The Church in a Culture of Indifference

A primary theme of Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli tutti is the menace posed by the indifference settling over our world.  Indifference has always been present in this life, but modern means of communication, production, and distribution have made it easier than ever for us to isolate ourselves, to retreat into our own world or a world accessible only to those who think exactly the same way we do, and to condemn everyone else as wrong, or even simply unworthy of our notice.  And those same developments of communication, production, and distribution have made the potential consequences of such indifference many times more devastating.

What are we to do about it?  Two of the antidotes to indifference are charity and cultivation of a sense of solidarity: that what happens to others affects us, too, whoever and wherever they may be.

In Good Conscience

Saint Rose of Lima gave her entire being to Christ, starting with her childhood.  Joyfully, she traded everything she had – including comfort – for the good of all.  She is a shining example of solidarity and devotion.

Saint Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Lima: a patron in solidarity and devotion.

One of the main themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli tutti is the menace posed by the indifference settling over our world.  Indifference has always been present in this life, but modern means of communication, production, and distribution have made it easier than ever for us to isolate ourselves, to retreat into our own world or a world accessible only to those who think exactly the same way we do, and to condemn everyone else as wrong, or even simply unworthy of our notice.  We never have to deal with people we disagree with, or who don’t meet our standards, if we don’t want to. And those same developments of communication, production, and distribution have made the potential consequences of such segregation and indifference many times more devastating.

In illustrating his point, the Holy Father cites Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan, recorded in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke.  The indifference of the passersby, both of them self-professed holy men who look the other way and keep going while passing a victim of violent crime lying at the roadside, is contrasted with the concern displayed by a passing Samaritan businessman, who – despite being a despised foreigner – binds the victim’s wounds and procures shelter for him before continuing on his way with a promise to return.  As the Pope points out, this should remind us of ourselves as we make our way through our workdays, worrying about our next exotic vacation or the next fantastic spectacle we will experience while so many others, across the street and around the world, suffer the abuse of neglect and denial.

In the Church it is not difficult to find examples of truly holy individuals who, through a profound sense of devotion, gave everything of themselves to God and neighbour.  Saint Damien of Molokai, who travelled from Belgium to Hawaii in the 1800s to live and die with the suffering in a leper colony, comes to mind.

Another example, less familiar in North America but deeply loved in Latin America, is Saint Rose of Lima. This remarkable individual, the first Catholic of the Americas to be declared a saint, literally devoted every moment of her entire conscious life to Christ, starting with infancy, and through him to her city and all those around her, including particularly the poor.

She is probably best known for the constant penances she practiced, which she used to bind herself spiritually with Christ.  But penance was not the only channel through which she expressed her devotion.  Born into a noble family, she embraced a life of radical poverty, allowing herself no more than two hours of sleep each night so that she would have time enough for prayer and for the work she did to support her family and her own ministry to the poor – which she operated from the small hut she lived in, in her family’s garden.  Her labours included creating fine lacework and embroidery, which she sold to noblewomen, and growing flowers, either for sale or for use in churches.  The entire proceeds were used to support her family and the poor who came to visit her in her hut. (1,2)

In other words, she used the skill of her hands to create beauty, trading and giving it away to meet the needs of others.

She addressed civic crises, too, using sacrifice and prayer.  When a fleet of Dutch pirates approached Lima intending not only to loot the city but also to desecrate the churches, Rose hurried to the Church of Santo Domingo, planning to martyr herself for the blessed sacrament and for the women, children, and religious who had taken refuge there.   She began by stirring all the people to prayer. It is said that “as pirates burst into the church, they were confronted with the terrifying spectacle of a young girl ablaze with light, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. They turned away and fled to their ships, which sailed away.”  (3)  A grateful city accredited its salvation to Saint Rose.

