26 March, 2010

On Social Justice: Could Glen Beck be the next pope??

With all the attention given to the sex-abuse scandals, there has been little attention to the Church's long-standing teaching on social justice. However, the bishops' position on the immigration issue seems to have made it a "new" source of attack on the Church.

Recently FOX network commentator Glen Beck has attacked all those who use terms like "social justice" and "economic justice" as un-American; even accusing them of being, or being like, "socialists," "communists" or "fascists." More astounding yet, he aims his comments at Christens and specifically at the Catholic Church.

On 25 March Stephen Colbert used his cutting humor to seriously respond to Beck. You can see and hear Colbert's response on the Colbert Report. This segment is extremely funny, partly because Colbert is a Catholic and knows whereof he speaks. At the end of the show Stephen interviews Fr. James Martin, SJ who also has been attacked by Glen Beck.

At the end of the program, Colbert asks Fr. Martin if, in the unfortunate and most unlikely case, that Pope Benedict had to resign and Glen Beck were elected pope, what would he do. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face Fr. Martin said, "I'd leave the Church just as Beck recommends."

At bottom, Glen Back is ignorant of, yet still opposed to  the Catholic understanding of the the Gospel message as currently and steadily proclaimed for the last 120 years by the popes. Anyone who wishes to get to the core of the "social justice" doctrine and ethic of the Catholic Church can begin with the following papal encyclicals:

See also the Vatican II documents (passim) especially:
    The above links will take you to the Vatican website (English versions). There are "brief versions" on the Vatican website as well as a few commentaries. Commentaries from other sources vary in their interpretation of the documents. Be careful. And know well the source of who makes the postings!!

    For the serious person (Catholic or non-Catholic) who wishes to understand the common themes of social justice in the Catholic tradition, it is important to be familiar with the entire social justice teaching of the Church. Glen Beck is most certainly not one of them.


    1. Hey Ken,

      Wow I am surpirse to hear this about Glenn Beck, I like him, I mean I try to watch his show as much as possible at least two times a week. I must have missed his anti-catholic comments.I do agree with most of his politlcal view, this current president is causing great harm to our nation (my humble opinion don't try to change it, never happen). I am glad you post something positive about the Holy Father, he can not be forced to resign. No one can make him do this, besides I don't see that he has done nothing wrong. I stopped listening to the attacks on the pope, I know most lies and fueled by the liberal media. This is why I am shocked that glenn beck said these things (if he actually did). wow this blows me away...thanks-davide

    2. Hey, I feel like an idiot guess I should have watched the video. I understand where Glenn Beck is coming from. He is speaking about social justice that the president and the liberals want. They do not want true "social justice" they want inslavement. Its not justice when healthcare will be rationed and thousands will die, It not justice when our national debt will be 20 trillion dollars after Obama leaves office. It not social justice to steal from the rich give to the poor. Its not social justice to go against the will of the American people. The Catholic bishops are against this Obama care. They said so. Why? because its not social justice to kill children. The amendment that Obama signed into law isn't worth the paper it is written on. Those pro-life democrats went back on their word and were cowards. Obama knows nothing about social justice. Glenn Beck stated that they will use social justice to put forth their agenda. Think we need to look at the whole video or radio show to understand this. Socialist, communist, and facist are not social justice. Its funny to me that the democrat party talks about social justice when they themselves are the party of racism. Racism is not social justice. Our president has nothing in common with the social justice the catholic church teaches. thanks-davide

    3. Davide,

      I've had to work today putting new shelves in a closet. The old shelves collapsed. I started to respond to to today's blog and will get back to that today.

      In that blog you asked your friends (I hope I'm one counted in that group) to be more straightforward with you and tell you when they disagree with you. I will say more on that in my other response to you.

      I know your opinions are very firm on many issues of faith and politics. To me it isn't worth my time to consider Glen Beck.

      But I am interested in the theology and practice of social justice. I know you may not have the time nor the desire, but I'd suggest anyone who wants to know what the Catholic Church teaches on social justice, read those encyclicals I listed. The only more "official" statement of the Church's position issues are the formal infallible statement of a pope (E.g the dogma of the Assumption of Mary) or the statements of a general Council of the Church (E.g. Vatican I, Vatican II).

      I would hope that study of what the Church says and prayer would change your mind, but that is between you, God, and the Church. It is not my right or responsibility to "try and change your mind."

    4. Ken,
      I do need to read up on the church view on social justice. I will get to it someday. But I do get what Glenn Beck is saying. My father who is a devout Catholic and a very good man likes Glenn Beck. I guess I do (all of us kids do) get a lot of our opionions from our parents. Its normal to be influenced by parents. My mother and father are pro-life rebuplicans, when we moved here my father wanted nothing to do with the democrat party, even though many of his views were more in line with them. It was their racial history and thier view of abortion that bothered him. They believe the democrat party is now to far left and leaning heavy on communism, no one will deny Obama is heavly influence by communist. Many of his closes friends are communist.

      But America voted for him now we will see how much change this man is going to do. Next it will be the banking system and then the illegal alien issue. The liberals will grant amenesty to the aliens for the hispanic vote, this is the only reason.

      The democrat party has nothing to do with social justice or do are they even close to church teaching. Any polital party that believes in the killing of 40 million children is not for social justice. Killing children is not social justice.

      You think I don't believe in social justice cause I do not support the democrat party.Its because I do support social justice I do not support the democrats. I will never ever support a party that supports the killing of children. Never!

      Can you give me some examples of social justice like true or false something simple so I can easily understand. I will gladly give you my view.

      thanks ken-davide

    5. Davide, I just spent 3 hours responding to your comment above. I think it was the best I've ever posted to you and would put us on the right track on this issue. I will TRY to re-do it tomorrow. Peace.

    6. Davide, I just spent another hour and a half replying to you and it wouldn't send again. Will email it to you.

    7. Dear Sebastian,

      It is important for you to listen to the Glenn Beck's commentary on "Social Justice" for yourself. It is also important for you to quote him and disagree with that particular quote. He spent a great deal of time talking about faith, hope and charity. He discussed the term "Social Justice" and its miss use. "Social Justice" is a term that is often twisted to fit a political ideal as opposed to the religious ideal of charity. "Liberation Theology" will hide under the label of "Social Justice". "Social Justice" sounds good, but the term is never found in the Bible.

    8. Joseph,

      I will try to look at the entire segment on Beck's own website, as you suggest.

      I agree with you that some people stretch and twist the concept of "social justice" for political ends. I also agree that there is some room for differing legitimate, authentic interpretations of "social justice."

      However, I believe that the best source of learning what Catholics understand by social justice is to read the Encyclicals and Vatican II documents I list in my blog. In addition the U.S. Catholic bishops formally teach about social justice.

      Thank you for your comment. Dialogue is always the best route.


      I really don't think Beck should be telling Catholics to switch parishes if they hear homilies too often using the terms, "social justice" or "economic justice."


    Comments most welcome.