says various common sense things like “it’s a step in the right direction”. Conservative Catholic heads explode. I wonder if there will be any “Hitler’s Pope” rhetoric trotted out from the Protestant or libertarian sectors of the gun lobby? I wonder how Catholics will respond if there is?
No. Rome’s remarks are not dogmatic. The Church almost never says anything dogmatic (including in Humanae Vitae, by the way.) And because of this, as Zippy Catholic points out, Lefties habitually invoke “primacy of conscience” and Righties habitually invoke “prudential judgment” as code for saying, “Who cares what the Church thinks? I’ll just ignore her when she says things I don’t like, unless she forces me to do otherwise with a dogmatic decree.” So Rome’s remarks will be duly blown off, explained away, or shouted down. What they will not be is *considered*, weighed, evaluated, pondered or, God forbid, allowed to sway anyone’s thinking.
In American Manichaean political discourse as it’s lived out in media and in comboxes all over the Web, the world is divided between (if you are a Rightie) fascistic gun grabbers eager to leave us naked and prostrate before an Islamic Communist Leviathan headed by HitlerStalinMao vs. a hardy band of freedom-loving patriots struggling to save the Real America, or (if you are a Lefty) rational, highly-evolved compassionate people who care about the earth and The Children and peace who only want what’s best for everybody vs. neanderthal violent misogynist trailer park dwellers clinging to guns and religion and eager to drag us back to racism, darkness, ignorance, and fear. It’s the War of the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light. Choose a side.
Catholic nuance only creates bafflement and confusion in a political culture like that. On the Right, the dark suspicion is, “How can the Church be *really* opposed to abortion when it lends aid and comfort to Obama by agreeing with something he has done? Unless the Church totally demonizes him in every way, how can it be truly Catholic?” Meanwhile, on the Left, the HuffPo combox dweller (who routinely take any remark out of Rome as the Pope’s personal edict for all mankind) writes, “His ‘tude towards guns, while appreciated by a person who embraces gun-control such as myself, is paled by his radical views on other subjects he publicly spews about.” In other words, “Benedict (who in fact said nothing about Obama’s gun measures) may have gotten something right here, but he is still the mortal enemy of all that is good and right and my rigid and unthinking ideological commitments demand that I go on hating him and the Catholic Church with undimmed passion.”
Gee it’s fun being Catholic in that atmosphere.
Update: Not at all hysterical members of gun lobby respond with measured, rational reaction.