New things which never grow old

Sunday past was the 120th Anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, meaning of new things. You might be thinking “so what?” “Why is this one so important to remember?”

All encyclicals have great importance in their time but some transcend time because the root of the problem they remedy are a constant and fundamental threat to the physical, moral and supernatural wellbeing of man. Rerum Novarum is one such encyclical. And as you will see, many of the basic rights we take for granted, have their origin in this encyclical.

Of new things Is quite an apt title. Leo XIII was the first pope to address matters of economics and politics in an authoritative, papal document.

“But Religion has nothing to do with politics or economics!”shouted his critics in protest. WRONG! It is the soul and compass of all
political and economic systems. The King is not dead, the King does not sleep. It is YOU who are dead, for you have separated the Church from the State, like the soul passing from the body.

Pope Leo XIII rubber-stamped Christ back into the heart of public life: “We affirm that if the Church is disregarded, human striving will be in vain”.

His Holiness could no longer remain silent. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and the fruits were rotten. Work conditions were unhealthy, wages low. There was a lot of cruelty against women and children, and a growing gap between the rich and the poor. For the majority of businessmen, money was their only aim. Predictably, the working class rebelled with riots and machine wrecking.

How was society to resolve this increasing polarity between the rich and the poor? Socialism became fashionable. It proposed to divest the wealthy of their riches and evenly divide the spoils to all. A very attractive proposal to the “Lazarus” class of this world, daily feeding off the crumbs of the rich.

NO, said the Pope. Socialism is pernicious. It strips man of the fundamental right to provide for his own on his own (land). It strips work of its individual character, creating monolithic movements of men’s minds and bodies, cogs in the great socialist machine without a face.

So if Socialism is out, Capitalism must be the Catholic Church’s choice? Firstly, the Catholic Church does not have a preference of
societal governance, just as long as the moral precepts are upheld, the common good is served and the Church is given its freedom to guide her children to God.

So, does Capitalism live up to all these things? And if not, why didn’t Pope Leo XIII strongly condemn it like Socialism? In short, Capitalism does all of these things (maintain moral rectitude and the common good, support the Church), but very poorly. Man was born with original sin. He has strong tendencies to evil. Without the cleansing of baptism and a strong injection of the Holy Ghost, he will naturally gravitate to sin and commit evil. This is Capitalism. It is reformable with the help of its mother the Church, but without an infusion of Christian principles and laws, it is doomed to destruction, self-destruction.

So though Capitalism isn’t intrinsically evil, it was not purpose-built for the job. Its origins are simply not Catholic, but Protestant
(with and unhealthy injection of Jewish backing and money).

In the next posting, I’ll explore the principles laid out by Pope Leo XIII, principles we need in the quest for a Christian State.

That’s the Difference…..A Fire in my Belly

So we did it. On Sunday, 1st May, six of us took to the streets of Winchester and spent the afternoon with three homeless, giving them food, drink and a sympathetic ear. THREE! IS THAT ALL? Let me re-phrase it. There were three men who would have received NOTHING if we had contented ourselves to spend an average Sunday in the comfort of our homes. That’s the difference.

Sure, we had our hiccups. I poured the tea for the first guest we saw. The dark fluid caused alarms to ring in my mind. A somewhat light colour had been expected. But after sending one of the helpers to buy milk, I was content that at least we had provided the quintessential English hospitality of a cup of tea!  However, my relief was short lived when someone asked  “Do you take sugar?” But quick thinking brought McDonalds to the rescue! 😉 And then we couldn’t find many of them. The homeless have a knack of blending into the stonework, to the pleasure of the local council, but to our disappointment.

However, I was comforted by the thought that in Sacred Scripture, numbers are significant but quantities mean nothing. The greatest battles were won with the smallest armies and the smallest numbers signify the greatest mysteries. The signification of three needs no explanation. But what of six? Judas Machabeus originally called up six thousand men, and won many victories over an enemy of far greater number. Ok, we’re not six warriors, but we did strike a dent in the demonic plan in expanding the work of the Divine Plan.

And, lastly, I have to say, we really enjoyed it. Though our guests were getting well fed and watered, a fire was set in my belly, filling me with much joy. There’s something blessed about meeting up with God again in these people.

So all in all, a well-spent afternoon: making a difference and igniting a fire in our bellies.

Why you should vote NO this Thursday

In two day’s time, our electoral system could radically change. And if it does, it will not be for the better.
The nation will have to choose between our current electoral system of First pass the post (FPTP)                                                                                                                                                           or a new system called Alternative Vote (AV), where voters not only choose their No. 1 candidate, but also can list other candidates in order of preference.

This posting is to explain what AV is (most don’t have the foggiest) and why, as Catholics and, equally as citizens, its implementation would be disastrous for our country.

Under FPTP, the candidate with the most votes wins. It’s that simple.
Under AV, the person with the most votes doesn’t necessary win. What? Let me explain (now pay attention, it does get complicated).
To get elected, a candidate must get at least 50% of the votes available. So what happens if no candidate achieves this? Firstly, remember that voters can list more than one candidate in an order of preference (however, voters are free to list only one candidate).
When there is no majority choice, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and all second preference candidates (who are still in the contest) on the ballot papers of the eliminated candidate, receive that vote. If this doesn’t produce a clear majority vote for a candidate (50% or more), then the process repeats with the redistribution of the votes of the next candidate with the least votes based on the 3rd preference.

So what is so wrong with that?
Under FPTP, you vote for the person who you want to represent you. If you don’t care, you don’t vote.
Under AV, candidates will get into power by receiving “second-rated” votes, quite likely ticked without proper thought or insight into the candidates worthiness.
AV violates the nature of the vote and will take advantage of people’s apathy to politics.

It is also wide open to tactical abuse. This is more complicated to explain, but put simply, parties will get supporters to vote in such a way that their candidates are less likely to be eliminated. And this isn’t a simple case of listing preference. Confused? This link should explain it better:

If AV does get in, then the only choice we have is to tick the box next to the candidate of choice (affectively voting like under FPTP). Therefore your vote cannot be transferred to another candidate.

FPTP is not a perfect system, but it is fairer, more transparent and proportional than AV. Know where your vote goes. Vote “NO”.