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By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/29/2010 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The group calling itself Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good involved in new controversy

The Chairman of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" used the "Huffington Post" to foment dissent. His organization confuses the true teaching of Catholic Social Doctrine. "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" is neither authentically Catholic nor concerned about the true Common Good. 

Faithful Catholic theologian Dr. Janet Smith and the Chairman of 'Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good', Fred Rotondaro.

Faithful Catholic theologian Dr. Janet Smith and the Chairman of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good", Fred Rotondaro.

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By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/29/2010 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In a May 25, 2010 article in the "Huffington Post" entitled "The World Needs a New Vatican Council"  Fred Rotondaro, identified as a "Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC." wrote what might have been considered a "silly" article, if it were not so serious. He apparently does not understand the teaching of the last great Council of the Church, Vatican II.  And, to make this even more tragic, this man is the Chairman of the Board of the group that calls itself "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good." 

I was one of those Catholics who wanted to give this organization the benefit of the doubt for a long time when they began their efforts. After all, any authentic understanding of that branch of Moral theology called "Catholic Social Doctrine" admits that this teaching is neither left nor right, "liberal" or "conservative".

There is room in this body of insights on how to build a truly just social and economic order for the thought of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Hillaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Michael Novak, George Weigel....., all are within the realm of genuine orthodoxy. There is room for disagreement on the application of some of the principles found within Catholic Social teaching, in areas of prudential judgement. The real question is whether we believe the truth claims of the Catholic Church into which we were all Baptized and then seek to apply them authentically in our social mission!

To be a Catholic means to be dedicated to the truth concerning the dignity of every human person, the primacy of marriage and the family founded upon it, the implications and obligations of human freedom, and solidarity with the poor and needy. All of which must be applied through a proper application of the social ordering principle called "subsidiarity". This entails an understanding of good governance and takes into account the "common good" as it is authentically taught by the Church.
 
We are aided in our efforts to understand all of this - and to propose it to an age which is in desperate need of its liberating potential - by listening to the gift which the Lord Himself has given to us, the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church. 

This group calling itself "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" have disappointed me for the last time. They have compromised their own mission. They make this claim: "Catholics in Alliance is a resource for Catholics inspired by our faith's core teachings about justice, human life and dignity, peace, poverty and the common good."  To this, when I consider some of their public positions, I now say "Nonsense"!

They also reject some of what is clearly and unchangeably taught by the teaching office of the Church and bring that dissent into a public forum. At least the Chairman of the Board of the Organization does! They have become a fifth column, a clandestine group seeking to undermine the very Church they claim to represent in the Public arena! They are also undermining the genuine social mission of the Catholic Church by misrepresenting her teachings in the public eye.

Some of my friends, clearly identified with the "conservative" movement, had written the group off from the beginning. I must admit, I have long believed that the failures of the "religious right" and the dangers of some approaches to "libertarianism", required we who are Catholics to articulate a different vision of the renewal of human culture, which includes political participation.

That includes a truly Catholic vision for political participation. Not just a conservative or neo-conservative ideology with a rosary wrapped around it. So, I had been hoping this group would prove my "conservative first" friends to be wrong and show us all a faithful alternative in some of their positions. However, this recent rant by Fred Rotondaro, the Chairman of the Board of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" has led me to wonder again whether the organization is authentically Catholic or truly committed to the true Common Good. 

It is, in effect, a Trojan horse, seeking to undermine the truth as revealed by the Catholic Church right when this teaching is so desperately needed. It is a front, trying to look and sound "Catholic" while taking positions and advocating stands which are, at times, at odds with this claim.

This age is infected by what was properly described by Pope Benedict XVI as a "Dictatorship of relativism". There are moral truths which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason and which are revealed by the Natural Law. Such truths should inform our efforts at good governance and ground our common life together. They are essential to rescuing the West from an impending collapse in the current moral vacuum.

When I read that recent rant from the Chairman of the Board of a group called "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good", I had to speak out. It is clear that he rejects much of the teaching of the very Church he claims to embrace. He professes what St Paul warned of as "another gospel". (see, Gal. 1:8,9)  In addition, he rejects much of the authentic liberating social justice message of that Church while claiming to espouse it. The teaching of the Church is not some antiquated, outdated vision of the past, but the path to a true future of freedom!

One of my favorite theologians, a modern Deborah for our time, is Dr. Janet Smith. In an interview with Catholic News Agency she cut through the nonsense. The Catholic News Agency is an outreach of the Christian Life movement, http://www.clmusa.org/. They covered her response in an article entitled "Janet Smith: Catholics in Alliance leader shows poor judgment with Church council call."  

I will be responding in other articles in the coming days to his comments. What is at stake are the true teachings of the Church and what is called Catholic Social Doctrine. Like the fable we all remember from our childhood, the "Emperor has no Clothes", the group calling itself "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" is neither authentically Catholic nor concerned about the Common Good. 

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