Social Issues & Action


Who Are the Poor I’m Supposed to Care For?

by Steve Ray on September 4, 2016

As we leave our rented apartment in Rome and walk towards St. Peter’s Square I notice a ragged, filthy woman sitting on a piece of cardboard with a baby laying lethargically in her arms. She looks up with mournful eyes and pathetically mumbles something as she reaches out hoping I’ll put coins in her hand.

A few feet beyond her is a man stooped over his cane so painful-appearing that he is barely able to lift his eyes to make contact with mine. A paper cup is stationed on the sidewalk in front of him; he also reaches out a filthy hand plaintively begging for money.

We stop by a sidewalk café for a quick coffee before entering the Square. We are approached by children with tinny-sounding accordions. They boldly step up playing and singing. When they have finished a few moments of this “performance” they walk among the tables with their hands out.

This weekend at Mass we were exhorted by Our Lord Jesus to feed the poor, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty and other sorts of charitable action to help the poor. But who are the poor Jesus is referring to? Are the people I passed on the street the poor I should help? Are they the one’s that Jesus refers to? Is the man sitting on the corner nursing the last few drops from his whiskey bottle the one I’m supposed to give a drink to? Many people asked these questions today and struggle with the commands to help the poor and the thirsty. They ask the question who are the poor and the thirsty and hungry?

Most of the beggars we encounter in major cities around the world are what we call Romani, or more commonly known as gypsies. I don’t know all of them, of course, but we see everywhere children who do not go to school but are used as beggars and thieves to supply cash for the camp. My heart weeps for these kids as I see a young boy sitting in an underground walkway by himself all day without friends or family looking up to strangers who walk by ignoring him. It rips my guts out.

I’ve often said to my wife, “I’d like to rescue that boy and take him home and raise them properly.” But if I did this, I’d be arrested for kidnapping. I picture my grandchildren and I have a sense of loathing, pity and despair. What can I do when they are part of a family and a clan that treats their children this way and think it is normal. If I give him money it only propagates his abuse. A kind word or bit of food is about all I can do with a clear conscience.

I remember walking through Mumbai India.bin advance I had packed a bunch of sandwiches in a bag to hand out as I walked through the poor parts of the city. I would spot for people sitting on the sidewalk, or children climbing into dumpsters for their breakfast. I handed out the sandwiches with Billy but was stopped by a young boy about 10 years old who said, “You are doing a very bad thing.” I asked, “Why?” he said, “People need to take responsibility for their lives. If you give them things they will never learn to be responsible for themselves.”

Very wise words for a 10-year-old. It’s not that I believe that everyone is able to look out for themselves–there are many who are in desperate need of our help and unable to help themselves, but his point was well taken. I told him his father must be a wise man.

I’ve watched a crippled man leaning on a cane whimpering in pain until 5:00 PM when his shift ended. He looked at his watch, he stood up straight and walked back home. He was there again the next day exploiting the sympathies of naïve, kindly-hearted people.

We’ve had two young girls with babies in their arms standing very close to us on a bus full of smiles. We spoke kind words and paid attention to the babies only to find out a few moments later that our fannypacks, purses, and everything else had been unzipped. The babies are often drugged to make them look lethargic and pathetic. They are used as zombie props in the art of theft. Often the girls are not even their mothers. They can be referred to as “rent-a-babies.”

Once my wife caught a boy with his hand in her pocket. Many of these people beg for a living and when they don’t make enough begging they steal. My wife lost her wallet this way not more than a month ago and tourists often find their passports, credit cards and cash have disappeared. This is why we repeatedly warn our pilgrims to watch out for pickpockets everywhere we go.

Personally, I cannot give money to such folks because to do so propagates their lifestyle, supports their continued child abuse, thievery and despicable lifestyle. We cannot support and condone such conduct. How do I know the real poor and those that are just making a dishonest living, some of them quite a good living?

Two things I try to do besides pray for folks that I see in need. First, if I see a person who is obviously in distress, missing a leg, blind, or some other obvious disadvantage I will pull money out and share with them along with a kind word. Second, I look for the Missionaries of Charity in their simple white habits striped with blue. It does not have to be their specific order but these I know and have confidence in.

We know where they are housed in Rome. It is an inconspicuous door with a simple doorbells to the right. I push the doorbell, then push it again and sooner or later one of these beautiful sisters will open the door. They all have the same gracious smiles and kindly faces as their founder, Mother Teresa. My wife and I return her smile and hand them a generous donation. We ask them to use it for the poor and to assist in their ministry. I don’t know who really needs the money, but they do.

