Supernatural Social Work

Supernatural Social Work

The world needs a supernatural social work, and only the Catholic Church can lead this charge. Simple House has been developing ideas about supernatural social work and researching the history of the idea. Msgr. Paul Furfey and Prof. Mary Walsh saw the limitations of modern social work 75 years ago. Here is an excerpt by Msgr. Furfey (1944):

“The Church favors social legislation, collective bargaining, effective law enforcement, international arbitration, public health activities, efficient social work, and all other up-to-date methods of meeting social problems. In this respect Catholic social thinking shows a strong superficial resemblance to the thought of non-Catholic writers. But mark the difference carefully! Whereas these techniques are the sole solution of the unbelieving sociologist for all social problems, in the eyes of the Catholic they are only a sort of symptomatic treatment. The Catholic sees deeper, and realizes that far beneath the immediate causes the mystery of iniquity is at work and that his real solution is to attack the latter. The unbelieving social scientist is like a physician who gives a sedative to a patient suffering from a brain tumor and does nothing more. The Catholic is like a physician who gives the sedative indeed but them proceeds to the difficult and delicate operation which brings a permanent cure.
Only the Catholic has a fundamental remedy for social problems, for only the Catholic diagnoses the basic cause, which is the mystery of iniquity. To attack this he must use supernatural means. Therefore he must rely on such methods as prayer, the sacraments, the practice of the Christian virtues. This is the constant teaching of the social encyclicals. The point cannot be fully developed at present; but it is worth while to cite one example. Pope Leo XIII, speaking of the class struggle which involves “arrogance, asperity, fraud on the part of the more powerful, misery, envy, turbulence on the part of the poor,” went on to say that “it is vain to seek a remedy for these evils in legislation, in the threat of penalties, or in the devices of human prudence.” He proceeded to argue that for such evils the spirit of charity is the antidote and that we should therefore seek the solution of the problem in the Holy Eucharist, the great source of charity.”
The Mystery of Iniquity 1944