It is interesting seeing the headlines the media is using in covering President Bush’s speech today at the Knights of Columbus 122nd Convocation in Dallas. Most of the headlines are like this one Bush Woos Catholics on Conservative Theme. The coverage is almost totally on the list of pro-life achievements that he delineated in his speech. While Pres. Bush did cover topics considered conservative by the media he also talked more about topics usually considered the domain of Democrats. Some examples are.
Pope John Paul II has been a unique and commanding voice for the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the outcast. He has challenged our nation, and the entire world, to embrace the culture of life. He’s called upon us to uphold and affirm the dignity of every person, rich and poor, able and disabled, born and unborn. He’s called us to love and serve our neighbors in need. Few organizations have worked harder and done more and met this challenge than the Knights of Columbus. (Applause.) I know you’re proud of your organization, and you should be.
Last year, the Knights raised and donated a record $130 million to charity. That’s a phenomenal record. (Applause.) You also volunteered for an unprecedented 61 million hours of community service. (Applause.) You obviously have heard the call.
…I was pleased to hear this story about the Knights in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the Mother Teresa Day Shelter. They’re a daily presence there — they’re mopping the floors, collecting laundry soap, blankets, and food for 130 homeless men and women. They’re not giving the orders, they’re serving the people. Patricia Henry, the shelter director, put it this way: "If I need help, I just give the Knights a call." (Applause.) Such a powerful example. Americans across this great land know that they can do the same, that they can serve our country by helping someone in need.
…We’re grateful for your service to the men and women in uniform and to our nation’s veterans. You’ve sent hundreds of thousands of prayer books to those working to make our country more secure and to bring freedom in parts of the world that are desperate for freedom. You bring comfort and strength to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. I want to thank you for taking time to visit our wounded and disabled veterans, for providing comfort to their families, to give them a word of thanks.
…See, you’re — the Knights are soldiers in the armies of compassion. You’re foot soldiers. You’ve heard the call. You’re helping this nation build a culture of life in which the sick are comforted, the aged are honored, the immigrant is welcomed, and the weak and vulnerable are never overlooked. (Applause.) You have a friend in this administration. You have somebody who wants to work with you to change America for the better.
…Because we measure, we know that now more minority children are learning to read at grade level, and that’s good for America. I want to thank the Knights — (applause) — I want to thank the Knights for their help in helping low-income parents in Washington, D.C. escape from schools — have their children escape from schools that will not teach and will not change. Because of the work of the Knights of Columbus, and other concerned citizens in our Nation’s Capital, poor parents now have a choice. They’ll have a $7,500 scholarship so they can afford to send their school — their child to a private school or parochial school, their choice to make.
…I want to work with the Knights for reasonable and compassionate immigration reform, to bring good, hardworking people out of the shadows of American life, and to ensure that America is always a welcoming nation. I recognize, like you recognize, that amidst the great prosperity of America, amongst our great wealth, there are pockets of despair in this country, and we’ve got to do something about it. We must address despair so America is hopeful for every single person.
…Government can hand out money, and of course, there will be arguments whether we’re handing out enough or not. But what government can never do is put love in a person’s heart, or a sense of purpose in a person’s life. You see, in order to heal — help the lonely, it works every time when a loving soul puts their arm around and says, what can I do to help you; how can I help you in your life; what can I do to make your life better. Many are called by God to do so, and government must stand on the side of those millions of acts of mercy and kindness that take place on a daily basis.
…I’ll tell you another program that’s important is to help the addict, is to help the person so stuck on drugs that they can’t realize the great human potential that God has given them, and they need desperate help. I believe that some counseling programs work, no question about it. But I also know programs that change the heart work. When a person changes their heart, they change their habits. Government is not good at changing hearts. The Almighty God is good at changing hearts — (applause) — which happens to be the cornerstone of effective faith-based programs. And therefore, when it comes to spending federal money to help addicts, I’ve asked the Congress, and the Congress has agreed to allow us to use vouchers to go to the person who is seeking help. That person can use that voucher at any kind of program he or she chooses, including faith-based programs to help heal hearts and save lives.
I think "Government is not good at changing hearts." nails my views on the matter. The safety net imposed by the government soon becomes an all-embracing cocoon of reliance and dependence. The human connection is lost behind a wall of desks. Love of neighbor and the preferential love for the poor requires not a vote for increased funding but personal involvement through prayer and action. Groups like the KoC are a model for what can be done. The intentions of social government programs never achieve their goal. Where is the exit strategy on the war on poverty? If we don’t touch the poor how can we be touched by the poor. Charity through taxation is a sterile environment that lets us get off by saying "I gave at the office."