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NY Times Sees Old Church vs. New Church

The New York Times is criticizing Ave Maria Mutual Funds, whose Web site promises “smart investing and Catholic values.”

Now, I'm not getting into the merits of the company which I don't know. I don't have the money to do much investing anyway. But the Times Editorial Staff used a little story about Ave Maria as a jumping off point to make a political point about the Church.

Ave Maria says it is designed for people who want to put their money “in companies that do not violate core teachings of the Catholic Church.” It says it screens companies using moral guidelines established by its “Catholic Advisory Board,” which includes such prominent Catholics as Thomas Monaghan, founder of the Domino’s pizza chain, and the columnist Phyllis Schlafly.

Ave Maria, whose logo is a cross and open book within a Gothic window, conveys the implicit certainty that its vision of Catholic teaching is the correct one, that it has not misstepped in treading between God and Mammon. But anyone familiar with church politics will see that it stands starkly on one side of the old, deep ideological fault line that divides the church’s conservative and liberal wings.

To oversimplify, one side focuses its moral energies on abortion, contraception and other issues of sexual morality. The other is more likely also to weigh in on issues like poverty, war, nonviolence and social justice, topics on which Jesus Christ’s scriptural record is more explicit.
Because you know that no Catholic who's pro-life cares at all about poverty. And Jesus' views on the value of life are rather murky when compared to his thesis on how government programs are the key to solving the problems of poverty.

But then the Times brings in a rather surprising hero to bolster their point:
One person who bestrode these conflicts with stalwart consistency was Pope John Paul II. He is remembered as a staunch and eloquent defender of church teachings against abortion, contraception and euthanasia. But he did so while broadly proclaiming the sanctity of life and the value of peace. He condemned the Iraq war in 2003 as unjustified, fiercely defended workers against capitalism’s excesses, and deplored the death penalty, writing in a 1995 encyclical that circumstances under which capital punishment could be justified were all but nonexistent.

Ave Maria hews to a far narrower, unmistakably conservative Catholic outlook. A prime objective, explicitly promised, is not to subsidize sexual indecency. Scan its investor materials and you will not find companies like Playboy Enterprises or firms that donate to Planned Parenthood or bestow health benefits on same-sex couples.

But you will find United Technologies, which makes Blackhawk helicopters; General Dynamics, builder of Abrams battle tanks and the Stryker combat vehicle; the junk-food giant ConAgra; Exxon Mobil; Halliburton; and Smith & Wesson, one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world. (Here is a helpful Q. from Smith & Wesson’s “Investor FAQ” Web page: “Does Smith & Wesson still make the 44 Magnum used in the ‘Dirty Harry’ films? Yes, that gun is the Model 29.”)

Many Catholics will applaud this corporate lineup. Others will blanch. As always, they should read the prospectus carefully before they invest or send money.
Funny that the Times is all of a sudden praising John Paul II. This is the same paper that published Times columnist Bill Keller who wrote of John Paul II: "He has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church...Karol Wojtyla has shaped a hierarchy that is intolerant of dissent, unaccountable to its members, secretive in the extreme and willfully clueless about how people live."

And by the Times article, one would think that the Catholic Church is against any and all weaponry in all circumstances, which it of course is not. The Catholic Church is also not against guns. But hey, you know what it is pretty clear against - killing babies. You see, there's a little difference between defending oneself from attackers and slaughtering innocents in the womb. I guess the Times doesn't see that.

Only the New York Times would see an equivalence between America's armed forces and Planned Parenthood. I'm actually pretty sure out of the two, the Times would support Planned Parenthood a heck of a lot more.

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Adoro said...

Did you notice how they also divorced "abortion, contraeption" et. al. from "the sanctity of life"?

They put life issues on both sides of their "but", and said he embraced them both.


Journalists have to be idiots...they have to pass a test before they can start writing.

The Aldouf Huxley award should go to the Media before any other professions are considered.

Anonymous said...

They also trot out the old canard that JPII "condemned" the Iraq War. He did not. He worked to avoid it; he made general statements that applied to both sides; but he did not condemn it.
If he had, so what? The Catholic Church's teaching on who has the ultimate authority to determine whether war is justified is the legitimate government--not the Pope or Bishops or media.
JPII knew this and that had he specifically condemned Bush or the war it would have been in opposition to Just War theology. He worked earnestly to head it off as any morally sane person would have. The quotes people bring up are very general or out of context (my favorite is when JPII's criticism of the Iraqi government is used as if he were criticizing Bush).

Nzie said...

They're idiots. To apply political terms to the Church is ridiculously inappropriate, and they clearly don't get it -- we're about ALL those things, not one, not two, not half. We have orders like the Carmelites that are cloistered and contemplative, we have the Missionaries of Charity living and working with the poor. These aren't even opposite sides of the same coin; they're all sections on the same canvas painting the complete picture.

These people are idiots.. did I mention that?

Subvet said...


LarryD said...

I have no problem with Ave Maria Funds investing in companies that produce weapons. We are the Church Militant after all.

W. Schrift said...

A genuine "seamless garment" approach condemns both the killing of incipient human lives and fully-grown human beings. Whether or not "conservative" or "liberal" Catholics tend to stress one or the other I don't know.

Given that babies are being slaughtered in our own neighborhoods, right now, it seems more expedient to me that one ought to focus on that particular evil than on the execution of felons, or the poverty on another continent... not that I'm being utilitarian here; it's just logical that someone who really sees what's at stake is going to tackle the close-to-home, save-our-culture-so-we-can-continue-being-Catholics-in-the-first-place issues.

Jonathan said...

I think the point they miss in their oversimplification (by their own admission!) is that the issue of abortion and the sanctity of life can not be separated from any of the Church's teachings on morality. Once a society allows an entire group of people to be treated as second-class, stripping them of all human rights and dignity, it starts down a very slippery slope and will find it extremely difficult to reverse course. The United States, or at least a very vocal and powerful minority, has taken a blase attitude towards the unborn. If the most vulnerable can not be treated with care and respect, and we allow them to be killed according to our whims, then life in all stages becomes meaningless and loses its sanctity. Now that we have shown the utmost disrespect for life in its earliest stages, we are trending in the same direction in its latter stages through the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. What is the message? Human beings have no value unless they can care for themselves. And it is precisely that attitude that prevents us from working towards true social justice. A blase attitude towards the sanctity of human life means we turn a collective blind eye to the beggar on the street, the hungry at our door. Where do those who scream for social justice and yet donate to Planned Parenthood draw the line? When does a human become dignified? Is there a specific moment? If we don't recognize the inherent value and dignity of a human in utero, why suddenly flip the switch and recognize it ex utero (if you'll allow the phrase)? True social justice will only come when the value and worth of human life is recognized. Poverty, war, nonviolence: these are all pro-life issues. Every one of the issues that the NYT mentions has a pro-life aspect to it, inasmuch as at their core they deal with the rights and the value of human life and human beings. It's not a question of "old" versus "new" or "conservative" versus "liberal". It's a question of Catholic versus non-Catholic. The point is, if we want true social justice, we must address the sanctity of human life. If human life is not sacred, then why do we care about issues like poverty? Why do we care that our brothers and sisters may not have enough to eat? What are their lives worth? No, all human life is sacred, and only when we collectively believe that will we truly begin to work for justice and equality. This is the big point that the NYT misses; social justice is totally and wholly inseparable from the Church's pro-life teachings.

Nzie said...

I don't know for sure that AM Investing is actually following church teaching, but I do know the NYT is singularly unqualified to evaluate it.

Kudos to W. Schrift for a great comment, among the several here.

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