Physician, Heal Thyself
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”
I have been rereading Reinhold Niebuhr, and I commend unto you a great little book of his entitled Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. As I get ready to lay a bit of “guilt” on certain Catholic institutions for anti-unionism, it seems appropriate to ward off self-righteousness with a couple of quotes from Niebuhr:
“Conscience, Goethe has observed, belongs to the observer rather than the doer, and it would be well for every preacher [and columnist] to realize that he is morally sensitive partly because he is observing and not acting.” Or this:
“It is not a good thing to convict sin only by implication. Sometimes the cruel word of censure must be uttered. ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’ was spoken by one who incarnated tenderness. The language of aspiration is always in danger of becoming soft; but it is possible to avoid that pitfall and yet not sink into a habit of cheap scolding.”
The National Conference of Catholic Charities has avoided both the pitfall and the habit by printing in the Spring 1984 issue of its periodical, Social Thought, an article entitled “Ethical Guidelines for a Religious Institution Confronted by a Union” by Ed Marciniak. The National Center for the Laity has now reprinted this article in handy pamphlet format and I commend it to all administrators of religious institutions, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, but especially those who are Catholic. Union members, actual or potential, should also read it.
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