Embarrassed to be Catholic

Today after church there was a sale in the church basement — handcrafts, religious items, coffee, and chocolate. We bought two chocolate bars, a bracelet, and a Christmas tree ornament, because the quality/cost tradeoff was good. But now I am sorry we did.

This is the organization that was running the sale:

CRS Fair Trade

Their website is full of horrors (well not really horrors, but things which set my teeth on edge). It’s not just the use of the words “fair” and “justice” all over the place in a morally bullying way, or the incredibly high concentration of what RV calls “wooden language”. There’s also the political advocacy for the DREAM Act and the encouragement of congress to take advantage of the lame-duck session to pass it while they can (unfortunately some of the bishops also support this legislation, though others don’t). I am going to complain to my pastor and my bishop about this.

As for “fair trade” — I have no problem at all with a church-affiliated organization encouraging private charity to impoverished campesinos by participating in a program to buy goods they helped produce at “fair” prices which kick back more profits to those peasants than the market would otherwise give them, especially since they are actually members of my church. But there are TWO BIG RED FLAGS here (regarding “fair trade” movements in general, in addition to the specific political problems I have with this particular organization as detailed above).

Red Flag 1: There is NO accounting of how the money flows back. If I am paying 25 cents extra for a chocolate bar because 20 cents of that will get back to the villagers who picked the cacao beans and 5 cents will cover the expenses of the whole program, fine. But if the villagers are getting 5 cents and the clever activists who thought this all up are pocketing 20 cents, no way Jose.

Red Flag 2: The appeal itself should distinguish between economic value and moral value and explicitly state that a charitable contribution is being solicited. Instead, it is cast in pseudo-moral language that suggests that low wages themselves are an injustice in the strong sense that participating in the ordinary free market and buying the lower-price chocolate for which the cacao-pickers get less of a cut is morally reprehensible, or at least morally inferior. Charity is finite — no charitable appeal has the right to imply that if you don’t give to THEIR charity specifically you are failing in your moral obligation to be charitable, because there are thousands of competing charities to which I might give my money.

As for whether there is a moral obligation to be charitable — as a Christian, I accept that, but it is a private matter where and how much I give to charity, and I will only give to causes I consider worthy. I give money to my parish every week, because I appreciate what they do in general, but I’m definitely going to have a talk with my pastor about the sale today.


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8 Responses to Embarrassed to be Catholic

  1. FortitudineVincimus says:


    In general, Benedict seems to be on the right track, but the Catholic Church has, through its scandals, emasculated itself.

    I blame Vatican II.

    Of course, in today’s media, emotional reactions count for more than common sense, so it no longer matters who is right for what reasons. If someone feels offended, and they shout loud enough then that’s the story that gets told.

    So the Church could be as common sense as we want, but in the end, in order not to have the politicians and media hounding them, they have to hop on the PC bandwagon with the rest. That includes partnering up with hopelessly useless causes.

  2. FortitudineVincimus, and this is how the church becomes an enemy, instead of being the resistance. The church should have got good at PR, instead of becoming an agent of evil.

  3. PA says:

    the Catholic Church has, through its scandals, emasculated

    The Catholic Church’s mistake was compromising with Leftism. In fact, the Vatican, from the top down, is no less leftist than the English department at Oberlin, barring its conservative stance on reproductive ethics.

    The church should have got good at PR,

    I wonder is simply standing firm and staying NO to leftism would constitute 75% of effective PR.

    instead of becoming an agent of evil.

    I don’t say this lightly when I note that Vatican’s exortations for open borders and third world mass immigration is anything less that pure evil.

  4. Jehu says:

    My wife and I recently complained to our denomination about some of the literature at their yearly meeting from some of the other flavors of Quakers. We pointed out that we were terribly offended by this—my wife used the ‘finding Nazi symbols painted all over a Jewish temple’ metaphor I provided for her. The literature in question was anti-natalist targetted at SWPLs and also effectively pro-abortion, two things we find entirely impossible to square with scripture or church tradition.