Once in Mumbai India we were invited to visit one of their compounds. They took us on a tour—room after room of disadvantaged, mentally handicapped, diseased and dying (out of respect we took no pictures except of the sisters you see here). One room contained about 100 cribs in neat rows each with a child unable to care for themselves. Many had diseases, mental handicaps, twisted bodies. Janet and I were in tears having never seen anything like this in our lives. What touched us most was the sisters and volunteers working among these castaways treating them with great love and affection. They bathed them, fed them, changed their diapers, caressed them.

However, not everyone that comes to their compound are admitted. They are selective who gets admitted to their care.

One little volunteer, a lady no more than 5 feet tall, said proudly, “I come here every day. I love serving Our Lord Jesus this way!” Looking around Janet and I were repulsed by the pain, disease, twisted bodies, staring eyes, gangrene and seeming hopelessness. We were moved tears as we watched the sisters love these disadvantaged people as though they were loving Jesus himself. We hugged them all and with choked voices said, “Sisters, you make me proud to be Catholic. I couldn’t do what you do for even 10 minutes. You make us very proud!”

In Jesus’s time there was no Social Security, unemployment benefits, welfare and other social supports for the underprivileged. Churches had not begun charitable work and few cared for anything but themselves. In ancient Rome life was cheap and cities were full of slaves and the destitute. A drink or offering of food to a slave laboring under the hot sun was a true act of charity because no one paid any mind to the slaves. Jesus stopped to heal and care for the blind, the lame, the hungry of his time.

In the time of Jesus, a woman without a husband or son could be left destitute. Unwanted infants were tossed under bridges only to be eaten by the wild dogs. It is no coincidence that Scripture often uses the care of widows and orphans as a sign of one’s spirituality. Many were unjustly imprisoned and the truly poor were cast aside. Were some poor because they were lazy or because they made poor choices? Of course. The book of Proverbs in the Bible is full of exhortations for hard work and to eschew laziness and sloth. It is the same today.

But often others are made poor by choices of their parents or others around them. At the same time in America it is hard to think of someone  as poor who has cable television, a cell phone and many other benefits and amenities of our modern welfare society–especially since I’ve seen so much from around the world. Our society has a good number who know how to milk the system, get what is undeserved and avoid the effort and work to care for themselves.

There are still people who truly need our assistance and we should see them as Jesus himself. I am not one for condoning irresponsibility, laziness or habitual bad choices. But, we also want to help those who are truly in need as Jesus requires of us. Now that we are Catholics we make sure our donations are given to legitimate Catholic charities. We also make sure to help our own when they are in need.

When we are in Jerusalem we take up donations and give money to the Patriarch of Jerusalem knowing that such gifts will be given to the truly needy among our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. There are too many charities that use the money improperly and not all of it gets to those who need it. Unhappily there are many of these, even in the Holy Land.

Discernment is important, charity is essential, obedience to Our Lord is crucial and caring for the unfortunate and disadvantaged is not an option. When we were Protestants we used to believe in “faith alone” but that mantra is hard to chant when hearing the gospel last Sunday which said heaven and hell will be the result of our choices—whether we care for others or whether we ignore them.

Dear Lord, give us wisdom and charity and the means to help and willingness to do so. Mother Theresa, pray for us!


Free Market Economy or Socialism?

by Steve Ray on September 2, 2016

I was recently asked:
“Between a Socialist system of economics or a Free market Capitalist system, which is more Moral? Which system best represents a Christian view?

My short response:
The Catechism reflects the teaching of the Church by stating that a society should protect the right to private property and to free enterprise (CCC 2211, 2402). This is the basis of a free market system and the freedom and security of individual rights and the family. This of course does not preclude the proper use of taxation and social concern and care for the less fortunate. Socialism, though it often espouses high ideals, too often views the State as the ultimate owner of property and the individual can be taxed or their property confiscated at the will of the State.

Though the Church teaching the fair and equitable distribution of material things among peoples, it does not approve of rewarding sloth and punishing industrious enterprise to create wealth. God spoke through Moses who said, “God gives the power to make wealth” (Deut 8:17-18). Wealth is not an evil but a blessing and something that can be desired as a good and not an evil.

However, those who have wealth should share with those who are truly needy, not simply the poor who chose to be poor by lacking ambition, hard work or honesty. The Catechism clearly expresses the duty of the individual and the state to use property justly and to care for the less fortunate. The socialist system usually penalizes hard work and industry while rewarding the opposite.

Democracy and Free Enterprise without a Christian philosophical base can quickly become a system of greed and oppression; on the other hand, socialism becomes a system of greed and oppression and the government will always grow and grow and cater to those who it feeds.

