Daily Archives: June 26, 2010

Does your Party Teach You, or Do You Teach Your Party?

Today, I was in a FB discussion with a blogger who was asking, apropros to Libertarians, Rand Paul, etc., what people thought the motives of the North were in the Civil War.

I made the point that the motives of the North in waging war against the South were not the same thing as the motives of the Republican party at the time, the motives of the people, etc.

Anyway, my friend said something to the effect of “That’s not what the Republican Party teaches,” and I replied, “What Magisterial authority does the Republican Party have?”

It struck me that this particular discussion hit at a common crux of debates I have with other conservative Catholics, and a problem many Catholics have when dealing with their faith in public life.

C. S. Lewis talks of Christianity “And”–where the cause becomes just as important as the Christianity, and then eventually Christianity becomes a tool to the cause. Indeed, certain movements that were notoriously condemned by the Church were condemned for this reason. Action Francaise was not condemned by the Church for its monarchist position–that was endorsed by the Church. The Church condemned Action Francaise in the early 20th Century because its leadership at the time (which was, oddly enough, atheist) claimed that the Church was a tool of monarchy, rather than the opposite.

Well, that kind of thing happens whenever a Catholic becomes too embroiled in any political movement. That Catholic may be perfectly orthodox, or 99% right. But there comes a point at which some people stop saying “The Church teaches X . .. “and saying they support the Party because the Church teaches X, and switch to saying, “The Party teaches X. . . .” And it isn’t long before it changes from
“I support the Party because the Church teaches X, and that position is in the party platform”
to
“I support the Church because the Party teaches it, and that position is in the Catechism.

As Catholics, we are called to deal with one another charitably in matters where the Church gives us freedom to decide for ourselves. As John Paul II explains in _Veritatis Splendor_, there is a difference between negative moral laws–which are always absolute prohibitions–and positive moral laws, which give some freedom to the individual to interpret *how much* he or she will implement those laws.

When the Church gives us freedom to discern, we can discuss with one another *what* the Church teaches, and *whether* we think a particular application is appropriate.

I am not bothered by other Catholics who take positions different than mine, so long as they are honestly taking the Church’s teachings into account. It is when I see those teachings intentionally obfuscated, or else subjugated to the State or (worse) the Party, I have a problem.

So when “just war” becomes “moral war,” or even “Just war doesn’t apply to this situation,” I take issue. When I am being judged on the basis of whether I conform to “Republican Party teaching,” I take issue.

Christ and His Church always come first.

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Great Lines from _A Man for All Seasons_: On the Kennedy Doctrine

The fictionalized St. Thomas More has the following statement for Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, the Kennedys, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Mitt Romney (a Mormon proponent of the Kennedy Doctrine):

I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

Liberal Catholic Footprints

I can’t remember where I read this recently, so I’m just writing my own variant.
A liberal Catholic was walking along the beach with the Lord,

And, as she walked, she saw images of her life pass by.

At the end of her journey, she turned and looked back at the footprints.

“Lord,” she observed, “as I look back on these footprints representing my life, I see Your footprints walking beside mine, but I notice that at times there are only set of footprints. . . .

Why is that, during the times I was dancing for You at Mass, singing folk hymns, voting for Democrats or sending money to Notre Dame, only one set of footprints appears?”

“My Dear Child,” the Lord said,
“It was at those times I tried to throw you into the ocean, but you kept coming back out!”