Mission


The Aims & Means of the Catholic Worker

In economics, we strive to live as Jesus did–simple and poor. The use of money can be for good, but must never be an end in itself. We are all stewards of his great gift to us. ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you‘ -Luke 6:38. The number of hungry and homeless and unemployed people rises in the midst of increasing affluence. We must be radically opposing materiality and purposeless wealth gain.

In labor, the dignity of work has become industrialized and left to large scale mechanization with little input from human hands. Furthermore, as jobs become more specialized, many people are excluded from meaningful work or are alienated from the products of their labor. Even in farming, moral restraints are run over roughshod, and a disregard for the laws of nature now threatens the very planet. May we use the gift of our human hands to co-create with the creator!

In politics, the state functions to control and regulate life and the care of the poor. Because of the sheer size of institutions, we tend towards government by bureaucracy–that is, government by nobody. Bureaucracy, in all areas of life, is not only impersonal, but also makes accountability, and, therefore, an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.

If we are to believe in a mission of love in action, a love which Jesus himself preached, we must allow him to invade all areas of our life. To be believers, we must also be actors. “…either God is everything or He is nothing…

– AA Big Book pg. 53

In morals, relations between people are corrupted by distorted images of the human person. Class, race and gender often determine personal worth and position within society, leading to structures that foster oppression. Capitalism further divides society by pitting owners against workers in perpetual conflict over wealth and its control. Those who do not “produce” are abandoned, and left, at best, to be “processed” through institutions. Spiritual destitution is rampant, manifested in isolation, promiscuity and violence.

The arms race stands as a clear sign of the direction and spirit of our age. It has extended the domain of destruction and the fear of annihilation, and denies the basic right to life. There is a direct connection between the arms race and destitution. “The arms race is an utterly treacherous trap, and one which injures the poor to an intolerable degree.” (Gaudium et Spes)* * *

In contrast to what we see around us, as well as within ourselves, stands St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of the Common Good, a vision of a society where the good of each member is bound to the good of the whole in the service of God.

We Advocate:

Personalism, a philosophy which regards the freedom and dignity of each person as the basis, focus and goal of all metaphysics and morals. In following such wisdom, we move away from a self-centered individualism toward the good of the other. This is to be done by taking personal responsibility for changing conditions, rather than looking to the state or other institutions to provide impersonal “charity.” We pray for a Church renewed by this philosophy and for a time when all those who feel excluded from participation are welcomed with love, drawn by the gentle personalism Peter Maurin, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, taught.

A decentralized society, in contrast to the present bigness of government, industry, education, health care and agriculture. We encourage efforts such as family farms, rural and urban land trusts, worker ownership and management of small factories, homesteading projects, food, housing and other small cooperatives–any effort in which money can once more become merely a medium of exchange, and human beings are no longer commodities.

In politics, the state functions to control and regulate life and the care of the poor. Because of the sheer size of institutions, we tend towards government by bureaucracy–that is, government by nobody. Bureaucracy, in all areas of life, is not only impersonal, but also makes accountability, and, therefore, an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.

In morals, relations between people are corrupted by distorted images of the human person. Class, race and gender often determine personal worth and position within society, leading to structures that foster oppression. Capitalism further divides society by pitting owners against workers in perpetual conflict over wealth and its control. Those who do not “produce” are abandoned, and left, at best, to be “processed” through institutions. Spiritual destitution is rampant, manifested in isolation, promiscuity and violence.

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