Embittered Catholic ‘Aristocrats’ on Food Stamps Turn Against America

By John Zmirak Published on May 21, 2018

Last time I wrote about the danger of Catholics falling into mindless tribalism. As I’ve warned before, too many Christians today reject America itself as a side-effect of “liberalism.” That’s the latest faddish intellectual caricature of the Anglo-American tradition. Before 1989, the Soviet hate-term for our system was “imperialism.” The Nazis called it “Judaeo-Masonic plutocracy.”

Today I’ll expand on precisely the type of pig in a poke young people are buying when they embrace “illiberalism” or “integralism” instead. My comments come from my experience, which is specifically Catholic. But similar problems exist among people of other traditions, alas.

For the brave new anti-American, “integralist” Catholic, the program is clear. We must abandon conservative politics. (See the Benedict Option.) That’s not because the Republican party has been too weak on social issues. Nor because neoconservative foreign policy has backfired. No, we must give up on conserving America because:

  • The free market violates Catholic social teaching. It doesn’t force employers to pay a “family wage” for every job, allowing dads to support a stay at home wife and large numbers of kids, in whatever career they please.
  • American freedom is unhinged from a firm grasp of the Common Good. By contrast, we want a “goal-oriented society” (such as ancient Sparta or Franco’s Spain) that uses police and prisons to impose a common vision.
  • It’s too hard to convince people to embrace and obey the natural law. Instead we should (somehow — insert miracle/fantasy/LARPing here) convince them to embrace a Catholic theocracy.
  • American pluralism is dangerous to the salvation of souls. It permits the preaching of false religions (i.e., Protestantism). So we want to give bishops the power to suppress false teaching using coercion. No, not liberal, sex-abuse-covering bishops like those we have now. Better, perfectly orthodox bishops, whom we’ll someday have in abundance because (insert miracle/fantasy/LARPing here).

Imposing Catholic Sharia

People who think this way are hungry for certitudes. They grab everything that a pope has said in the past and treat it as presumptively infallible. Almost as a piece of divine Revelation, equivalent to scripture. So they don’t see Catholic social teaching as Pope John Paul II did in Centesimus Annus. That is, as a general set of natural law principles which laymen must discern how to best apply. Instead, they seize on it as dogma. And then they try to make of it a divinely revealed political program. You know, the way Muslims draw all civil law (sharia) from the Quran and successive hadiths.

Here’s the content of that program: A comprehensive, anti-capitalist “third way.” It mandates:

  • A generous welfare state. That’s to provide every resident with the long list of things which popes have ever opined that they have a “right” to. (Pope Francis has almost doubled this list.) Without, you know, bothering about private charity, subsidiarity, or the corrosive effects of government dependency.
  • A high minimum wage for married men. (To support large families.) Lower wages for everyone else.
  • Subsidies and protection for small business. Severe restrictions on large companies, chains, and franchises.
  • Porous or open borders. That’s so we can import more Catholics into the United States.
  • Extensive subsidies to arts and culture. That will create jobs for liberal arts majors like … well, like every single person who thinks this way.

Young College Grads Turning Against America

In a widely cited article, I summed up this new movement with the title “Illiberal Catholicism.” The title seemed to please people. Many started to use it to describe themselves. That shocked me at the time. Now nothing does.

I’ve seen the growth of this worldview in the most intense, even inbred Catholic circles. I mean at small, orthodox Catholic colleges. I taught at one for five years. I’ve met many graduates of each of the others. And I tracked the progress of these schools for Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s college guide. (I edited that for 10 years.) Among doctrinally faithful priests and laity, the graduates of these schools appear to be “elites.” They’re trusted cadres of well-formed young Catholic thinkers. They will someday champion the Church’s restoration to influence in a stable, prosperous country. Or so we used to think.

Ugly trends have emerged at such schools. I’ve heard my former students renounce American patriotism. They say that as Catholics they cannot be loyal to a regime that does not recognize “Christ the King.” At one Catholic college, students were led by the faculty and staff in bashing a pig-shaped piñata. It was clearly labeled “Americanism.”

The president of the same college has his own theories about our country. In an academic discussion I witnessed, he dismissed the success of the American experiment. How? As the result of “freemasonry and diabolical intervention.” The dean, on another occasion, dismissed the possibility of moral reform in America by democratic, non-violent means. Instead it would require a forcible coup d’état. Thus “men of virtue” would impose their will “on the people. They will fall in line when they see that they have no choice.” This same dean had once criticized Franco’s regime in Spain — as too morally lax. (It allowed foreign tourists to wear bathing suits on Spain’s beaches.)

Trained to Be Aristocrats, They End Up as Leftists

Many orthodox Catholics who emerge with degrees from more “mainstream” schools are also turning bitter, unpatriotic, and statist. Many resent the market economy because of the shrinking job prospects for liberal arts graduates. They respond by condemning the market itself. They do it by mashing together arguments from Classical philosophers with the latest leftist agitprop. Hence the “Tradinista” movement we critiqued here in 2016.

I’ve heard my former students renounce American patriotism. They say that as Catholics they cannot be loyal to a regime that does not recognize “Christ the King.” At one Catholic college, students were led by the faculty and staff in bashing a pig-shaped piñata. It was clearly labeled “Americanism.”

Mostly from lower middle or working class backgrounds (like mine), these graduates got liberal arts educations. (That’s an education designed, as Newman wrote, for “gentlemen of inherited means.”) There many learned to despise ordinary business and regular employment. (These are “servile” professions, unworthy of their advanced educations.) They disdain to enter the productive economy. They will only work in cultural positions such as teaching or writing. But these do not pay very well.

A big problem here. These students also learned that early marriage and large families are virtuous. So many of these graduates emerge with the average of $37,000 in student debt. They marry other grads with similar debt loads, liberal arts degrees and aristocratic expectations. Then they proceed to have lots of little aristocrats.PIG Cover

Princes, Dukes, and Welfare Queens

And they end up on welfare. As I noted in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism, I have lost count of how many Catholic writers, bloggers, and other public personalities have admitted in writing that they rely on food stamps, Medicaid, or other government giveways. Most famous is one-time columnist for the National Catholic Register Simcha Fisher. (She’s the proud mother of ten, and author of a guide to Natural Family Planning.) She boasted in a column of “The Day I Bought Steak with My Food Stamps.” Promoting the piece on Facebook, she quipped: “I especially liked that gravy we made out of the blood of hard-working Americans. That was delicious.” That column was shared or liked more than 250,000 times. Fisher is just one of many such public dependents who work at low-paying but gratifying jobs in Catholic apostolates or the arts. How do they defend their status as “takers” from poverty programs?

