How does Capitalism value people?
The heresy expressed in this letter is tied up with Capitalism, which isn’t exactly new. Our first recorded modern usage of the word dates from the middle of the 1800’s. For those who know the role of Blessed John Paul II in the decline of Communism, it might be a surprise the Church also believes Capitalism has it’s failures. It’s not often priests preach against the negative aspects of Capitalism (this is because there is so much else to talk about, not because priests as a whole are delinquent), but there certain condemned aspects. Mainly, Capitalism fails in terms of social justice. By focusing entirely upon accumulation of capital and market forces, and incorrect hierarchy of values is created. Instead of humans and God at the top of the value hierarchy, money and utility goes to the top. This is why the unknown author the the letter suggests the boy be euthanized and his body used for science. She sees the child as only good for how he can help society. She further critiques that no employer will hire the boy. In other words, he’s not productive for market forces. She even thinks the child is worth less because he won’t reproduce (“no normal girl is going to marry/love him”). From her perspective, he offers nothing to society but a drain on resources.
Contrast this with the Catholic notion that we were made for communion, and our being is good because it is in the image of God. The boy is of substance human, and only of accident autistic. He has communion with his family who loves him (hence the mom cried in talking about the letter to the reporter). The Catholic understanding is that we should all reach out to those in our communities like him, to ensure that his communion stays even when his family passes on. In this way, we place the highest value on fellowship with others, and what the boy costs the community isn’t such a big deal, but the fact that we have made a friend is what’s important. This shows the imprint of God upon us, giving money away and forging connections to others is what makes us happy. Capitalism disrupts this hierarchy of values imprinted upon our nature, and that value disruption can lead to nasty letters like the one shown in the news today.