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Letter to the Editor: The Catholic Church supports distribution of wealth

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It is clear that Merle Hexum is opposed to the proposition that there should be some measure of "wealth redistribution" in this country. He should have included the Catholic Church in his list of villains, as that body has been openly discussing and encouraging to varying degrees a fair global distribution of wealth since at least the late 1890s.

As my space is limited, I'll give just a few examples of that.

-In 1891, Pope Leo XIII said, "equity commands that public authority show proper concern for the worker so that from what he contributes for the common good he may receive what will enable him, housed, clothed, and secure, to live his life without hardship... all those measures ought to be favored which seem in any way capable of benefiting the conditions of the workers." This Pope also said the state has the absolute right to "step in" when the common good was threatened.

-In 1902, Pope Pius X spoke favorably about "efforts to improve the worker's living conditions, more equitable distribution of wages, and other justified advantages..."

-In 1931, Pope Pius XI said, "the riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be distributed among individual persons and classes that the common good of all society will be kept inviolate." In 1937, he said that "charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into constant account... The wage-earner is not to receive as alms what is his due in justice. And let no one attempt with trifling charitable donations to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice."

-In 1967, Pope Paul VI said, "private property does not constitute for anyone an absolute or unconditional right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need, when others lack necessities."

-Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Camara said the following sometime in the 1960s: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint; when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."

-In the late 1990s, Pope John Paul II talked about "the fair distribution of the goods originally destined for all."

-Finally, Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009, "abandoning mechanisms of wealth redistribution hinders the achievement of lasting development." In 2011, this not-so-liberal Pope talked about the need to raise awareness of "the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth."

-If the Catholic Church - not to mention other Christian denominations and other religious traditions - can discuss and promote (sometimes quite vigorously) wealth redistribution (which can take may different forms) without ever rejecting it in principle, than liberals and democrats and any others who want to should be able to do so as well without being vilified.

Those, like Merle, who are so extremely opposed to some wealth redistribution, need to realize that their adversaries on this issue are collectively bigger and more diverse than liberals and democrats in the United States.

John Minge

Perham, MN

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