Like so many of those who give themselves completely to God, Saint Rose died young.  As recounted by the Canadian Dominicans, “Rose died at the early age of thirty-one, on August the twenty fourth, 1617. The entire city mourned the death of the saint, for it seemed that the people of all classes owed her a special debt. Indians and Negroes, whom she had nursed back to health, knelt around her bier alongside of Spanish grandees, whom she had brought back to the sacraments or saved from loss of fortune.” (4)

Peru has been so grateful for her life and ministry that until recently, her image appeared on their highest-denomination banknotes. (6)


The Dominican Sisters of Racine, Wisconsin, have provided a beautiful prayer in the spirit of Saint Rose at Rose of Lima – May.pdf.

As we pray it, let us reflect on ways in which Saint Rose exemplified the virtues of solidarity, humility, and subsidiarity, and promoted the dignity and the sanctity of life, and the common good.  (7)



  1. Catholic Encyclopedia:
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica:
  3. Dominicans of Nashville:
  4. Dominicans of Canada:
  5. Dominicans of Racine: Rose of Lima – May.pdf
  7. Principles, values, and virtues of Catholic social thought:


Of Common Interest

Two Canadian provincial healthcare systems recently offered Socially-Assisted Suicide (SAD) to a pair disabled Canadian men, as alternatives to the more personal but also significantly more expensive support that might have helped them to live lives of dignity in accordance with the gifts entrusted to them by God.  Were these authorities motivated by charitable concern for the men’s well-being?

Sanctity and Dignity of Life, the Common Good, and Truth: Selling Suicide to the Disabled

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports (1,2) that lack of a suitable mattress in a Quebec hospital contributed to the Socially-Assisted Death (SAD) of a 66-year-old quadriplegic.  According to the CBC, Norman Meunier, a former truck driver, lost the use of his arms and legs as a result of a 2022 spinal injury.  He went to the hospital in January for help with a respiratory ailment, and after a four-day stay in the emergency room was admitted to intensive care.   Lying on an emergency stretcher during the four-day ER stay, with no one to move him periodically, he developed a severe bed sore – a sore that left bone and muscle exposed.  As an alternative to assistance with moving in the stretcher, the CBC reports, the sore could have been prevented by an “alternating pressure mattress.” When asked, the hospital reported that no such mattress was available.

Still suffering and in pain from the bed sore, and concerned about becoming a burden for those around him, Mr. Meunier elected SAD in mid April.

Canadian Physicians for Life reports a newly-released 5-minute video(3) demonstrating that Mr. Meunier was not alone in considering SAD as an alternative to preventable suffering.  In the video, Mr. Roger Foley, a 39 year-old facing severe mobility issues, complains that SAD has been offered to him by caregivers multiple times – as an alternative, he fears, to the greater expense and effort involved in supporting him so that he can return to his own home and apply his passion for life toward the development of his full human potential.  The offers, he says, leave him feeling “pillaged.” To have SAD presented to him as a legitimate alternative by the system that purportedly exists to support him, he says, represents a “total devaluing” of him and all that he is, categorizing him as a “waste of resources.”

Church teaching

The Church teaches that the proper purposes of government and all other human institutions arise naturally from a proper understanding of the purpose and the dignity of life.(4)  If, as the Church believes, the purpose of life is for each soul to search for and find the truth which is God, and to seek to grow closer to God, and to ensure that all other souls are encouraged and enabled to find their own ways to God, then it follows that the proper role of government is to provide, with the support of the Church and other moral, educational, economic, and cultural institutions,  a legal, economic, and social framework in which the common good can flourish, in order that the people may accomplish their mission – that is, so that the people may use the freedom God has given them to seek the truth and thereby return to Him.  The true common good consists in enabling and encourage individuals to seek their own proper path to the truth which is God.

