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Soul Mending

By Yvonne Zarowny

Two developments in October and November don’t align with official church teaching

“Forgive them for they know not what they do . . . .”  
— Luke 23:34
“In order to overcome the misguided mechanisms — and replace them with new ones which will be more just and in conformity with the common good of humanity, an effective political will is needed. Unfortunately, after analyzing the situation we have to conclude that this political will have been insufficient” (35).  
— St. John Paul, 1987 Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Concern of the Church for the Social Order)  

Compared to St. John Paul II, Pope Francis has been mild in his criticism of capitalism, particularly the version of “free enterprise” practiced in the U.S.

Were you aware of that? Most people are not, including our bishops, priests, and religious educators.

I return to that in my next column as this was supposed to be a letter. Here I outline two developments that occurred in October and November 2017.

While increasing the challenge of our using our power to transform our cultures of death into a variety of actual sustainable cultures of life, what they reveal gives us a slim fighting chance.

And isn’t that what we celebrate this time of year: the birthing anew of light into darkness, of the Prince of Peace in our hearts and our world, of Immanuel — “God with us” — the birthing anew of hope that we can actually realize God’s dream for us as through grace we co-create societies where all God’s creation has life with dignity.

For us to have an actual functioning democracy as well as the freedom to choose according to our values, hopes and dreams — never mind our actual church teachings — we need good accurate information. We also need to know what our actual official teachings are, particularly our social doctrine.

Currently we have precious little of either in our communities and parishes and, in most cases, it is not the fault of our priests, religious educators, popes or bishops. It is actually part of a brilliant, if unconscionable, decades-long stealth campaign to prevent us from being politically effective in transforming our cultures. 

It has to be a stealth or covert campaign because most of us would be making different choices if we actually knew what was going on and our actual social doctrine.

With an infusion of $650 million from Koch Equity Development (KED), the investment arm of the “libertarian-when-it-suits-them” multi-billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Meredith Corp. bought the media conglomerate Time, Inc. in November 2017.

Although their spokespeople say it is strictly an investment decision, as documented in Jane Mayer’s 2016 Dark Money and Nancy MacLean’s 2017 Democracy In Chains, the Kochs do little that does not advance their self-serving version of “libertarianism.”

This is putting life on earth at risk while denying millions life — never mind life with dignity as required by our church doctrine.

As Mayer, MacLean, Thomas Frank, David Sassoon and numerous others have meticulously documented, there is no bar of integrity below which this tiny group of super-rich will not go.

This includes funding disinformation/misinformation campaigns around the world about the causes of climate chaos, terrorism and wars, as well as backing racist political candidates.

It also includes their “charitable gifts” of millions to over a hundred business and economics schools throughout the United States — including Washington’s Catholic University of America’s (CUA) Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics.

Charles Koch is an example of someone who has intentionally engineered what St. John Paul II in his 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Concern of the Church for the Social Order) calls “structures of sin” (36) and of committing “real forms of idolatry” through the worship of “money, ideology, class and technology” (37).

Yet, in October 2017, at CUA “Good Profit and Catholic Social Doctrine” Conference, Charles Koch gave one of the keynotes.

According to Tom Roberts' article, “Koch, Turkson speak at Catholic University’s ‘Good Profit’ conference,” Tim Busch, himself a multi-millionaire and part of the Koch network, boasted “they” have educated over half of the bishops in the U.S.

Of the differences between what Koch presented and Cardinal Turkson, who was presenting what our actual social doctrine is, Busch stated: “We have to discern and reconcile; we have to listen to both sides.”

Why should Canadian Catholics or anyone else care?

These folks are directly and indirectly educating our bishops, priests and us about what constitutes “pro-life” and our actual social doctrine — particularly that of St. John Paul II.

Corporations that are subsidiaries of the Koch Industrial Empire are also significant investors in Canada’s oilsands, pipelines, the highly toxic chemicals needed to get the bitumen to flow, the refineries that process the diluted bitumen, developers of the steam method for extracting the tar that actually destroys water, the Fraser Institute, Cardus and much more.

Also, we the Canadian taxpayer provide them with so much in subsidies that the International Monetary Fund is actually worried.

Not lobbying, not buying politicians, not lying and not accepting subsidies or tax incentives are all part of the “Big Lie” promoted by Koch et al about their “Good Profit” and “Principled Entrepreneurship.”

As documented by the investigative journalists mentioned above, they do all this and much more.

Aren’t you glad it is Christmas!
Now that we know, there is hope we can stop crucifying Jesus through our structural/social sins!


A critical educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.