    Strategically, I make the same recommendation to Catholics as I’ve made to my pastor. Pull your enemy onto the ground where he has no cover and can be exposed, expelled, or forced to repent according to his choice. That ground for Catholics is the abortion issue. Get ultra-rigid on it. If you force the pro-choicers to chose abortion or Catholicism you’ll also do massive collateral damage to the other doctrinal miscreants in your church. Many of them might even repent. Neurotypicals are like that—if you force them to knuckle under to you publically and in an abject fashion, they’ll construct a mental narrative that makes them sound less cowardly—they’ll frequently convince themselves that they have come to believe that abortion is an abomination before God rather than the truth, which is that they were forced to surrender or be severed from a large part of their cultural identity. That move doesn’t work worth a damn on people like myself, but unlike most people like myself, I recognize that I am profoundly alien to the neurotypical in this fashion. The neurotypical’s only real defense against this is something like the ‘holy deception’ most associated with Islam, otherwise his brain (read, his rationalisation hamster) will frequently betray him, particularly if the condition persists for a long time.

  5. PA, that’s not enough because leftists are brilliant at PR and narratives. If you just say no, you get defiled like non-leftists got. You have to realize that leftists are an enemy, not an opponent that simply think something else is good for your people. They hate you. Deal with it like they’re your enemy.

  6. PA says:

    leftists are brilliant at PR and narratives

    This raises a question: are leftists somehow *essentially* a separate breed, or are they basically normal people of various qualities that otherwise got infected by the Leftism virus.

    If you just say no, you get defiled like non-leftists got.

    Smooth apologists here and there aside, Islam makes no effort whatsoever to spin effective PR; it revels in its brutishness. But its response to global leftism is a big NO. Catholicism could too assume a rock-hard attitude of defiance, and have a similar success tingiling (some) ginas and impressing wavering Westerners.

    Of course, one can argue that Islam is a dumb-lucky beneficiary of Leftists; their useful but opportunistic tool. Even in that scenario, an apologetically reactionary Catholicism could play that opportunistic role.

    As is, Catholicism appeals to people who are nostalgic for its old traditions, and old ladies.

    You have to realize that leftists are an enemy

    Of course they are.

  7. PA, the truth is that leftism is a spin on Christian ethics and this is why former Christians are moved by it. A Muslim will never be moved by universal values or equality and so on because everything about Islam rejects those two. So Islam can reject leftism fairly easily. Also, Muslims are foreigners – they’re not Europeans. They also don’t mind killing people who dissent, in case you didn’t notice.

    But as a European, you can argue in between leftism and Catholicism. And again, this wouldn’t have been a problem if Catholicism would have been the state religion. Once you accept secular governance though, you lose in this regard.

    Also, leftists don’t have a problem with Islam and they don’t portray it as evil. They’d do it in a heartbeat to Catholics. They do it even with the joke that Catholicism is today.

    Oh, and Polymath, don’t feel bad. I’m embarrassed to be European/white.
    You might enjoy reading that.

  8. RV, that was a great post at GoV. I replied there to your comment there. You are right about Islam and leftism and I remain astonished at how leftists can possibly not recognize how they are merely being Islam’s useful idiots. I don’t understand how any leftist could defend the left’s attitudes in Europe after reading that GoV post, and why nobody seems to be able to force them to confront publicly the very well-documented facts that writer cites.

    PA, it is not that the Vatican is demanding open borders and mass immigration, but many Catholics are agitating for that and the Vatican is not doing enough to stop it. In America most of the bishops are on the wrong side of this, but some have said clearly both that the laws must be upheld, and that the state has a right to make laws that control its border and restrict immigration.

    Here is a recent quote from Pope Benedict, whose view seems more balanced and less “pure evil” than PA suggests:

    “States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host Country, respecting its laws and its national identity.”

    Jehu, I agree, especially with this: “If you force the pro-choicers to chose abortion or Catholicism you’ll also do massive collateral damage to the other doctrinal miscreants in your church.”

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