The Church also teaches the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.  Solidarity is an acknowledgement of the fact that that what affects others affects me as well, regardless of where or who we are. Subsidiarity means, among other things, that decisions should be made at the most independent level responsibly possible, and that we should be careful of concentrating too much power in too few hands. (4)

Points to ponder:

  • In Canada, government taken upon itself responsibility for the institution of health care. What do the experiences of Mr. Meunier and Mr. Foley say about the manner in which health care authorities in Canada are discharging their duties?  Is it fair to question whether their primary focus might be skewed too far toward administrative and economic efficiency, rather than the more complex task of nurturing the flourishing of challenged human beings?
  • How is it that no assistance was available for Mr. Meunier during his extended stay in the emergency department, either in the form of nursing support or a suitable mattress? Why did he remain in the emergency room for four days?
  • How was the notion of suicide presented to Mr. Meunier’s mind, when by all accounts he had the blessing of loving support at home?

Let us not forget, however, our own duties – as individuals and as a Church – to do what we can to alleviate human suffering, and to support others and accompany them on their journey toward God.

  • What, for example, is the Canadian Church doing to assist individuals – regardless of whether they identify as Catholic or even religious? Is it enough?  Are we doing all that we can?
  • And what are we as individuals doing? When we last voted, did we have these issues in mind while we discerned our best vote?  When was the last time we visited, or wrote to, our elected representatives to ask them what can and is being done to help those who are in distress?  Have we made an effort to come to understand our representatives and what they stand for?
  • Have we prayed devoutly for help?
  • And when was the last time we visited the sick? Not only our own family’s sick, but perhaps even those who are unknown to us?



Many politicians and leaders have called for action to reduce the influence of large corporations within society, while advocating support for small and medium-sized businesses in order to foster liveable communities and a culture of life at a human scale.  What actions do they propose?  And how are Catholics to approach the problem, or weigh the options?

Subsidiarity, Economy for All, and the Common Good: Government & Competition

In many recent Western elections, multiple parties and candidates have called for action to reduce the influence of large corporations within society, while advocating support for small and medium-sized businesses – which are often held to be a key to liveable communities and to a culture of life at a human scale.  Such calls are especially prevalent as the world seeks to resume “normal” economic patterns in the wake of the global COVID pandemic, with inflation driving the cost of food and other necessities higher.

What do such parties mean by “too much” corporate influence?  Those who favor corporations tend to suggest that increased corporate freedom, including no-holds-barred competition, brings increased economic efficiency, increased production, and larger profits, which can be used to pay employees and investors and thereby drive increased wealth.  Others suggest that too much corporate influence can lead to government policies that are good for profits and production, perhaps not so good for the number or quality of jobs if downsizing occurs after mergers, etc., or for the safety of the environment; or for the real welfare of the population.

And what is being done to reduce “undue” corporate influence?  In most budgets, relatively little money is allocated to consumer protection, corporate regulation, or anti-trust enforcement – typically, for example, many billions of dollars being allocated for unemployment assistance and training to replace “downsized” jobs, versus a few million for anti-trust investigations and enforcement(1,2,3,4, for example).  News reports of actions to encourage healthy competition while avoiding market domination are scarce, particularly those resulting in denial of mergers or findings of anti-competitive behaviour, even though in some countries it is common knowledge that a few major players are allowed to cooperate in controlling prices and markets without provoking government inquiry, let alone enforcement.

Several recent commentaries on the current state of anti-trust enforcement have been offered.  They all point to the need for review and action, but they are not uniform in their conclusions.

Anti-competitive practices and their consequences are seldom mentioned in Sunday homilies.  How are Catholics to understand such matters, and apply them to everyday life, including voting choices and discussions with elected representatives?

Church Teachings

Most importantly, the Church teaches the principles of the dignity of life and of work, subsidiarity, and the common good, including the purposes of business and the economy.(5)  Each of these principles flows naturally from the Church’s conception of the purpose of life:  that the first and overriding task of each soul God chooses to send into this life is to search for and find the truth which is God, and to seek to grow closer to God, and to ensure that all other souls are encouraged and enabled to find their own ways to God.  From this conception flows naturally the purposes of society and all social institutions, including business corporations and the economy.

