This is part of why I keep insisting that conservative (of the Tradition, I mean, not of American Movement “Conservatism”) Catholics should drop their fetishistic support for GOP shibboleths like the death penalty, gun zealotry, opposition to a living wage, support for torture, international bellicosity, contempt for refugees, and a host of other junk that they say is negotiable and “prudential” but, by their actions, show are absolutely non-negotiable core values while using the unborn as human shields to rationalize such commitments. There is nothing in the Catholic Tradition binding conservatives to such commitments and plenty urging them to drop such commitments. That’s why Francis scares them so badly.
But Francis, precisely because he (like his predecessors) *does* recognize the full-orbed teaching of the Church on the dignity of all human life and therefore does grant the Left’s points on such matters (and others), makes it extremely hard for the Left to get away with its blind spots and rejections of the Church’s teaching that sound too much like Movement Conservatism for the average Reporter reader. He speak and lives their lingo, and so has leverage to urge them to be consistent. Only Nixon can go to China.
Now the conservative fear, of course, is that if you grant an inch to the Catholic Left, you will somehow be cheated. You will concede something and they will concede nothing. But this is silly. You aren’t granting anything to the Catholic Left. You are granting that you will listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through the Magisterium, even when it makes you feel uncomfortable because He sounds like a leftist to your fallen ear. And when you do that, guess what? You will be a more obedient Catholic, while the Catholic who hides behind the accusation that opponents of abortion are all a pack of hypocrites suddenly has no place to hide and is himself shown to be a hypocrite. You lose your life and find it, now being in a position (as Francis already is) to demand concessions from the Left if they do not, themselves, want to be embarrassed by their hypocrisy.
Francis’ message is simple and oh-so-hard: Be consistent. Be Catholic.
Let’s do it. We can, you know.