There is one rule by which to judge if God is near usThirty-one years ago today, Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, was shot while celebrating the Eucharist. Yesterday President Obama visited Archbishop Romero's tomb - a remarkable thing, given Romero's criticism of the United States and his embrace of liberation theology. (Beck, et al, will be foaming at the mouth over this one.) Both Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado's and Daniel Horan's comments are worth reading.
or is far away –
the rule that God’s word is giving us today:
everyone concerned for the hungry, the naked, the poor,
for those who have vanished in police custody,
for the tortured,
for all flesh that suffers,
has God close at hand. (The Violence of Love)
Romero was a strong advocate for the preferential option for the poor. You can understand, then, why I'm so angry after reading today that House Republicans are considering cutting food stamps and other anti-poverty programs in their 2012 budget, while at the same time proposing a tax holiday for corporations' overseas profits. The cut in food stamps is supposed to encourage those "stuck in the system" to find "gainful employment" - which might be a problem given that there are so few jobs available right now. The corporate tax holiday is meant to spur job growth.
So let me get this straight: We're going to get America back to work by cutting welfare programs for the poor and increasing corporate welfare. The idea, I suppose, is that tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy will eventually help the poor. That's a convenient bit of logic. More likely, though, is that the rich have political clout and the poor do not. Politicians have fits of conscience about this and dream up Orwellian fables meant to justify their neglect of the poor. "Rising tides lift all boats" and such. Economic development is good for everyone, they say - but, as Archbishop Romero said:
What good are beautiful highways and airports,
beautiful buildings full of spacious apartments,
if they are only put together with the blood of the poor,
who are not going to enjoy them?