  1. Business & the economy: Industrial and commercial institutions are meant, through the organization of resources and the economy, to provide the material benefits necessary to sustain the people in their search for truth, and to aid them in that effort in the care for one another.  Businesses can also provide meaningful, fulfilling work for people, enabling them to provide good homes and education for their children.
  2. The dignity of work: The Church teaches not only that work is an essential part of life, but that when we work in accordance with our inner passions – our individual vocations – it is a joy.  And it is also an obligation to one’s family, neighbors, and nation.  The Church also notes that dignified work is not readily available for all who seek it.
  3. Subsidiarity is the principle that all social institutions – including governments, corporations, cultural and educational institutions and associations such as the Church, schools, and charities, and most importantly individuals and families – are called to maintain their proper place in the social order, each one helping and encouraging the others in fulfilling their proper roles. If the overriding purpose of life is for individuals to find their ways back to God, then it is imperative that all other social institutions serve first and foremost to encourage and enable them in that purpose, and in no way to hinder them.  Each should provide its help –  its subsidium – to all the others, so that each individual, each family, and after them each next-lowest level of society is empowered to find its way to truth.

Governments, corporations, and other social entities should not be bigger or more powerful than they need to be in order to accomplish their legitimate purposes; and no higher or larger authority should make any decision on behalf of a lower authority that the lower or smaller entity can responsibly make for itself.

In the case of the economy, corporations can play an important role to play in training, organizing, and employing labor for complex or cooperative tasks.  Competition can play a healthy role in keeping businesses on their toes, with an eye to efficiency, quality, and customer happiness.

It is well known, however, that too much competition can result in the emergence of one or two predominant players, while others, less efficient or even simply less ruthless, fall by the wayside.  To a point, this can have the effect of driving prices down, which can be good for consumers.  But when one corporation emerges as the sole survivor, controlling a segment of the economy, then the competitive mechanism is lost, and price, employment, and supply abuse can occur.  Even when only a few players are left, they can cooperate with one another to hold prices up, by dividing markets and and agreeing not to compete.

Points to Ponder:

  • Have we, as societies, struck a sustainable balance between economic freedom, which can lead to innovation and economic efficiency, and regulations crafted to ensure that both sufficient material goods and meaningful, dignified employment are available for those who seek it, so that they can use the full breadth of their God-given talents to provide dignified lives for themselves and their families?

If not,

  • What can or should we expect our governments to do, in order to ensure that healthy levels of competition are maintained, for example to promote efficiency and innovation, while also ensuring that jobs remain available and supply is ensured?
  • What can or should we do, as individuals and a Church, to help provide conditions that promote sufficient supply of necessities while ensuring that dignified work is available for all?


  1. US Federal Budget:
  2. Canada Federal Budget, 2024:
  3. Australian Federal Budget:
  4. UK Budget:
  5. Catholic Civics:

Of Common Concern

Western democracies took government out of the hands of the Church centuries ago. So why do organizations like Catholic Conscience keep meddling?

The Separation of Church & State: subsidiarity, the common Good, and government

Catholic Conscience gets few complaints.  Every now and then, however, some irate individual will suggest that we – the Church – should keep our collective nose out of politics, generally with a request that we pay greater respect to the separation of Church and State.

The disconnect, in our view, arises from a disappointingly common misunderstanding of the proper roles of Church and State, and proper limits on the degree of their separation.  Properly considered, the Church has not only the right, but the obligation to speak out on moral issues, including political issues that touch on the well-being and authentic development of any of society’s many members.  It also has the duty of exhorting its members to participate in society in accordance with their own properly formed conclusions, based on the social framework it teaches.

The separation of Church and State can be viewed as one example of the separation of powers, which in turn can be seen as a part of the natural evolution of specialization at both individual and social levels.  History has shown many times that it is dangerous to put too much power in too few hands, or to leave power too long in any one set of hands: we humans do better when we share power and take turns.

It was from this observation that the concept of the separation of powers began to evolve – a separation of the responsibilities and authorities held by the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary; by the military and its civilian controllers; and by government and moral authority.   In effect, society was responding to Juvenal’s famous question, “who guards the guardians?”