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The Pope as a Crutch for Using Your Food Stamps at Whole Foods

By claiming that they have the right to be “open to life.” Some also cite Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. There that pope said that laborers had a right to a “just wage” that supported their families. Of course, that good pope was referring to unskilled factory workers who could find no other employment. Men who lived “frugally” in grim conditions. Not college-educated couples who disdained higher paying work in favor of jobs that were more prestigious and fun.

And so such people drift to the left, even the far left, on economics. Money talks.

The Catholic college president dismissed America’s success as the result of “freemasonry and diabolical intervention.”

They defend reckless and irresponsible lifestyles with high-minded arguments. They love to cite Christopher Dawson’s (in)famous essay “Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind.” It condemns any form of personal financial planning as un-Christian. I’ve heard 20-year-old students quote it to justify rash intentions. Such as marrying and bear children immediately after graduation. So what if they’re jointly $74,000 in debt? And looking at living on a single income of $23,000? So what if the Church’s advice over centuries to people in such straits was to delay marriage until they could afford to support their own children?

Point any of this out, and you betray a “contraceptive mentality.” Support any cuts to lavish social programs? You’re “anti-life,” virtually goading poor people to have abortions.

Funding Your Graduate Education with Poverty Programs

Such arguments are intellectually feeble but emotionally rousing. I’ve seen them wielded in defense of the outright abuse of poverty programs to subsidize graduate liberal arts education. A professor at a “faithfully Catholic” college admitted to me that many of his grad students were on food stamps. Of course I objected. He called this abuse of a poverty program a fair response to “inadequate government spending on the liberal arts.” In fact, grad students competing with the truly needy for limited poverty programs such as food stamps — instead of say, waiting tables, or finding some other paying work, as I did in grad school — is nothing more than stealing from the poor, one of the sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance.

Indeed, a kind of vengeance on a world that won’t bend to their wills seems to be what many of these illiberal America-bashers are finally interested in.

Our young people deserve to be exposed to better ideas than these. They face unprecedented challenges in making their way in this world. For older Catholics with cranky, bigoted worldviews to exploit their disaffection and turn them into ideologues is cynical and cruel. In my next piece I’ll look at ways that Catholics can fix the broken model of liberal arts education that currently leaves young graduates poorly prepared for parenthood and responsible citizenship.


John Zmirak is a Senior Editor at The Stream, and an author of the just-published Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. It is now available from Regnery at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and at bookstores far and wide.

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  • James

    So what should you do if you are a combined $74,000 in debt (that is not dischargable in bankruptcy) on a $23,000 per year income while called to be open to life? By the time the debt is paid down, you will be long past your fertile years.

    The secular world says that delayed marriage, contraception, and abortion are the answer. Is that your solution?

    • Lisa

      This is shameful! Grad students can lower themselves by working part-time jobs to help pay for their education so they don’t graduate college with so much debt. And after college, what is stopping them from working a side job until the debt is paid down? Catholics might not know of Dave Ramsey, a Protestant financial advisor on the radio with a lot of wisdom and a big following. He’s all about telling people not to buy what they can’t afford. There really is something to the “Protestant work ethic.” Maybe Catholics need that.

      I’ll never forget my Catholic high school geography teacher who supplemented his paltry pay with a cooking job at a local restaurant. That man would never take handouts.

      • ARB

        Gonna be frank here: grad school generally takes up so much of your life that it’s literally impossible to succeed at it while working a reasonable paying job. In math it’s a bit better, since we usually get teaching assistantships, but mine only rakes in about $20,000 per year for what is effectively full-time employment with a required hobby that demands all your free time for no pay. Heck, I’ve been working 15 hours per day lately for that $20k.

        That said, you won’t hear me whining that my daily bread isn’t sufficient for being “open to life”. Most of my fellow grad students are starting families even now, so it’s hardly preventing *them* from being ” open to life.”

        • Andrew Mason

          If you get a full time job over the summer holidays you can pay off much of your debt. My post-grad fees were far lower than the figure Zmirak mentions but I was easily able to pay for it thanks to saving everything I received, and have ‘plenty’ left in the bank. Of course if you insist on an Oxford or Harvard degree then your costs will rise.

      • Nathan DeParis

        I’m going to agree with ARB I am working on my Masters in Systems Engineering and especially if you want to take away anything from it at all to apply at work it really takes up all your time if you work full time. You can mitigate that by in your undergrad do a fifth year when your just in school but your still in that case taking on more debt. So if you go the usual route you make sure your company can pay so you don’t have to.

        Also there are somethings Ramsey is good with but I honestly stopped listening to him because his message is really “Don’t spend Money…period.” and if your in a DINK(dual income no kids) situation that’s leaps bounds and fathoms easier to follow than when your hauling a family of 4 kids and two adults around. I feel YNAB you need a budget scales to more situations than Ramsey’s way does.

      • James

        Ramsey is yet another Prosperity Gospel salesman. He has some good advice, but dubious theology.

        As for the part time job, given the current prices of tuition, there are literally not enough hours in the day for someone to work their way through college as was common in the past. Do the math.

      • Chris Whittle

        Dave Ramsey is the best person in his field on financial advice. Catholics will shun him and his daughter (Mrs. Rachel Cruze) because they’re Protestant, but there’s no prominent Catholic capitalist (except trad. Brian McCall) that espouses Biblical financial values.

    • Zmirak

      As I’ll lay out next time, I think the answer is to attend whatever college you can graduate from debt-free. We should be teaching/learning the liberal arts in high school.

      • DamianD

        And until that occurs? (Until the liberal arts are properly taught in High School, that is. You did, after all, spend much of this article lambasting those who insist on living in a hypothetical future which may never come to be)

        • Zmirak

          Teach your kids the liberal arts through a home-school and send them to state university on in-state tuition, if possible living at home. But that’s for the next column.

          • DamianD

            Yes I agree, that is a good approach. And that is advice can be given without, as you did in this column, denigrating those who ought not be denigrated.

          • Zmirak

            You are willfully ignoring a key fact I pointed out: That the people I criticize are those who insist on PURSUING low-income careers because they prefer them. Not those willing to take any work that WOULD support their families without taking from taxpayers.

          • DamianD

            St. Joseph could have been royalty in Israel. Instead, he chose to be poor, because he knew that was God’s Will for him — even though there were doubtless many Zmiraks then who lambasted him for it

            If people are doing honest work, full time, contributing to society, in how they sincerely believe God is calling them to contribute, and they are giving their families a dignified living and giving their children a good Christian education, and obeying all the laws of the state, then it is patently absurd to complain about that situation

          • DamianD

            Also in response, in case this got lost in the mix, my earlier comment:

            So who exactly *do* you want to be occupying these positions in education, or in the Church?

          • James

            I know one intelligent and devout young woman who is pursuing a liberal arts education at a top Catholic school for whom price is not an issue with the hopes of going into ministry.

