Morality Catechism Study in St. Petersburg 5/26

 “Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.”  Catechism of the Catholic Church

Morality.  Seems pretty easy to figure out, doesn’t it?  Well, sometimes people go down certain paths to work for good, and actually work for evil without intending to.  Sometimes people have good intentions and don’t consider the unintended consequences.  There are times when people get so caught up in working for a good end, they actually forget that “the ends do not justify the means”. This is the case with the Political “Social Justice” group FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together), a group that has pushed an agenda that often causes more injustice than justice. Such is the case of our local government working to “improve quality of life”, that actually causes austerity, not prosperity.  In these tumultuous times in which we live, in the calm before a coming major storm, it is a good time to understand what moral action really is.  How do we act morally? How do we achieve individual good and common good?  Are we on the right path or the wrong path?

These questions will be considered in a study on Morality as part of a “Social Justice” catechism series in St. Petersburg, conducted at the offices of Dr. David McKalip (431 Southwest BLVD, N, St. Petersburg FL -SW corner of 4th st. N and 62nd Ave N.).  The first in the two part study was a great success. People came from Longwood Florida (across the state), Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and even a visitor from Marietta Georgia joined in. The study on Morality will be similar. The “Growing Faith” series will be used as a guide along with printed paragraphs from the Catechism itself. The study will last about 2 hours (10-12) and lunch will be provided.  A small group discussion will occur along with prayer and reflection.  People will be empowered with knowledge and “The Armor of Light” to go forth to spread the word of GOD and morality further into the community. 

The basics of Morality as annunciated in the Catholic Catechism will be discussed this week on the Sun Beam Times blog in preparation for the study. This study has been motivated by what this blog is asserting are moral errors by the group FAST. For instance, the group advocates for a reading program that is costly and controversial for our public schools in Pinellas County, but the Board and committees REFUSE to even consider asking FAST members to tutor kids in trouble. This violates the concept of subsidiarity from the Social Justice catechism. To paraphrase, people should not expect larger bodies (e.g. the government) to do for society or individuals what smaller groups can and should do themselves (e.g. FAST!).  Thus, it is an immoral act to ask for the government to do something that FAST refuses to do itself. Furthermore, the program itself (direct instruction) violates the moral conscience and the dignity of individual teachers. The program requires all of them to follow a pre-determined script that is created by a remote planning body and not use their own training, skills and God-given talents to teach. This violates their individual dignity as professionals and also creates a disservice to students by depriving them of the good teachers who act as professionals, and not automatons. 

FAST thus violates several basic directives on morality from the Catholic Church. These include allowing the “ends to justify the means”. There can be no justification for violating subsidiarity and individual dignity of students, teachers and FAST members themselves. The catechism is clear on this:

1753 A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means*.  Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving).”  (emphasis added))

FAST has the intention of doing a good act (promoting reading) but they are engaging in a faulty means of getting there. 

  1. Refusing to tutor kids themselves (violates subsidiarity and directives for individaul charity to promte social justice).
  2. Insisting on a script for teachers (violates the individual dignity of teacher)
  3. Refusing to allow a democratic process, debate and transparency in reaching the decision to advocate for the program in the first place. (violates the requirements of good government laid out by the Catechism*).
  4. Taking in an involuntary way from church collection baskets to fund FAST without a true representative process and democratic means of policy formation. (violates the laws against theft laid out in Mosaic law and by God –  the 7th commandment “Thou shall not steal!”)

The Morality Catechism study is offered in good faith to a person of any denomination who wishes to attend.  FAST supporters are especially encouraged to attend to contribute to the discussion and to allow all to participate to learn from each other.  In the end, the goal is that all participants will discern what God wishes for each of us as individuals.

“1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”