Saturday, April 10, 2010

Money isn't Everything: But it Helps

From a Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops news release:
"Catholics Donate Almost $60 Million Through Special Sunday Collection for Haiti"
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (April 8, 2010)

"Another $60+ million donated by individuals, groups through Catholic Relief Services"
"CRS now focusing on long-term reconstruction"
"Church in Latin America Subcommittee to help rebuild the Church in Haiti"

"A special Collection for Haiti in Catholic parishes nationwide has raised $58.7 million to date.

"On January 13, one day after a devastating 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti's capital, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), appealed to Catholics across the country to help Haiti through parish collections.

" 'I cannot even begin to say how thankful we are to all the people who have so selflessly given to help the people in Haiti,' Archbishop Dolan said. 'It is an amazing example of love and faith in action.'

"In their appeal the bishops explained that '[f]unds will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services…as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care, as well as to the long-term need to rebuild after widespread destruction, and to meet the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in Haiti.'

"A majority of the funds collected will support CRS' continued humanitarian relief. Funds also will be used to rebuild and support the Church in Haiti.

" 'CRS, with over 300 staff on the ground in Haiti, started helping people immediately,' said Archbishop Dolan. 'They have been providing food, temporary shelter, hygiene kits, water and sanitation services around the clock for tens of thousands at parishes, makeshift camps, and other sites throughout the Port-au-Prince. In the long run, CRS will be there with the Haitian people to help them rebuild.'..."
There's quite a bit more to the press release.

About a quarter-million of that came from the St. Cloud Diocese, here in central Minnesota. I've written about that before.

Hypothetical Extremes

These days, a person probably won't run into too much of this sort of opinion:
  1. Why should I give? Let those [redacted] lift themselves by their own bootstraps, just like I did
  2. Oh, how can you think that mere money will suffice? Is it not better to tend to their spiritual needs?
At least, I hope neither of these (rather extreme) views is very common.

I've run into both: but then, I haven't been all that picky about who I talk with, and have been around people for decades. The latter sort of 'spirituality' isn't all that common, happily - I haven't run into it in a long time. For which I'm grateful.

Lifting Yourself By Your Bootstraps: Great, If You've Got Boots

That 'bootstrap' remark is another thing. Back in the sixties, I heard it fairly often. I prefer to think that many of the men who said it were quite sincere. They quite likely didn't realize that their background was a little special. Most were:
  • From a white, middle-class family
  • Served in WWII
  • Almost certainly got
    • G.I. grants
    • Low-interest loans
    • Entered the job market at the start of one of America's biggest economic booms
I have no problem with the grants and loans. I wish that America always treated its soldiers well. Which is another topic.

I don't think they "deserved" all those breaks. And I don't think they "didn't deserve" all those breaks. I'm in a better position than I might have been, as a result of some choices my ancestors made. I'm also from a family who doesn't own a good-size acreage of downtown Chicago because of some choices other ancestors made.

But I don't need the trouble I'd earn at the final judgment, assuming superiority over others on the basis of the breaks I got - and didn't get.

About that 'bootstrap' remark? Yeah: the guys who said that had worked hard for what they had. But lifting yourself by your bootstraps means you need bootstraps. And, for that matter, boots.

Too Heavenly-Minded to be Any Earthly Good

I don't doubt that Haitians need spiritual support. We all do. They also need food, clothing, shelter, medical supplies, and both clean water and a functioning sewer system.

I hope that building shelters moves along promptly. If there aren't enough weatherproof buildings up next month, I'm afraid that a lot of folks are going to start dying.

Haiti's climate is nicer than Minnesota's: but the rainy season is coming.

So: do I think that there's more to life than money? You bet!

But it's important. I'd say vital, but there have been economies based on barter - and feudal Europe's system of interlocking personal obligations. And I'm getting off-topic.

Money, Loving Money, and Getting a Grip

The problem, I think, isn't money - it's loving money: making an idol of the almighty buck.

As I've written before:

The Church is rather specific when it comes to the matter of idolatry.

We're not supposed to do it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2110-2114)

"Idolatry" isn't just worshiping a statue:
"Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'..."
(Catechism, 2113)
That "mammon" quote is from Luke 16:13.

Speaking of which:
A list of charities you've probably heard about already, with links and some contact information: Also a list of posts in this, and two other blogs, about Haiti.
Related posts:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.