            I do not know what her financial aid situation is, but I am pretty sure she will graduate debt-free because her father is a heart surgeon.

            It is not a bad thing for the children of heart surgeons to use their advantages in life to live like gentlemen (and ladies) of inherited means. It is when the rest of us teach our children to do so on borrowed money that we do a disservice to them.

          • James

            In case you have forgotten, St. Joseph only raised one son (at least according to the Western tradition.)

          • Bryan

            And if he claimed the perks of that royal heritage, he would likely have been executed by Herod. Technically Mary was of David’s line as well. But somehow, I don’t think they chose to be poor. They, like many others, worked hard to provide for their family. They didn’t rely on a welfare system to take care of their family for them. And that is the point of the article. If you’re doing everything you can to get by and pay off the debt that your accrued and it’s still not enough, then yes, you need the help that charity or welfare can provide. But that’s not who is addressed in this article. The ones addressed are the ones who are pursuing work that they know will not cover the debt they acquired and are not doing anything about it. That is sloth, I believe. And if they drag their family into that, it makes it worse. If God’s calling you to a ministry or other calling, then He may not be calling you to college. He may have another way for you to get where He wants you without shackling yourself to debt. So even if you’re doing what God’s called you to, if you’re not following the way He has for you to get there, you’re not off the hook for the debt you acquired while going the roundabout way to God’s calling.

          • DamianD

            Jesus was and is God. Everything He did — or allowed the Holy Family to do — was by choice; including their poverty.

          • Bryan

            Yes but the point is they worked, and worked hard (Ever tried being a carpenter? It’s not a cakewalk.), and they made their way, probably with help from family and friends, but not by handouts and taking on needless debt that they refused to pay back. That’s the difference. The ones that Mr. Zmirak condemns are the ones who could provide for themselves but instead assume a false posture of piety and live off of everyone else.

      • Mark

        Good point. We should learn that in high school. As for staying out of debt, my 18 yo son is going to a local community college for his general education requirements (1/3 the cost per credit hour compared to the state university and finish his business degree (last two years) at our local state university. It ends up being about the same cost per year as our other three children still in their parochial school. He will live at home, work and graduate debt-free.

      • James

        I agree completely about attending college debt free. That’s what I did.

        I think it is a shame that some well-intentioned believers want their children to run up huge debts at private schools because they are more “Christian” when the local state university will serve their needs perfectly well.

    • Bryan

      What about getting married and working together on debt? To avoid contraception, you can use the natural family planning method and avoid kids for a few years. If both are bringing in $23k/year but also not living above their means (small house or apartment, sack lunches, perhaps sharing a vehicle, etc.), they can work down their debt and be better able to provide when their family does begin. They may not be completely out of debt but they can make a significant dent in it.

      • DamianD

        Neither debt nor low income are valid reasons to avoid conception with NFP. The Magisterium has already made this abundantly clear. See CCC 2368, Casti Connubi 53, Pius XII address to Midwives, Humanae vitae 16, and others.

        • Zmirak

          That’s absurd. “Responsible parenthood” entails being able to support and offer a Christian education to children.

          • DamianD

            Yes, which homeschooling can do just fine — even with both debt and a low income.

          • Great so you found a way to support and educate your family on a low income despite your debt. Zmirak doesn’t appear to have any problem with that unless you (1) have to rely on welfare to supplement your income, and (2) choose to remain in your low paying job, not out of necessity, but because you insist on doing something you find more noble, interesting, or fun. While I would have loved to use my University of Chicago Masters of Divinity to teach theology at a Catholic high school, when it became clear that God was calling me to marriage, I went into the insurance industry instead. Utterly boring, yet sufficient to pay my loans and support a family welfare-free.

          • DamianD

            So God’s Will for you must also be God’s Will for every other Catholic?

          • Has nothing to do with God’s will. One is a prudent course of action, the other is irresponsible.

          • DamianD

            *Everything* has *everything* to do with God’s Will; and rejecting that is what always deserves the heartiest criticism. It seems you truly have no understanding; perhaps due to your own bitterness in working a job you hate — such bitterness is the trademark of those who are not following God’s Will for their lives.

          • Wow. Three months later? This really pricked your conscience. You misunderstand completely. While I don’t particularly care for the work I do, I take great satisfaction in knowing that I can provide for my family without depending on handouts–something those who value workplace fulfillment over providing for their children will never experience. Insisting that others support your family so that you can pursue “work that’s fulfilling” is about as alien a thing to God’s will as I can possibly imagine.

        • Bryan

          Damian, I’m not Catholic so I’m not going to pretend to know or understand every facet of this argument. However, I was responding to the question that James posed which pointed out what the world’s current philosophy is regarding marriage, kids, etc. Since abortion is definitely out and contraception is generally out, what is the other choice for those who have racked up the large debt loads from college? Delaying marriage is one choice but I don’t think that’s the best choice necessarily. Two incomes are better than one in most cases and that can help establish a young couple in order to have a foundation for their future family. However, entering into parenthood can make that significantly more difficult.
          But even this is beyond the point of the article. The point here, as Mr. Zmirak describes in the article and has consistently stated numerous times in the comments below, is that some couples are acquiring large debts and choosing not to work in a profession that will help them pay off those debts and are, rather, taking advantage of government programs designed to be a safety net for those who cannot help themselves. Do we need people in the church? Of course. Do we need 26 year old MA grads who have almost no experience outside of academia to fill those positions in the church? No. Could they? Sure. But isn’t it possible for these MA grads to take positions that can help them pay off some (not necessarily all) of their debt while they gain experience so that when they decide to work in the church, they have the education and experience to actually lead those who are following them?
          You said debt is not a valid reason to avoid conception. I understand and agree with that to a point. I did not abort my children (even the thought makes me queasy) even though their timing was not as convenient as I had planned in my mind. However, I also made more persistent efforts to obtain a better position in my field that payed more so that my wife could stay home. This didn’t work out as well as I hoped and when the second child came, my wife had to work when she was only several weeks old. We’ve worked through that and though my income has increased and we are now able for her to homeschool both children, she is still working part time to help us make it through. And this is because we have student loans that we are still paying off. If we didn’t have those, she could stay home no problem. (By the way, homeschooling is great, but it is not free like public school, nor is it cheap. We just bough most of our curriculum for next school year and spent several hundred dollars even while buying many items second hand. When you add in the price for co-ops, extracurricular activities, etc., it adds up very quickly.)
          Now having explained this, even though I like what I do, if I could have figured out a way to make it work, I think I would have preferred a career in performing music and/or in some sort of craftsman type of manual labor. So I looked at it as this: I can pursue my dreams now and likely make my wife’s life harder because there would never be enough to cover everything, or I can work hard, potentially turn those into hobbies into a side hustle, and maybe, eventually, they become a second career later. I believe I have a duty to provide for my wife and children that’s above my desire to follow my passions.

