Three excellent pieces, today, all making the very excellent and true argument that Catholics cannot really be labeled and pigeonholed into political and ideological caricatures, no matter how desperately the media (and too often Catholics themselves, of each other) try to do it.
First up, Father Robert Barron looks at Paul Ryan and says, he’s neither the social menace or the knight in shining armor that partisans want you to believe:
In its social teaching, this same sort of “bi-polar extremism” is on display. Solidarity? The Church is all for it. Subsidiarity? The Church couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it. Not one or the other, nor some bland compromise between the two, but both, advocated with equal vigor. I think it would be wise for everyone to keep this peculiarly Catholic balance in mind as the debate over Paul Ryan’s policies unfolds.
Right behind him comes Joanne McPortland who picks up Barron’s thread and then strangles NPR with it:
…it was the arrogance of pundits determining “what kind of Catholicism is really the appropriate one for American life” that riled me. Excuse me, Professor, but even if there were different kinds of Catholicism (red Catholics and blue Catholics, identified at parish registration?), determining which one is “most appropriate for American life” is not up for a vote. FirstAmendment FirstAmendment FirstAmendment. (Not that anybody pays much attention to that old chestnut.)
The more I stewed in my rile, though, the more I recognized what really made me angry is the ease by which we Catholics have allowed ourselves to be reduced to this kind of stereotyping—and then played against one another as a consequence. “Social justice Catholic” (“the side of Catholicism that says take care of the poor and the oppressed”). “Family values Catholic” (“the side of Catholicism that says no to abortion”). These are not just handy MSM memes. They are, increasingly and frighteningly, the labels we ourselves pick up and apply to our lapels, our bumper stickers, and our minds.
I read the piece cheering, and wishing I’d have written it, and you’ll want to read it all.
Then came this Sarah Babbs:
I do try to represent the truth of all Church social teachings in my writing. I am equally opposed to abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war (both nuclear and otherwise), human trafficking, and unjust conditions for workers and immigrants. I know that some issues are more important than others, but none are unimportant or can justly be ignored.
What seems shocking to me is just how few Catholics I’ve encountered who share this view. What seems shocking to me is that anyone wouldn’t want to be a “Dorothy Day Catholic”. This servant of God devoted her life to prayer, attending Mass daily, saying the rosary daily, and frequently spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. She devoted her life to doing the works of mercy, the very things which Our Lord himself says will determine if we are sheep or goats before Him. Who among us would not want to imitate her example?
There was a time in my life when people would ask me my political affiliation, and I said, “Democrat.” Then, later, they asked, and I said, “Republican.” Next time they asked, I said, “I’m not registered with either party. Now, when they ask, I say, “Catholic.” I don’t live up to it as well as I’d like to, but I do notice that each year, I feel more and more compelled away from the partisan stuff, and finding it more repellent. Considering my extremely liberal beginnings and my conservative overcorrection, clearly my pendulum is still settling down.
I like this from Sarah:
God led me though. From a contraception using, Planned Parenthood supporting, “progressive” Catholic, to an NFP practicing, Crisis Pregnancy Center supporting, “Dorothy Day” Catholic. The Holy Spirit blew my heart wide open, because I was humble enough to admit that maybe, just possibly, I did not know more than 2,000 years of consistent teaching from the Church. All it took was that small concession, and a grudging acceptance that perhaps I should be more familiar with what it was I was rejecting, which the Spirit used to show me that even though there are things I can disagree with the Church about, I trust Her enough to not want to.
Maybe if we all trusted the church a little more, we’d trust each other a bit more, too.
UPDATE: Hmmm, this does seem to be the topic of the day. Read William McGurn in the WSJ