I must read Douthat’s book.
As a Catholic, I largely share Douthat’s views and concerns. But he touches only glancingly on an issue that has sapped the moral authority of the Church for centuries. I completely agree with the following statement:“[Jesus] was a fierce critic of legalism and dead ritual, yes, but the moral law’s demands - especially everything related to money and sex - he generally made more absolute, not less.”Therein lies an issue that has long bothered me, many other Catholics, and countless non-Catholics: The Church has long displayed a near-maniacal concern with sexual morality, while virtually ignoring Christ’s teachings regarding personal (and, by extension, institutional) enrichment. As long as this imbalance exists, the Church’s global moral authority will remain limited.(Christ’s truly radical teachings about personal wealth emerge very clearly in David Bentley Hart’s recent translation of the New Testament from the original Greek.)
It is, however, worth noting that Catholic Charities actually distributes more than 90 percent of what it receives in contributions. They give irrespective of the recioient’s faith. And much of the Church’s wealth comes from just having been around so long. I would hardly want it to start divesting itself of art. Moreover, I doubt very much if I would appreciate advice from clerics as to how to handle my personal wealth, such as it is. I will have to look at Hart’s translation. Having read a good bit of the Gospels in Greek, I don’t recall Jesus being a proto-socialist. Also, economic puritanism can be, in its way, as prurient as the sexual variety.