Deneen on the Catholic Neo-Conservative Division

Deneen on the Catholic Neo-Conservative Division July 26, 2014

Catholic neo-conservatives, explains Patrick Deneen in an interview on Ethika Politika (on whose board both of us serve) “have tended . . . to read the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics to be inviolable, but Catholic social teachings regarding economics to be a set of broad and even vague guidelines.” . . . [M]any Catholics of the stripe we are discussing are strenuous in their insistence that, on the one hand, the public square should not be stripped of religion and morality, but that the Market should have a wardrobe like that of Lady Godiva.”

He argues that this position reflects in part the political needs of American conservatism and the rewards for those who meet those needs, and that the failure to address economics rightly weakens the Catholic witness on the life issues. Then:

 Catholics don’t properly think and act as Catholics if we treat these spheres as if they were autonomous and unrelated; indeed, it seems to me that basic economic arrangements that privilege individual autonomy, materialism, mobility at the expense of community, and an “amoral” market significantly and inescapably contribute to our comprehensively “disposable society” (using Pope Francis’s description of, among other things, our abortion regime).

Only when we see similar energy demanding reforms of our economic system in the name not of equalization of outcome, but the telos of human flourishing, will we likely see lots of different and interesting policy ideas of how to foster a more humane economy.  But at the moment we are told that the only two options that exist are largely unregulated markets and Statism, both of which Pope Leo XIII denounced in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum and which have been rejected as false alternatives by every subsequent Pope, including Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Much commended, of course.

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