So I am in favor of limited representative government to protect the individual and his rights, the family, private property and free enterprise. I am in favor of a free market capitalism that is tempered by charity and compassion with reasonable and limited governmental controls and protections.

The sinfulness and greed of Man makes this all difficult and a delicate balancing act. With a Christian consensus within a nation — as with the inception and beginnings of the United States — the goals are possible. But if there is a lack of moral and charitable consensus, the goals cannot be achieved and people are willing to give up their rights and freedoms bowing to a stronger government promising to insure peace and control and redistribution of wealth.

What do you think?


What Happens when a Transgender Guy Enters Women’s Restrooms and Targeting Target and Joining the Boycott

April 21, 2016

For video, see below…    Sign Petition: HERE. This whole transgender bathroom issue is ridiculous. I wonder how long it’ll take our country to realize how stupid it really is.  Anyway, we used to shop at target for a number of things but those days are over.    I just posted this on the target Facebook […]

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My CD Audio “Swimming Upstream: Living a Catholic Life in a Pagan World” now available at Lighthouse!

April 3, 2016

This is the talk I have been most asked to give in the last few years. It is a hard-hitting, politically incorrect talk about the state of our culture and what we as Christians are called to do. I use some pretty scary and interesting stories and example. We step back into the early Church […]

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Prepare for a New America – Using Detroit as a Model

March 5, 2016

By Frosty Wooldridge. Frosty Wooldridge (born 1947) is a US journalist, writer, environmentalist and traveler. (I ,Steve Ray who is posting his article, was born in Detroit. My ancestors lived there since the 1700’s.) I posted this a while ago but thought it worth revisiting again with Detroit recently in the news.   For 15 […]

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Excellent Talk by Rev. Billy Graham – A Message for Our Time and a Blast from My Past (video fixed)

December 27, 2015

I have a soft spot in my heart for this man because he has had a PROFOUND impact on our family. It was his message over the airwaves in 1953 that first brought my mom to Christ and my mom and dad then brought us boys to a living and vibrant knowledge of Jesus Christ.  […]

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I Just Donated to Christians Persecuted in Syria – Join Me!

September 16, 2015
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Office Depot Defiantly Rejects Printing Order for a Pro-Life prayer; I Just Took Action!

September 11, 2015

n a clear case of religious discrimination, Office Depot has refused to print 500 copies of a flyer that contains a prayer to end abortion at the hands of Planned Parenthood. Chicago resident Maria Goldstein wanted to make a few hundred copies for her parish and went to her local Office Depot store, where her […]

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Countdown to Persecution in America

August 17, 2015

Two excellent articles (Part I and Part II and Part III). There is no doubt our society is rapidly moving away from it foundations and turning into an intolerant, secular society. When that happens Christians are the first to suffer. Over the last few years I have been giving a talk entitled “Swimming Upstream: Living a […]

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Lobby to Defund Planned Parenthood: If Everyone Speaks out it Might Just Happen.

August 3, 2015

Click on the image to right for an easy and quick way to make yourself heard. Pass it along to everyone you know.

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If the Feds Demand Same-Sex Marriage, What Will Our Pastors Do?

July 9, 2015

America’s Catholic bishops, and other church leaders, may face a choice between saving souls and the bricks and mortar. Scary article and big question for our bishops. Read the whole article here. 

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Pope Francis’s Encyclical: Updates, Reviews, Critiques

June 23, 2015

A lot is being said about Laudato Si both from supporters and critics — of which I guess I am both. I would fall in the camp of the Acton Institute… Here are eight links worth reading and watching as you digest and work through the new encyclical. 1) Acton Institute critique by my friend […]

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Draft of Pope’s Environment Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things You Should Know

June 16, 2015

Jimmy Akin has done a great job summarizing the situation and the encyclical to-date. It starts out: With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet. Here are 12 things to know and share . . . 1) […]

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“Created for Greatness”: The Emerging Catholic Men’s Movement – CWR Article

May 7, 2015

My friend Joe Hanneman just had his excellent article on the need for Mens’ Movements in Catholic World Report. He had interviewed me for the article and he used my quotes :-) Men, and women who love their men, should read this article and encourage real men to be involved. It makes better sons, better […]

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Keep Your Kids Home from School to Protest Gay-Lesbian Tyranny

April 14, 2015

The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. GLSEN is listed on AFA’s anti-Christian Bigotry map. This year, GLSEN is urging teen students to practice openly homosexual activism in the public classroom on Friday, April 17. On this day, thousands of public high schools and […]

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