I had a hard time deciding whether to give this book a 5 or a 1. I decided on a 5 because the book is so useful if you want a treatise on how one takes selective excerpts from Church documents out of context and turns it into a campaign for the political left. If you are going to read only one book read the enemy's!
I have read every Church social document from Rerum Novarum to Centessimun Annus and rather than just give my opinion let me give my own list of quotes:
RELATION OF FAMILY DETERORATION TO POVERTY: (not found in this book)
"The first and fundamental structure for "human ecology" is the family....... . Here we mean the family founded on marriage" (emphasis in the original text) (Centessimus Annus # 39, The Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, Supreme Roman Pontiff, John Paul II, 1991)
THE WONDERFUL WELFARE STATE:
"In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of state, the so-called "Welfare State." This has happened in some countries in order ....... remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. .... Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions ... By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies .... ..... It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need" (Supreme Roman Pontiff, John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #48, Hundedth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, 1991)
REDISTRIBUTE WHAT WE HAVE - LIMITED RESOURCES:
"Truth to tell, we do not seem to be faced with any immediate or imminent world problem arising from the disproportion between the increase of population and the supply of food. Arguments to this effect are based on such unreliable and controversial data that they can only be of very uncertain validity. 189. Besides, the resources which God in His goodness and wisdom has implanted in Nature are well-nigh inexhaustible" (Mater et Magistra, Christianity and Social Progress, His Holiness Pope John XXIII, 15 May 1961)
LIMITED WEALTH SO LET'S HELP POOR BY DRAGGING DOWN OTHERS:
"It should be noted that in today's world, among other rights, the right of economic initiative is often suppressed. Yet it is a right which is important not only for the individual but also for the common good. Experience shows us that the denial of this right, or its limitation in the name of an alleged "equality" of everyone in society, diminishes, or in practice absolutely destroys the spirit of initiative, that is to say the creative subjectivity of the citizen. As a consequence, there arises, not so much a true equality as a "leveling down" ..... (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II)
SOCIALISM MUST BE THE ANSWER:
"The supreme commandment of love leads to the full recognition of the dignity of each individual, created in God's image. From this dignity flow natural rights and duties. In the light of the image of God, freedom, which is the essential prerogative of the human person, is manifested in all its depth. Persons are the active and responsible subjects of social life. (109) Intimately linked to the foundation, which is man's dignity, are the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity. By virtue of the first, man with his brothers is obliged to contribute to the common good of society at all its levels. (110) Hence the Church's doctrine is opposed to all the forms of social or political individualism. By virtue of the second, neither the state nor any society must ever substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and of intermediate communities at the level on which they can function, nor must they take away the room necessary for their freedom. (111) Hence the Church's social doctrine is opposed to all forms of collectivism." (emphasis added) (Libertatis Conscientia, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, His Eminence Josef Ratzinger, Cardinal Prefect, SCDF, Approved in Audience by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, 22 March 1986)
The whole problem is best summarized here:
"The feeling of anguish at the urgency of the problems (of relieving poverty) cannot make us lose sight of what is essential and forget the reply of Jesus to the Tempter: 'It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God' (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3).
Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into
"Faced with the urgency of sharing bread, some are tempted to put evangelization into parentheses, as it were, and postpone it until tomorrow: first the bread, then the Word of the Lord. It is a fatal error to separate these two and even worse to oppose the one to the other. In fact, the Christian perspective shows they have a great deal to do with one another." (His Eminence, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Libertatis Nuncius, Instruction on Certain Aspects of Liberation Theology, Approved in Audience by the Roman Pontiff, John Paul II, 6 August,1984)
What it really comes down to is that Fr. Kammer has done an excellent job of perusing Church documents to find selected quotes that support a left wing socioeconomic agenda. GREAT JOB!
Dear faithful Catholics: READ THIS BOOK!
...is its teachings and praxis of social justice. Father Kammer, formerly the head of Catholic Charities USA nicely summarizes in depth (without the highbrow theological talk) Catholic social teaching.
If you work with people day in and day out, especially those considered by the cold eyes of society as 'downtrodden' (those with spiritual insight realize that there is no 'we' and 'they'), this book will help provide you with some resolve and help put into perspective the application of faith and why it is we are here.