Catholicism today is out of the orphanage business. Catholic Answers does a horrendous job of defining the holy calling of caring for orphans without detailing the horrific failures to protect those in their charge from abuse and unnecessarily death:
St. Joseph’s pictured above is renowned for abuse and unnecessary death. It is “estimated more than 5 million Americans passed through orphanages in the 20th century alone. At its peak in the 1930s, the American orphanage system included more than 1,600 institutions, partly supported with public funding but usually run by religious orders, including the Catholic Church.” A recent news story in Canada just unearthed mass graves: https://mol.im/a/9630875. Still, a Times article https://time.com/3194832/orphanage-study/ even makes the case Orphanages maybe better. America’s foster care system is ripe with problems.
We are an amoral world guilty of massive indifference to human life and human dignity: https://insamer.com/en/2020-orphan-report_2928.html. The 2020 Orphan report eviscerates the American Pro-Lifer narrow focus on abortion while ignoring world poverty – the typical Anti-Abortion falls into the trap of being hypocritical by failing to support human dignity after birth as evidenced by their silence on the orphan issue. The extent of their advocacy is the march with the sign, the expression of villainizing the other, seeking legalism for enforcing a religious view, and going home feeling morally superior without personal sacrifice to address the systemic societal issues pre and post birth. Who can blame them – shhhh, don’t answer that…
It is an easy reach to criminalize an impoverished women or adolescent teen then to take on world poverty, excessive capitalism, abusive dictatorships, and other systems of government and economic policy that and fail people everyday. We are willing to scapegoat the lowest denominator and stop there. Going any further requires sacrifice that as a society we are not willing to take collectively. The pro-choice movement falls short of the bar as well by ignoring the cost of abortion – physically, morally, and spiritually on women. If we could harness the energy of Pro Choice and Pro Life into fighting the social determinate issues that create the conditions that promote poverty or unwanted pregnancies – we would have sustainable change.
When the demonstration ends or the law is amended – pregnant women living in terrible circumstances are in the same position the day after the protest as they were the day before the protest. Any changed law may increase their immediate legal or medical risk – but will not improve their pre-birth, post-birth, or post-abortion life at all. As a global society we will not own world poverty and collective systems failure. We will blame the victims of indiscriminate economic violence and limit its impact on our collective consciousness by passing persecutory laws or ignoring the issues. The two issues are intrinsically linked as in both – we do not want to look at the larger picture of what our collective and personal responsibility is for the atrocities committed in our names by fiat (law), by our silence, or by our lack of action and sacrifice. Unwanted pregnancies going full-term adds another level of poverty onto the previous levels – not that this is an acceptable answer for the morality question of abortion.
This post started with the plight of orphans and the failure of Catholic orphanages in particular. The larger issue is institutions carved out of society and hidden away behind walls are bound to fail – whether run by Catholics or other well-meaning entities. They by in large are taking in victims of a larger societal issue, put on a poorly managed time out, and returned to the same communities they were in before, more often then not, more damaged then when they went into the institution.
The Catholic Faith has not walked away from its calling to be advocates for Orphans worldwide: https://crosscatholic.org/project-catalog/children/. A better focus noted in this mission is “Building homes for the poor is one of our primary missions at Cross Catholic Outreach, especially in rural areas with limited resources and following devastating natural disasters. Our housing for the poor projects build sturdy and sustainable homes in impoverished communities to help families thrive while supporting spiritual development and offering the love of Jesus Christ.” This is an idealism view built on scripture – but it is a band aid for social ills – much the way the police and the lower-level criminal pay the price for intersection violence that comes from the “haves” and the “have nots” or on a larger scale military soldiers and innocent civilians when societies clash over resources.
Before we blame the victim or the criminal, before we blame the historical institutions or current ones – it is relevant to fully understand what our role is and how we benefit or not from any recommended solutions. In the west, we are hard-wired into a scarcity model where competition and individualism reign to our detriment to live a spiritual life.
The idea of higher taxes is anathema for many Americans. The risk of a lower socio-economic state by the imposition of fair wages here in the west and globally is not discussed. Nor is the dynamic tension of poorer nations need to rise. An economic shift is needed for a “no-growth or slow growth” economy – as world population growth in Richer countries is declining and resources are being challenged. These macro forces create winners and losers – and the losers are the orphans of tomorrow. Band-Aids will be applied to the degree possible by public charity, religious missions, and governmental interventions – often weeks, months or even years to late.
When we farm out personal responsibility to political parties, religious institutions, or other governmental institutions without investment and sacrifice ourselves – we are the problem.
I personally do not have wealth to make a significant difference. I do not have the charisma to ignite or change world sentiment. I do not have the “ear” of God to talk to and demand intervention. It is seemingly a choice of hopelessness or rage.
What to do – to quell our powerlessness or handle our rage? Harness the emotions into action. Quiet the irrational and listen to the calm. Yes, for me, the first tool is prayer its many forms – despite a disquiet understanding that my desires and intentional prayer may not impact the situations for which I pray in the way I want. This step helps sort out the gap between what I can do and what is beyond my influence. After that letting go – other actions and things fall into place. What is my calling? What can I do better today? What can I do additionally after that perhaps outside my calling?
I have just sent in a few dollars to “Save the Children” via the charity navigator tool below. They do the work of rating charities so you don’t have to do it.
Or perhaps this resource – the Lazy Mans guide to saving the world is for you:
You can improve a kids life from anywhere in the world!
If you spent the time to read this blog – please spend an extra fifteen seconds and click on one of the two charity links above and give something extra today – no matter your view on the politics of poverty and the dignity of life issues. Be a part of the solutions.