        • Bryan

          I responded to this at length. That’s the only reason I can figure it was flagged as spam.

      • James

        NFP has a low user-effectiveness rate. Most couples I know who use it end up pregnant within two years, unless there is an infertility problem.

        For young people, being asked to live Catholic values in American culture feels like they are being asked to make bricks without straw. This is what is driving a lot of the reactionary attitudes against capitalism and (classical) liberalism that Zmirak has written about.

        • Bryan

          While it would be nice to be completely debt free when kids come along, unless you’re willing to chance not getting a college education or at least delaying it, many young people will probably have some debt and kids at the same time. The point is to go into it with eyes wide open instead of willfully ignoring the fact that debt sucks and it should be avoided as much as possible. Something that many institutions of higher learning hope you don’t recognize when you sign up for the loan to their overpriced service. (Facepalm to myself for falling for this.) The emphasis of this article is that if you’re going to go to school and acquire a large debt and choose a profession (or no profession) that you know will not help you pay off that debt so you’ll just live on food stamps and other welfare programs that are meant to be a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves, this doesn’t make you more devout or something like that. It makes you a thief because you’ve stolen money that you can’t pay back and you’re taking welfare from those who need it because you choose not to provide adequately for yourself.
          This isn’t to say that everyone who gets a secondary or post-secondary education is intrinsically evil for doing so. It just means that you can’t claim that God wants you on welfare because you’ve chosen not to hustle to pay off your debts.
          The capitalistic system generally works. Why else would people try to emulate it or come to the US to enjoy it? Even the Chinese have adopted some elements of capitalism because it’s more profitable for them. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. There are still issues of greed and envy, etc. that must be dealt with. However, those answers are not found principally in capitalism; they are found in morals. Capitalism works when it is in close proximity with high moral character. So if we fix the moral character issues, the corporate greed, living wage, etc issues would dwindle or disappear.

          • James

            Capitalism is getting a bad name because of the decadence of modern American Capitalism. Defenders of capitalism tend to defend the ideology of capitalism while ignoring its excesses in practice. At the extreme, people have made capitalism into a system of morality (thanks, Ayn Rand) which it is not.

            In the case of colleges, students are not being charged exorbitant tuition dollars to give them a better education. They are being charged to provide for luxury dorms, resort-like “student life” centers, and world class athletics. Just because people are willing to pay for it doesn’t make it right, good for society, or good for the student. This is lost in an ideology that believes that the market is the measure of all things.

            On the academic side, “administrators” who go to meetings get fat comfortable paychecks, while the graduate assistants, lecturers, and adjunct faculty get paid a pittance. (This is also academics aren’t really socialists, despite left-leaning politics. It’s all for show.)

          • Bryan

            The luxury dorms, athletics, “administrators” are not the only reasons the tuition is increasing. It’s partly because people are willing to pay for it as well. But why are they willing? Because we’ve blindly agreed that one “must” have a college education to be able to do just about anything. Both my inlaws are capable of running departments in their fields. My mother-in-law could be a VP in her field. She has the experience but does not have the degree and it’s not worth it at this point for her. But she’s been turned down or overlooked because of that fact. On the positive side, I think this ideology about a college degree is beginning to turn around, but very slowly at this point.
            To answer your question, moral character is the key in my opinion. Like one of our Founding Fathers said, our system of government can only work with a moral populace. This warning applies to our economic system as well.

          • James

            “It makes you a thief because you’ve stolen money that you can’t pay back and you’re taking welfare from those who need it because you choose not to provide adequately for yourself.”

            If you are stealing from a usurer, you both are in pari delicto. (Yes, usury is still a sin, even though lending money at interest is permitted.) Frequently people who default on loans have more than paid back enough to satisfy the principle, but the interest is what is keeping them in debt.

            Knowing how lenders operate, I have ZERO sympathy for them. Private student lenders even successfully lobbied Congress for SPECIAL (not fair, special) treatment in the Bankruptcy Code. This is not capitalism, but crony capitalism.

  • fiveHats

    don’t get a liberal arts degree if you cannot live off the wage, and the professor needs to know that America is not going to subsidize his liberal fantasy in the future. Liberals Arts belongs in the hobby section of life. People need to get real.

  • Andrew Mason

    As Western nations increasingly deviate from Christian values those most inclined to cherish, protect, and serve their nations will cease doing so. After all why should they love their country when the ruling liberal elite identify them as enemies of the people? That isn’t to say they won’t continue to serve God, but it will be with the awareness that they live in enemy territory. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, but it will entail a massive shift in world view. Of course that’s a far cry from attempting to bleed the system and working towards a Catholic version of Sharia Law.

  • american

    Work for a living, establish yourself, then get married and have kids. I am a proud drop out. I dropped out to work.

  • daisy

    I have a cousin who just paid off his student loans. If he’d waited until then to marry and have children he’d be 50 years old and just starting out. As for the genteel poverty welfare folks I’ve only come across one such person. This must be a New York thing.

    • Paying off student debt entirely was never stipulated as a prerequisite. Instead, it was that a man be able to provide without relying on welfare — and be willing to undertake less glamorous or interesting work to do so — prior to marrying or having kids. Very prudent advice.

  • Sarah Pierzchala

    Sadly, I cannot count how many times I’ve witnessed this scenario in real life…

    • Ol Buck

      Because it’s… zero.

  • Brian Walsh

    So the author proposes a good Catholic shouldn’t get married and have children or that it’s better for kids to be in daycare then home with their mother. That is unless they can afford it?


    • Zmirak

      No I propose that kids not get that deep in debt in college. And if Catholic colleges are digging the hole, they’re part of the problem, not the solution.

      • DamianD

        You wrote ” I’ve heard 20-year-old students quote it to justify rash intentions. Such as marrying and bear children immediately after graduation. So what if they’re jointly $74,000 in debt? And looking at living on a single income of $23,000? ”

        This quote does not merely propose avoiding debt; this quote, rather, clearly denigrates good Catholics with debt and low income nevertheless getting married and having children.

        • Zmirak

          Actually it’s a good reason to postpone marriage. That’s exactly what the Church told people for centuries–the man should establish himself first. It’s how the Irish recovered from the Potato Famine, on the Church’s advice.

          • DamianD

            Where? What Magisterial Document? Under your definition of “establishing oneself,” it is doubtful any of us would exist if our ancestors towed that line.

          • Zmirak

            It was Aquinas who said that material support and Christian education were what parents owed a child. As for the criteria for using NFP, Google “The Myth of the Contraceptive Mentality.”

          • DamianD

            Fr Erlenbush was refuted long ago on that point. See the work of an actual theologian on it, Fr. Mullady, on the contraceptive intention of abusing NFP.

