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A Book Review… Despite Church’s Latitude In Judgment, Leftists Go Too Far

February 21, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

Catholicism and American Political Ideologies: Catholic Social Teaching, Liberalism, and Conservatism, by Stephen M. Krason, Hamilton Books, Lanham, Md., ISBN 978-0-7618-6977-1, 262 pages, hardback, $24.99, 2017. Available at amazon.com.

House Minority Leader and leftist Nancy Pelosi, of San Francisco, conducted another of her famous Democratic Party prayer services on February 7 on behalf of young illegal aliens, holding the floor for hours as she cited Bible passages, the very denominational Catholic rosary, and the helpful Catholic hierarchy. Saith Nancy: How about saying the rosary on the House floor?
Tellingly, the nearly 78-year-old Pelosi explained, for those who may not understand, that the rosary isn’t merely five decades of mysteries, but “the full rosary,” “15 decades of the rosary.”
Actually, practicing Catholics know that hasn’t been true since John Paul II made a little rosary history and proclaimed the addition of the five Luminous Mysteries in 2002, to join the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious, and bring the total decades to 20.
But by 2002 Pelosi presumably was operating on token remembrances from her girlhood orthodox Catholicism, when it still was possible to be both a faithful Catholic and Democrat. However, the evolved political Romanism that commands her loyalties these days doesn’t allow Popes, bishops, or faithful Church teaching to get in the way of a savagely secularized political party.
Imagine Pelosi or some kindred Catholic spirit like Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) proposing to recite the rosary or read Bible passages on the House floor to intercede against the moral crime of, say, massive permissive abortion or serious sexual disorientation. The Democrat Party’s shrieks would shake the heavens: Mixing Church and state! Imposing morality!
Democrats have developed a way of introducing their denominational religions into appeals to approve left-wing politics, even while expelling from consideration basic principles that plainly were acknowledged as a standard apolitical moral guide not so long ago.
Fortunately, Pelosi and her crew don’t seem to be fooling anyone beyond their elite political and media bubbles. Responding to online reporting of Pelosi’s latest political prayer meeting, numerous readers were quick to cite the glaring contradictions, prominently on supposedly devoutly following Church teaching but sending millions of preborn babies to a wicked death.
Without citing any religious teaching at all, one reader replied at Breitbart News: “I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t talk about how it is okay to rip a fetus apart limb from limb as means of income for Planned Parenthood.”
For those who think that Catholics’ fidelity to Church teaching actually is important in reaching conscientious political judgments, Stephen M. Krason, Ph.D., provides pertinent guidance in Catholicism and American Political Ideologies: Catholic Social Teaching, Liberalism, and Conservatism.
Krason is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He is co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and his column for Crisismagazine.com appears regularly in The Wanderer.
At the outset Krason makes plain: “Catholics and all serious religious believers know that political ideologies must not be the basis for their worldview; rather, the validity and worth of political ideas must be determined by the religious teachings they adhere to. . . . Ideologies must be evaluated against those teachings and not the other way around.”
The Church doesn’t pretend to have a detailed checklist about the moral desirability of every political itch, but principles count, although their application can vary.
Anyone who would claim there’s a moral mandate for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is reading from some Democrat media release, not Church authority. We, however, have the principle of the just wage, which isn’t the same wage for every worker regardless of age, location, or circumstance. But it certainly couldn’t mean 3 cents an hour, no matter the worker’s situation or state of residence in the 21st century.
And even some principles that seem clear today were up for debate even in the 19th century, Krason reports, citing recorded examples of Church leaders’ opposition to the antislavery cause and the labor movement.
The core of Christ’s teaching is about the salvation of souls for an eternity of bliss with God, not partisan political programs. But the Lord makes plain that right conduct on Earth leading to that bliss entails such acts as justice, mercy, and truth. Which might need to be expressed through political developments, but certainly through individual moral actions.
The basic point for Catholics to note about the role of the state, Krason writes, “is that the popes hold firmly that God must be acknowledged to be at the foundation of every political order, and that the state must act positively to protect and favor religion.”
This shouldn’t be a difficult premise for a traditionally grounded government to follow, even if non-Catholics predominate and don’t hew to papal authority. A problem arises, though, if government views religion hostilely, or itself as the replacement for religion. The 20th century provided such malign rulers as National Socialists and Communists. Even today the Communists of the Beijing government think themselves the ultimate authority over the Church.
In our Western world, the enmity often is based on aggressively secularist governments’ accurate recognition that sound traditional morality stands in the way of the sins they wish to impose on the populace, so, like any lawless ruler, they inflict their wretched will to the extent possible, and even then some.
To all appearances, the United States is no dictatorship — even despite leftists’ shrill cries against Donald Trump — but for nearly a half-century under leftists’ half-baked notions, U.S. law has sanctioned the mass slaughter of tens of millions of innocent human babies despite every attempt by the citizenry to resist. It helps that dominant mass media and other elitists freely spew numbing fantasies like clouds of octopus ink.
Krason fittingly makes plain that programs of both political conservatism and liberalism may have concurred with Church teaching. It’s not a case of good Democrats versus bad Republicans, as much as the Pelosis may prefer to think otherwise. However, a serious difficulty arises because of what has happened in recent decades with the “old liberalism” being replaced by leftism.
As has been observed more than once, the Democratic president of the early 1960s, John F. Kennedy, quite popular among liberals of his day, wouldn’t be at home — or even accepted — in today’s Democratic Party.
Noting at various points the movement of Catholics generally away from the Democratic Party, scholarly Krason finds that of the two current basic U.S. political ideologies, “conservatism is distinctly closer to Catholic social teaching than is liberalism. In fact, as noted, on certain basic areas liberalism is strongly in opposition” (p. 200).
Thus, he adds a few pages later (p. 204), “liberalism diverged more and more from both Catholic social teaching and the American Founding vision in the post-1960 period.”
At a time when leftists think that chanting “get your rosaries off my ovaries” is supposed to mean something or the other, we can only wonder what Nancy Pelosi’s rosaries are supposed to get off. All “15 decades” of them.
Krason’s careful analysis provides substance that Pelosi entirely lacks.
Noted in passing: Krason mentions Catholic historian James Hitchcock’s previous work on a few pages, but says nothing about Hitchcock’s grossly inaccurate book published in late 2016 that attacks The Wanderer including me, Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics. Hitchcock’s reputation actually is the one damaged by it.

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