Catholic Politics, More Charitable & a Little Softer

Catholic Politics, More Charitable & a Little Softer December 22, 2014

A contribution to the description of a movement among politically conservative Catholics I described in two columns for Aleteia, Free Market Catholics Are Losing Their Faith (in Capitalism) and The New Catholic Economics, National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru explaining to a reviewer for the Jesuit weekly America that “I aspire to put ‘Catholic’ before ‘conservative’ in my life.”

“I would say that Catholicism has made me a little softer in my politics,” he says in the interview.

Since becoming Christian, I’ve tried harder to be charitable, deleting first drafts that aren’t charitable. I don’t know if I always succeed, but I didn’t do much of that at all before my conversion. I think Catholicism influences a lot of what I do. You know, I don’t think there’s a Catholic answer to the way tax policies should be. But I do think that the flourishing of families is a very important focus of my politics, and that does influence the way I come at everything from taxes and higher education to health care and the life issues

It has also changed my position on the death penalty. I do think opposition to the death penalty is rationally correct, but I don’t think it would be my position if I hadn’t become a Catholic. I was pro-life with respect to abortion before I became a Catholic, but I was not pro-life with respect to the death penalty. With that aside, I don’t think it’s changed many of my positions, but it’s changed the way I think about a number of issues.

There is some tension between American conservatives and Catholicism on the death penalty and immigration, he goes on to say. I think there’s a greater tension than that, especially as American conservatism has been infected by libertarianism, but that’s a subject for another time.

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