          • DamianD

            The people you denigrate in this post do provide both material support and Christian education to their children.

          • DamianD

            P.S. Aquinas is not “the Church.” You said that “the Church told people for centuries” that a man should first establish himself (whatever that means). This was taught by the Church for centuries and you do not have a single actual Magisterial quote to show for it?

          • James

            It is also the advice the Church is currently giving in the Philippines.

          • I agree with that, for sure.

        • Zmirak

          And you’re skipping a key point: That these students WON’T look at normal professions that do pay better and offer benefits. They insist on working in the arts, education, or for the Church. That’s the fault of their teachers.

          • DamianD

            So who exactly *do* you want to be occupying these positions in education, or in the Church?

          • ArthurMcGowan

            The Church needs almost none of the paid “workers” it employs. Ninety percent of the political donations made by employees at Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, etc., go to pro-abortion politicians. Ninety percent of the funding for Catholic Charities, etc., comes from the federal government. Some dioceses are as bad as the USCCB in this regard, and some aren’t.

        • James

          People have turned the theology of the redemptive value of suffering into a fetishization of suffering. This is bad theology that turns God into a sadist.

          Life in a fallen world involves suffering, but suffering is not the purpose of God’s Will. The purpose of God’s Will is human flourishing. Not material prosperity as the Prosperity Gospel advocates claim, but something deeper and more profound. Something that you would be willing to suffer and sacrifice for.

          God wants you to make good decisions for your life. This is the virtue of prudence. Freedom in Christ means that we are free to make many different choices for our life, with only a few things that are off-limits. There is no one way to be a Christian.

          Jesus mocked the hypocrites for playing up their suffering while fasting, saying “they have their reward”. If you play up how miserable and poor you are because you have chosen to follow God, then, well, you have your reward.

          • DamianD

            I agree with this comment.

  • DamianD

    Good points here, but an overall sloppily structured argument. Why not argue against incurring student debt (a good argument), without denigrating the (very good) choice young graduates make to nevertheless get married and have children if God calls them to that despite their debt? The past cannot be changed.

    Also, calling Food Stamps welfare is fair enough, but calling Medicaid welfare is a major stretch. Is poverty — the state Our Lord chose to live in — somehow sinful? Well, patriotism — here rightly lauded by Zmirak — says obey the law, and our law now says that everyone must have a Health Care Insurance Plan. What if I work an honest living by the sweat of my brow, supporting my family, paying the bills, paying for the food on the table for my kids, but nevertheless when I enter my financial information — as I am required to do by law — into the State Of Health Marketplace, I am given a free health plan which happens to be funded through Medicaid? This is precisely the situation we have today. One is not allowed to not have a Health Care Plan, and the only health care plan one is often capable of having happens to be medicaid.

    I am also curious to see where exactly Leo XIII said his Social Magisterium only applied to poor factory workers…

    All in all, this post comes off as another revolt against Social Magisterium written by one who has read little of it.

    • James

      Meanwhile in Rome, the Vatican strongly supports universal healthcare, has for some time, and doesn’t understand why the United States doesn’t have it. Universal healthcare is only controversial in the United States. It is not controversial in the slightest for the universal Church.

      Even Friedrich Hayek acknowledged that the economics of health care were such that a publicly funded social insurance system made sense.

  • Lowell Parlow

    You lost me on the 2nd sentence. Catholics are not Christians, they are Catholics. Catholics belive the Pope to be God on this earth. Christians believe there is only 1 God, in 3 persons, The Father, The Son who is Jesus and the Holt Spirit. This does not include the Pope.

    • The_Bustle_in_Your_Hedgerow

      Oh, brother.

    • ArthurMcGowan

      You will not make any converts by spouting preposterous lies that every Catholic over the age of seven knows is slander.

    • James

      That statement is so ignorant, it’s not even wrong.

  • Laramie Stewart

    Eegads, another article where Zorak smears Catholics to show perspective employers how reasonable he is.

  • Craig Roberts

    Education, entertainment, and exercise are all American idols.

    • Hoyos

      If the last one was true wouldn’t we all be skinnier? I kid, I kid.

  • Ed

    A palpable hit. I’ve been reading Trollope lately and a constantly recurring theme of his books and those of other Victorians is a young man’s need to “establish himself” before he can marry. I was late catching on myself (I did an English Lit. degree at a third-rate university) but I eventually worked it out and that made marriage and children possible for me.

    Another thing you’ll note from Trollope is that the aspiring young men need to convince the girls’ fathers to let them marry, rather than just asking the girls themselves. The fathers tend to have pretty down-to-earth requirements regarding careers etc. I’m sure we traddy Catholics are all dead set on the restoration of the patriarchy and the authority of fathers, so presumably we all accept that fathers would be well within their rights to make such stipulations?

  • Hoyos

    Mr. Zmirak,

    You’re right. Someone told conservatives 15 years ago to study liberal arts, not kidding, it was a popular push at least partly motivated by a desire to “take back” academia. Academia didn’t want to be taken back as it happens and undergrad and grad programs churn out loads of would be academics who are persona non grata. As a conservative especially, many find they are “not a good fit”.

    Someone said you can make enough money at a summer job, part time, etc.; they don’t know what the economy is generally like. If you can make $13k a summer at 18, I’m all ears to see where these jobs are.

    For every one who “makes it” there are dozens scrabbling to survive, it’s like the hip hop and basketball of the nerd community.

    It’s not the 50s anymore where state college costs what community college costs now and the average home price was the average yearly wage, or a parking attendant in New York is paid enough to live independently (less paid enough and more cheap cost of living).

    • I remember attending a party at about the midpoint of my Masters programs. In that room were many would-be conservative scholars, once eager and cheerful, but now decidedly glum. We had finally realized that we were nothing more than the university’s cash cow, and that our considerable debts would never be absolved by the prestigious professorships we had all dreamed of. Only so many people can teach others to teach what they were taught. Of the 60 or so who started I know of only two who now hold serious academic positions. “It’s like the hip hop and basketball of the nerd community.” That’s it exactly.

      • James

        When you use kids as pawns in an ideological battle, eventually, they figure out that they are being used and they don’t appreciate it.

        My wife was raised in a conservative Evangelical community. Burnout is pretty common among her peer group.

        • American Evangelicals in academics invariably go one of two ways: either a conversion to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, or a conversion to liberal Protestantism. The former depends largely on how anti-Catholic their stripe of Evangelicalism was, and latter how desperate they are to be liked by the cool kids. American Evangelicalism just does not have an intellectual tradition sufficient to sustain any serious engagement with secular higher education.

          • James

            I agree that American Evangelicalism just does not have an intellectual tradition sufficient to sustain any serious engagement with secular higher education, but I do not share your cynicism that those who convert to liberal Protestantism merely want to be liked by the cool kids.

