Toward a More Christian Economy
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
By the time this appears in print, two statements on “Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy” will be in public circulation. One will be the first draft of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter, and the other, made public first, will be a statement of the Lay Commission on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, which is a creation of the American Catholic Committee, an organization of politically conservative Roman Catholics who were apparently nervous about the bishops’ pastoral.
The Lay Commission is co-chaired by William Simon, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and Michael Novak, a senior staff member of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, D.C. Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State, is a member. Of 32 members, 17 are corporate executives.
The following are excerpts adapted from the testimony of this writer before the commission at a hearing on September 17, 1984.
In the Book of Leviticus (19:13, 18), written at least a thousand years before Christ, we read: “You shall not oppress your neighbor…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Disagreement followed as to who was a neighbor, some maintaining that it included the stranger, the non-Jew, and others that it referred only to fellow Jews. Jesus settled this argument with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Even the despised foreigner must be regarded and treated as a neighbor, with love. And to make this obligation more binding Jesus raised it to the level of a commandment second only but similar to the first and greatest commandment, the love of God.
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