One significant milestone was Magna Carta in 1215, which gave the nobility collective rights against the English king.  Today, especially in Western democracies, it is generally accepted that different social functions should best be filled by more or less independent agencies, in order to avoid the accumulation of too much control in too few hands.

Similarly, as society progressed scientifically and technologically, it became common to develop technical and economic specialties.  As our world grows more complex, it can help to divide responsibilities along functional lines, so that individual groups and organizations can focus on understanding increasingly complex problems.

And so, in modern democracies we have developed a number of more or less independent social institutions charged with different tasks:  governing, educating, healing, financing and manufacturing, among others.  The Church can be thought of as one of the most important of educators, teaching the younger and reminding the older of the proper purpose of life, and moral factors to be considered in making decisions.

This is a rightful and proper role of the Church as a social institution.

Points to Ponder:

Subsidiarity, the principle that each element of society should assist the others in fulfilling their proper social purposes, is one of the four permanent principles of Catholic social teaching.  Among other things, it means that decisions should be left to the lowest social levels that can responsibly handle them – that families should serve as primary caregivers for children rather than governments, that local governments should look after local concerns rather than national or international governments, etc.

  • How does the principle of subsidiarity guide our thinking about the separation of powers among the various social institutions, including for example the responsibilities of families, local governments, national and regional governments, private enterprises, and non-governmental social advocacy or agency groups?
  • What implications does the principle of separation of powers have for education? Over the last 100 years, a great deal of responsibility has been left to public educational authorities, including the establishment of social and moral as well as grammatical and mathematical curricula.  Over time, public schools have evolved from teaching the basics – reading, writing, and arithmetic – to teaching a great deal of social morality.

    To what extent is it wise to leave moral formation in the hands of authorities that are ultimately controlled by those who seek to obtain and retain the power of government – that is, the power of legal enforcement and ultimately coercion?  Can it make sense to leave some aspects of education in the hands of families, private schools, and other non-governmental institutions?

  • What implications does the principle of separation of powers have for health care? Over the last 50 years, a great deal of responsibility has been given to public health authorities, with publicly supported health benefits expanding from the original bare essentials to arguably elective procedures such as socially-assisted death (SAD, or euthanasia), addictions treatments, and gender modification surgery.

    To what extent is it wise to rely on governmental authorities for health care?  Is it possible that governments seeking increased economic efficiency might stray from providing the best medical care to providing economically expedient alternatives that may not be good for the people those governments are meant to serve?
    If governments were not to provide health care, who would do it?  Would anyone else be capable of providing at least basic health care?

    In some cases, health care is left to private enterprise: the lone doctor in a solo practice, a private hospital, etc.  Is it possible that private enterprises sometimes focus too much on profit and finance, rather than mission?  If so, does can a blended public/private health system make sense?  What are challenges faced by such systems?



Platform Comparison Cover Image

Election Guides

Updated election guides for the 2024 US and 2025 Canadian federal elections have been posted.  Further guides are in work, as noted below. We will post guides as soon as we can, and update them when possible as elections approach.   If you don’t see a desired jurisdiction in the list, or have other suggestions, please us know:

Election Date Jurisdiction Type Notes
2024 10 19 British Columbia Provincial Target posting:  July 2024
2024 10 21 New Brunswick Provincial Target posting:  July 2024
2024 10 28 Saskatchewan Provincial Target posting:  July 2024
2024 11 05 United States Federal
2025 01 UK Federal Target posting:  November 2024
2025 09 27 Australia Federal Target posting:  December 2024
2025 10 14 Newfoundland & Labr. Provincial Target posting:  January 2025
2025 10 20 Canada Federal
2027 ??? Kenya Presidential Target posting:  January 2025
2028 05 09 Philippines Presidential Target posting:  January 2025
2029 ??? South Africa General Target posting:  January 2025



The Duty to Participate

We’ve updated our explanation of the Catholic duty to participate in society, and have included an audio version.