            Those who want a more intellectual Evangelicalism become conservative (PCA) Presbyterians. But there are not many of these.

            Those who like theological geekdom, cosplay, and baklava become Orthodox.

            Anglophiles become Anglican/Episcopalian.

            Those who are somewhat burned out become liberal Protestants. Those who are totally burned out become secular.

            Catholics tend to get people who are really into “life issues”, when they find out how shallow Evangelical teachings on these issues are. There are some theology geeks and cosplayers, but they inevitably end up disappointed with the usual American Catholic practices and will either become Orthodox or be very picky about choosing a parish that meets these needs.

          • The Catholics you speak of become Trads — FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, and the like. Under Francis most novus ordo parishes are increasingly the ideological equivalents of their fellow apostates in mainline Protestantism. Meanwhile those more focused on “life issues” (the JP2 crowd) are again, under Francis, finding that, the once firm foundation of the “hermeneutic of continuity”, is perhaps less stable than they thought, as Francis appears to be more and more the authentic fruit of Vatican 2, one that exposes JP2 as either (1) an aberrant throwback, or (2) — and potentially worse for those who would like to crown him JP the Great — the one who, with his scandalous ecumenical escapades, dubious theology of the body, and catastrophic refusal to discipline the scores of heretical wolves that ravaged his flock, slowly but surely laid the foundation for a character like Francis to emerge. And in a nutshell this is why parishes that offer the traditional sacraments, which are universally concomitant with traditional morality and theology, are packed with Evangelical converts, myself among them.

          • James

            If you can’t trust the Pope, you might as well be Protestant.

            Some converts geek out on a small number of pet issues and miss the bigger picture. This is normal in the Evanglical world, but very odd to most cradle Catholics.

          • I trust the Holy Ghost to preserve the pope from formally defining any error. As regards everything else he says or teaches I receive it with submission save when it appears to fun afoul of Scripture or Tradition. Then I ask questions, request clarification, and resist when necessary. The papacy was instituted guard and profess the deposit of faith, not alter or add to it.

            As for your second point, I’m not really sure what you’re driving at.

          • Tom McKenna

            Anyone steeped in Church history knows better than to reflexively “trust the Pope” as if we should all be ultramontanes. The Pope is merely the custodian of Tradition, and serves it, not the other way around. When he departs from it, sorry, he’s not to be trusted to that extent.

          • Hoyos

            You’re more right than maybe you know. I have met these people, Calvinism is pretty hard nosed intellectually and Anglicanism is a way to keep evangelical faith and get connected to church history.

            Honestly, if I had my way, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, Christians would get evangelized by protestants, pick up the Biblical literacy bug there, then get educated by Catholics (from 1913).

  • Michael Dowd

    Getting my daily dose of Catholics behaving badly I found ‘Embittered Catholic ‘Aristocrats’ on Food Stamps Turn Against America’ another appalling testament to a Church gone haywire.

    Most of my grand kids don’t go to college which I’m happy about. Much better to go immediately into the workforce and learn what life is all about. The kids you address sound like spoiled brats. Their parents and particularly the Catholic College they attend are mostly to blame. What we seem to have here is the Catholic version of Cultural Marxism (political correctness, egalitarianism, identity politics).

    I didn’t get this statement you made, John. “For older Catholics with cranky, bigoted worldviews to exploit their
    disaffection and turn them into ideologues is cynical and cruel.” It sounded to me like bigoted, benighted and misguided young people are the ones doing the exploiting. No one in their right mind should contribute money to the colleges in question.

    I blame Vatican II for all this nuttiness. Vatican II was a catastrophe for the Church and must be abrogated in it’s entirety.

  • Ineverleavecomments

    Zmirak- I couldn’t agree more with this article and your responses to some comments on it (this essay seems to have hit a nerve with people!) I too know many of the same types of ppl you describe (and despise them…probably far more than I should). As a millennial (born 1982-2002 and children of the Boomer generation 1944-1962 or however these groups are defined) I think I’m a little uppity and defensive about some things you bring up. As the saying goes, “No one can hurt you more than the people you love,” and in this case you are talking about your (and my) fellow Catholics who have hurt their fellow Catholic *Americans* in ways we will feel for generations (I’m referring to freeloading and casual socialism of course). These Catholics are making us all look bad in the eyes of our fellow Christians.

    So, I know folks who got married and used NFP until they finished school and had employment. They had kids eventually and paid off their loans (and are still friends with their spouses 🙂 ). I also know English and History majors who got married after graduation and were extremely lucky to receive help with CPA school tuition from their fathers-in-law. For every freeloader liberal arts major (and I presume Bernie supporter) you describe, I feel like I know one who managed to get married, earn income… and throw their 2016 vote away on Gary’s Johnson but thats a different topic (not all millennial are socialists. Some are screwball libertarians)…There’s a reason Neil Howe and William Strauss called the millennials the Hero generation.

    The term “tyranny of the magisterium” (I forget where this comes from or what it actually means) comes to mind when you describe Catholics who think papal teaching/catholic social teachings/etc somehow trump the virtue of prudence (what a deplorable Evangelical invention! Snark.) I feel like I’m not really adding anything new here to this discussion.

    So, here is something I think you should explore more, the psychological and social “why” behind what is going on with these Catholics: why do the Catholics described in this article feel like they cannot or should not behave like “normal” Americans or god forbid their Evangelical taxpaying neighbors…or take the advice of Dave Ramsey…or etc ? What’s up with that? I am a first generation American and feel extreme happiness every April 15 bc my family earns enough income to pay income taxes. It wasn’t always this way. That’s why they came here in the first place. (Its easy to forget how many ppl pay no income tax). This is not snarkiness here.

    I have two answers to my own question: real and imagined anti-Catholicism. I think The millennial Catholic freeloaders (my term for who you are describing) do not see themselves as Americans because of imagined anti-Catholicism (They do not want to participate in normal American civic virtues such as the “servile” work you deacribe bc they see themselves as Catholic victims of American anti-Catholicness). I think you should study this more bc I think the history of (both real and imagined) anti-Catholicism in the US is in your blind spot.

    My second answer has to do with something I think you may not have a lot of direct experience with given the fact that you’re from NYC, namely actual, real anti-Catholic bias that exists (I think you dismiss it too easily in some other essays and books). Many well intentioned Catholic parents took the cautious and measured advice of their Catholic homeschools and stayed away from Evangelical homeschool groups in the 1990’s. (I cannot honestly imagine this happening in 2018). Other Catholics have had genuinely bad experiences during their formative years with Protestants classmates and thus retreat into these destructive Catholic subcultures. Anyway, Catholic colleges mostly sold themselves to homeschoolers as “where your child will meet their spouse” and these same well intentioned parents spent a fortune on the (half-assed) Catholic colleges you described. And here we are today.

