every ruler and head, foreign or domestic, must not only confess as an individual or be examined by a Spiritual Father as a common person, but in addition to the sins he committed as a person, he must also confess those things he could have done as a ruler unto the good of his people but did not do, and as many bad things as happened to his subjects on his account which he did not correct, for which he will have to give an exact account to God.
This story illustrates the Orthodox Christian attitude regarding the relationship between faith and life in the world. When Orthodox people are in positions of authority and power, they are expected to follow Christ in those positions just as they follow Him in their private lives.
But what does that mean? The task of people in positions of authority is not to create a “Christian state” or “Christian corporation” or “Christian theater.” Only people can be Christian. Christ came to make people partakers of the divine nature, not institutions, agencies or businesses. The task is to do all that is possible to create an environment that will help people to see Christ, seek Christ, and find Christ.
To be more particular: How then do we bring the domains of commerce and finance under the lordship of Christ? We know the fundamental principles of Orthodox ethics that pertain to economics: that the material world was created good and beautiful and that it is appropriate to have and to pray for “the abundance of the fruits of the earth;” that poverty is an evil, not a virtue – a plight to be eased, not to be worsened; that indebtedness is not good; that living simply is; that the love of money has been and can easily be a root for all kinds of evil; that God commands us to seek justice and right relationships at all times and with all people; that charging interest is morally questionable, and certainly wrong when it is charged to people merely seeking the necessities of life; that it is about as easy for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. We Orthodox know all these principles, or at least we have heard them and know that we ought to practice them. The particular question here is, How do we create an environment that embodies those principles? Knowing that we Orthodox, like all the rest of the human race, are fallen creatures, prone to all kinds of sins both voluntary and involuntary, and knowing that all organizations and institutions magnify and entrench our sins, what kind of economic structures might restrain our sinfulness and encourage justice?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.
Access to adequate medical attention, the pope said in a written message Nov. 18, was one of the "inalienable rights" of man.
The pope's message was read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry at the Vatican Nov. 18-19.
The theme of this year's meeting was "Caritas in Veritate - toward an equitable and human health care."CNS STORY: Pope, church leaders call for guaranteed health care for all people