Catholic Worker is not Sectarian

by Mark Zwick

Houston Catholic Worker, May-June 1997

We were very happy to see Peter Walshe address the issue of commitment to Jesus and poverty in one of the Notre Dame campus newspapers, Common Sense.

Fortunately, the Houston Catholic Worker is outside the people he refers to as right, left or middle, so we can speak with some objectivity.

We do feel a little funny falling under his indictment as sectarian even as we write this with constant interruptions from all the agencies and churches of Houston, from police to battered women's centers to CPS to individuals in one desperate crisis after another, as thousands of people pass through Casa Juan Diego using medical clinics and participating in millions of meals, help with transportation, staying the night or day, etc.

We are not in the mainstream of middle class living--true. We are in the marketplace of the poor.

If we appear "separate from the Christian community, from what is seen as depraved in a way that we usually consider sectarian," then someone better tell us, as daily we deal with cantina people who are after our young guests to work as prostitutes, as we deal with the oppression of workers who never get paid, as we try to stop fourteen-year-old boys from being seduced to work as male prostitutes or as drug runners.

If we are "safe in the bosom of the faithful," separate from the world, as he described us, please God, enlarge our bosom, with technology or without technology.

If we see grace as confined to "saved" Christian communities, does that mean that we are unsaved as we deal with what America does to immigrants?

In attacking the theology of Father Michael Baxter, C.S.C., Professor Walshe is attacking that of Dorothy Day and of the Houston Catholic Worker. Stanley Hauerwas is not a Catholic Worker. We ask you not to talk about him when you are really attacking the Catholic Worker.

Liberals tend to feel that they have done enough for the poor by criticizing other people and do not find it necessary to give up all and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Fr. Baxter has at least made a step in this direction by taking a vow of poverty. Perhaps we all could imitate him in giving up our worldly goods and then we could really work toward liberation from a position of authenticity.