    The end.
    Gotta check the mailbox for your Immigration book!

    • Zmirak

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. I hope that it was clear my criticism was aimed at institutions and role models who encourage these bad behaviors–not the poorly-led young people who fall into them. I really loved teaching and wanted the best for my students. This is not the best. It approaches the worst.
      As for anti-Catholicism, I think it’s important here (as everywhere) to say “Compared to what?” Compared to the on-and-off persecution of Catholics in France since 1907? To the Spanish Republic? To Mexico? Or how about this: For any given instance of anti-Catholicism in America, check the date and see how Protestants were treated by Catholic governments in Mexico, Spain, the Papal States. (In the 1840s, when some Protestant bigots burned a few Catholic churches in the U.S., Protestant churches were illegal throughout Spain, Latin America, Papal States, etc.)
      I think such comparisons are very revealing. They might help dispel the air of artificial victimhood that our culture makes so attractive… but which is so debilitating to anyone who adopts it. An all purpose excuse for failure, sloth, fantasy.
      Thanks for taking my concerns seriously, and in the spirit in which I intended them.

      • James

        So many American Catholics are of Irish ancestry, which is one of the few groups of Catholics to be persecuted for centuries.

        The persecution complex predates the United States. It is not present among the growing population of Latino Catholics.

  • Fr. RP

    Many of these people have no business attending the University anyway, and that is based on what Newman said and the fact that many of them are not cut out for it. They end up swimming in debt and have a fairy tale idealization of life.

    • Yes, a big part of the problem is the bizarre belief that everyone should go to college, when arguably only about 5%-10% of the population is really cut out for it.But that’s not a Catholic problem.

      • Zmirak

        The specifically Catholic part of the problem is college-educated people cherry-picking our social teaching to justify careers in the arts or education, while having large families they raise at their taxpaying neighbors’ expense. I’ve seen this on an intergenerational level. There are people who grew up on welfare, as the children of educated Catholics, whose children just finished college and plan to live the same way, often after attending the same schools. And they all, not so mysteriously, end up anti-American leftists.

        • I see. Well that’s regrettable indeed. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it, either here or in Australia where I’m from. Since orthodox Catholics are so small in number, I find it hard to believe that this is a huge problem in terms of number.

  • When we debate our fellow Catholics on politics and philosophy – and assuming these Catholics to at least be attempting to live out Catholic teaching sincerely – we really ought to debate their *best* case versus our own best case, not their worst versus our best. There are serious problems with the American outlook, imo, and at least some of it comes down to the dodgy philosophy on which it was founded. Surely you can see that at least in some areas, classical liberalism just isn’t compatible with Catholicism. But even if you disagree with that, the classical liberal ideas about education are surely a part of the “aristocratic” ideas Americans have about their own educations and hence, unrealistic expectations about living standards. How many Americans today would agree with Newman on liberal education only for the independently wealthy? As it happens, my own view is that everyone ought to be prepared to work in a fairly basic job, if he can’t get anything better. I would rather see my sons in trade before they attempt anything at college, thus getting into debt. But at the same time, a good education is good for the soul – I’m thinking of a good education to at least high school level.

    But if people on basic wages can’t afford basic and decent housing (I mean something slightly bigger than a caravan, not a 10 bathroom McMansion) then has universal education really brought any benefit to society? Why do we complain then about the old-fashioned class system if things are no better now?

  • How much of this is really just the ridiculous line “you can be anything you want to be” and “just follow your dreams”?That’s not Catholicism, that’s worldly rubbish, based more on liberalism than anything else as far as I can tell.

  • Tom McKenna

    I understand the concerns expressed herein. However, while pointing out that the US is not incompatible with Catholic principles,as Leo XIII himself acknowledged, it is equally important to recognize that the ideal is *not* the democratic secular modern state, but a state (of whatever political system) which recognizes (implicitly or explicitly) the Kingship of Christ by appropriate public policy. Such a state is not “Catholic sharia.” It would, as in pre-enlightenment societies in the West, favor the Church and Her Divine teachings as providing the best outcome for realizing the Common Good and the end of both society and the individual. Such as state is not unimaginable in the modern world, see, Ireland before the Council, yes, Spain after the Revolution, and other examples. At the same time, Catholic teaching clearly does not suggest that we retreat from and condemn a society such as ours in the US which must embody tolerance and a certain legitimate pluralism in order to maintain public order. The proper order is: convert the populace to Catholicism, then enact appropriate public policy; *not* establish a confessional state then compel the majority to comply.

    • Zmirak

      I’m fine with the Irish Republic, which protected religious liberty for minority creeds. Or Austria-Hungary, a Catholic monarchy that did the same. In fact, that’s my ideal regime. I’m not so fine with Spain, which didn’t allow Protestant churches or media.

      • Tom McKenna

        I’m OK with either, but regardless, the point is there is legitimate room for reasonable divergence about how best to realize the traditional Catholic teaching on Church-State. The problem arises when, on one side, as you identify in your article, it’s insisted that only a Catholic monarchy suppressing all dissent is acceptable, and on the other hand, when it’s insisted, ala JC Murray, that American democracy is the one ideal model of the state. Both err, and there is much latitude given concrete circumstances.

        • Zmirak

          I’d agree, and I have a long track record of public praise for the Habsburg monarchy (for instance), and defense of the Church against REAL anti-Catholic smears. But I’m alarmed by the promotion of an extreme, illiberal position as the “real,” “hard-core” Catholic view.

  • Ol Buck

    Which do you love more John, America or Holy Mother Church?

    The two are not necessarily incompatible, but America is it is *right now* is incompatible with many teachings of the One True Church. Building a Culture of Life is about more than simply banning abortion. Protecting and preserving the family is about more than merely abrogating same-sex marriage and no-fault divorce.

    Sure, there are probably more than a handful of young people who have gone extreme in their bashing of America. And young people always have their heads in the clouds before reality hits them. That’s part and parcel of maturing. But there’s a reason that Americanism, not “the United States of America” as a country, but specifically Americanism, was declared a heresy. There were vile attacks by Catholics against their brethren for being insufficiently American. Scores of examples of bishops reducing immigrant-heavy parishes to second class. Many pastors and other members of the cloth declaring that what the Holy See says doesn’t matter.

    Heck, “Mater Si, Magistra No” did NOT come from secular leftists… but by the Buckley Club! Incidentally, that’s pretty astounding given the types of Catholics who write for National Review these days. (MBD, Lopez, etc)

    Young people will be young people. They will be extreme. But part of that has led them to help revive the Old Mass across the country and re-populate the pews with their young children. Including and especially that mom of 10.

    So I ask again John, where’s your contribution to Holy Mother Church and to whom is your allegiance? Her or America? It is fine to be a patriot and love your country. Venerable Fulton Sheen said that love of country is a form of piety. But love of GOD and His Church… and of your neighbor… must come first. Those are the two greatest commandments. The whole of the Law is found in them.