Annual Conference

Hold the date!  Our first annual conference on Building a Culture of Life & Dignity will take place June 27-28, 2025.   We will focus on frameworks provided by governments to measure the health of society.  In the last few years, efforts have been made to expand consideration of factors other than GDP.  We will also offer workshops on topics such as hiring for mission and fundraising.  We invite everyone involved in civic mission – from environmental and peace groups to civil rights defenders.  Check our conference website at, and let us know if you have questions or suggestions.

We will share more information as the plan develops.


Litany of Saint Rose of Lima

This Litany of Saint Rose of Lima is posted on the website of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia, in Nashville, Tennessee, who credit Two Hundred Litanies of Benjamin Francis Musser O.F.M., Magnificat Press, 1944 (see reference below).   It’s a lovely prayer:

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.


God the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.


Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, Pray for us. (repeat after each line)

St. Dominic, glorious Patriarch,

St. Rose, prepared by the dew of heavenly grace,

One in whom the grace of God was not fruitless,

From infancy illustrious for holiness,

Foolish to the world but chosen by God to confound the wise,

Dear to the Virgin Mary while yet a child,

Consecrated to Christ by a vow of virginity,

Disdaining all things to gain Christ,

Shining example of an angelic life,

Lily among the thorns,

Nailed to the Cross of Christ,

Model of patience and mortification,

Refreshed by heavenly consolations,

Favored by appearances of the Mother of God,

Devoted to heavenly contemplation,

Inflamed with seraphic love of God,

Ardently zealous for the salvation of souls,

One whose charity was not extinguished by persecutions,

Dying in the love of Jesus and Mary,

Brought to Him whom she did love,

First flower of sanctity in America,

Ornament of Christian virgins,


Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

 Pray for us, St. Rose, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray:

Almighty God, the author and giver of all good things, who willed that St. Rose be prepared by the dew of grace from Heaven and bloom in America as a beauteous flower of virginity and patience. Grant to us your servants, to be drawn by the perfume of her virtue, that we may deserve to become a sweet fragrance of Christ, who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.



2024 Programming and Funding Goals

Thanks to you, we’re growing.  Our formation materials and election templates are now consulted in more than 120 countries.  We are trying to grow responsibly, so that we maintain balance and strict non-partisanship.

Here’s what we have in the works for 2024/2025

Discernment & Elections  (Estimated Programming Budget $47,500.00)

Much of our work is directed toward specific elections.  People are hungry for balanced, non-partisan information on the full range of social issues.  We’re trying to keep up.

  • Election Guides: Comprehensive analysis of party / candidate positions, with direct comparison to each other and to Catholic Social Teaching, and with Points to Ponder for promoting reflection from the Catholic point of view.  We are preparing guides for 2024 for US Presidential Election, Canadian Federal (2025) and Provincial Elections,  UK Federal Elections, and other  State / Provincial / Municipal elections.
  • Discernment Materials: Online Rosary campaigns and reflections for group and solo prayer.
  • Parish Leader Workshops: Tips for getting out the vote by encouraging parishioners to organize candidates meetings / townhall meetings, helping eligible voters in registering to vote, and assisting those who need assistance in going to the polling station.

Deeper Civic Formation (Estimated  Programing Budget $38,700.00)

A gratifying number of people are interested in learning more about Catholic Social Teaching, in particular its application in the civic and political contexts.  We were delighted when we discovered how many high school and university classes, as well as home schools and private study groups – not to mention concerned individuals – are using our materials to understand how civics and politics can work for our true good.  We want to expand the materials, and make them better. 

  • Newsletter: The Catholic Commons.   Current events and commentary promoting reflection from the Catholic point of view –  In Good Conscience, Of Common Interest, Of Common Concern
  • Formational webinars and materials: The Catholic duty to participate in civic life, formation for politicians, candidates and civic leaders, and for campaign managers & staff.
  • Catholic Civics: Resources for schools and teachers: lesson plans, instructional texts and videos.

Anything you can share will help not only you, but students, teachers, and maybe voters who don’t have enough to share.  Thanks for whatever you can do, including prayer.


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