    If you had to choose, which would you choose?

    • Zmirak

      It depends on which of them were right in a given circumstance. If the “Church” (say, Pope Francis) were ordering Catholics to violate their duty as patriotic citizens, say by opening the borders, I’d side with my country. If my country were violating the rights of the Church, I’d side with the Church. Reason, as always, would be my guide–not blind loyalty.

      • Ol Buck

        I appreciate the reply, but in short.. it sounds to me like your loyalty to Holy Mother Church is subject to whether it aligns with your political devotion to the Republican Party. Whereas I would argue that your politics ought to be not just informed by *dictated* by the Faith. There is but one Truth and it does not belong to the Republican Party or Democratic Party, but to the Church.

        So, in short, I don’t want to see any more complaints from you about cafeteria Catholics like the Kennedys, Cuomos or Pelosis who sold themselves to the cult of Moloch and worship at the altar of the blood of the unborn. For you have merely chosen a different idol and have decided that devotion at the foot of the altars of avarice and “ethnic purity” come first.

        And, incidentally, I find the whole “millennial Catholics won’t get their hands dirty in a real job and only want to write” bit incredibly amusing. I shall look forward to bringing my vehicle that is in need of repair to the auto body shop that you will surely open shortly after abandoning your career in *checks notes* …. writing.

        • Zmirak

          So you’re a Muslim. Good to know.

          • Ol Buck

            Look, just concede that your deepest and most heartfelt devotion is to American political conservatism we’re all done here.

            Kind regards,

            A guy who votes for Republicans but knows that “Christus vincit. Christus regnat. Christus imperat.” is not an empty phrase to chant on one feast per year.

          • Zmirak

            Thanks for helping me understand how the sex abuse crisis happened. People like you choosing tribal loyalty over clear thinking and intellectual honesty. Surely the “good name of the bishop, the heir of the Apostles” was more important than mere “parental rights.” You refuse, consistently, to consider the TRUTH CLAIMS asserted. (Such as whether fellow tribe members “Catholics!” are overstepping their authority or flouting natural law in a given situation.) You are only interested in loyalty. That kind of voluntarism is precisely what Benedict XVI condemned at Regensburg. It is not in any sense Catholic.

          • Ol Buck

            Wow. What an utterly vile thing to say. True loyalty to Holy Mother Church would prompt a good son to not only properly investigate sexual abuse claims within ecclesial courts, but to report such accusations to civil authorities. It was not a matter of being loyal to the Truth or the Church that prompted bishops to cover up these awful sins and crimes. It was cowardice, pure and simple.

            I am insisting that political decisions not merely be *informed by* but *subservient to* to the teaching of the Church. This is in no way a controversial position. It is, in fact, something to which we are called. Now of course, being a good citizen means you can’t withdraw entirely from politics because all that is on the cards are imperfect choices. I find the Republican party to be absolutely vile right now. Despicable policies and led by a despicable person. And yet, what is my alternative as an American citizen? A party whose chief sacrament is child murder. Lovely.

            So yes, I will vote for what I determine to be the “lesser evil” … if such a lesser evil makes itself readily apparent.

            At the same time, John, this is a ridiculous sentiment: “If the “Church” (say, Pope Francis) were ordering Catholics to violate their duty as patriotic citizens, say by opening the borders, I’d side with my country.” Let’s leave aside the right to migrate. Yes, right, though that does not mean every nation needs to accept anyone and everyone who wants to come in. It does, however, need to be generous. Anyway, leave that aside.

            What if the Holy Father demanded that you steer clear of political parties and policies that support the death penalty. What if the Church said you had to back policies that give free healthcare to the poor? (Which, actually it does already)

            Or yes, what if the Church declared that, because of the worldwide fertility crisis in the West, you ought to subsidize these “Catholic aristocrats” so that they can have large Catholic families? Would you not be compelled to seriously evaluate why you were being asked to do this? Or would you dismiss it out of hand “BAH! The pope cannot tell me what to do on this political issue.”

            How then would you be any different than the Pelosis, Bidens, Kaines, Cuomos of the world who say they are “personally against abortion” but are okay with it as a matter of policy?

          • Zmirak

            You say you would have reported to the authorities. I don’t believe you. I believe you place tribal identity over truth. But leave that aside.
            On each of those issues I would judge on the MERITS. Catholics should oppose abortion ON THE MERITS, not out of obedience. As the great pro-life Dr. Jerome Lejeune said, if the Church endorsed abortion, he would leave the Church.

          • Richard Malcolm

            This places a lot – I might say most – American traditionalist Catholics in a strange place, because they generally loathe the present, post-conciliar American hierarchy just about as much as they despair of present American government (whether they voted for Trump or not). A brutal assessment of this situation is sadly captured by the observation once made of Fr James McLucas, former editor of Latin Mass magazine who had his faculties suspended by the Archdiocese of New York, that he would have much been better off getting caught abusing altar boys than getting caught celebrating the Traditional Mass.

            Which is another way of saying that – outside the sedevacantist brigade – most American trads have probably had their ultramontanism and pray-pay-obey instinct beaten out of them. They’ve spent too long at odds with a hierarchy, popes included, who betrayed or oppressed them too many times. Some may be guilty of retreating into political LARPism, perhaps; but for this sort of hierarchical deference, it’s really a certain kind of conservative, Steven Walford-type Catholic that’s really the problem I think you have in mind.

  • Meredith

    This article is weak if the best example you could find of a “Catholic welfare queen” is Simcha Fisher. Her family’s stint on food stamps happened years ago. It was a temporary event. I feel like basic reading comprehension should have allowed you to deduce that from her article. Also, though she doesn’t mention it in that post, her husband is not a liberal arts major. Her sarcastic quip was, you know, sarcasm aimed at people who were calling her a welfare queen.

    • Zmirak

      There are plenty of other examples. However, I chose not to reveal details of people’s personal stories that THEY THEMSELVES did not boast about in published articles.

    • Zmirak

      You also skipped the fact that 250,000 people (more actually) shared or liked the post, hundreds of them chiming in to share the fact that they too relied on the taxpayer. As one chirpily said, “The federal government helps me have my Catholic babies.” So no, not an isolated incident. I wish it were.

      • Ol Buck

        Yeah God forbid the government help people have babies. Why, that would almost be pro-life.

  • DamianD

    It is particularly ironic that this article itself contains a link begging readers for money…. so that the author of this article can continue to do what he finds interesting (sitting at his desk writing articles instead of doing something that concretely contributes to society) — while he condemns those who “do what they find interesting” (e.g. the *actually hard, concrete, productive* work of going to work every day to educate youth in truth and virtue) instead of “concretely contributing to society.”

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