Wednesday 17th August 2022

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Economics, American Ideologies, And Catholic Social Teaching

January 17, 2020 Frontpage No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. 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. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and a lawyer. Among his books are: Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism; The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; Catholicism and American Political Ideologies, and a Catholic political novel, American Cincinnatus.)

+ + +

Jane Clark Scharl wrote an article in Crisis in December 2019 discussing how the Republican Party has moved away from an extreme notion of capitalism — of economic freedom — that characterized it in the past and so is now more in line with Catholic teaching. She suggested that this is a result of the Trump presidency. She is correct in her assessment about the Republican Party, but this development predates Trump.
It was apparent in the principles and policy positions set forth by the Republican Party in 2012, the year that Mitt Romney was its presidential candidate — even if, as she mentioned, he didn’t identify with them.
In two books, 25 years apart, I examined how American liberalism and conservatism measured up to Catholic social teaching as enunciated in the papal encyclicals. In those books, I looked at how each of the major American political ideologies conformed to or contrasted with that teaching both on basic political philosophy and in major public issue areas. Regarding the former, I considered the thought of representative thinkers and commentators of each ideology, and on the latter I examined particular national party platforms that were reputed to be especially liberal (for the Democrats) and especially conservative (for the Republicans).
I determined which ideology was closer to Catholic social teaching in each of the areas examined and then came to a conclusion about which ideology overall was closer to the teaching. My first book, in 1991, examined the ideologies from World War II until then, which meant that two versions of liberalism had to be looked at — that before the late 1960s and that after then (what Catholic historian James Hitchcock called the “old” and the “new” liberalism). After the 1960s, liberalism distinctly moved to the left. What my analysis showed was that conservatism was closest to Catholic social teaching, but just slightly more so than the old liberalism. The new liberalism was far behind.
In my 2017 book, Catholicism and American Political Ideologies, I undertook the same evaluation of the two ideologies in the new millennium. The old liberalism by then was long gone. Serious Catholics would not be surprised to learn that my analysis showed that conservatism was clearly closer to the Church than today’s leftist, ultra-secular liberalism.
To evaluate millennial conservatism’s thinking on public policy questions, I chose to look at the 2012 Republican platform. This was because it was reported that Republican insiders who had been involved in drafting previous platforms said it was actually, up to then, the most conservative in the party’s history. This was despite the fact that candidate Romney was not conservative (he apparently had very limited influence on shaping the platform).
What I concluded by looking at the various platform provisions — the conservative platform was a good representation of the thinking of American conservatism generally on current public policy questions — was that on economics and social welfare policy (and also the other issues areas I examined), while not without drawbacks, conservatism could be judged to essentially agree with the principles of Catholic social teaching. This meant, of course, that the Republican Party conformed, since platforms state the principles of a political party. (To be sure, I concluded — by examining the distinctly liberal 2012 Democratic Party platform — that on economics and social welfare policy current liberalism also conformed to Catholic social teaching, despite its deviation from Church teaching in so many other areas.)
This contrasted with my analysis in 1991, which showed that conservatism then — and, implicitly, the Republican Party, as its platforms were also my source on public policy for that earlier study — conformed less than either version of liberalism (i.e., pre- and post-1960s) to Catholic social teaching on economics and social welfare policy.
Looking at the points in the 2012 platform in comparison to papal teaching readily shows why I came to the conclusion I did. The platform unsurprisingly commends the free market as the path to job growth and prosperity for all. While the Church has always supported economic freedom within moral limits, John Paul II particularly commended the virtues of the market economy. While the platform stresses the value of competition in economic matters, there is no indication that it sees competition as the be-all-and-end-all without any restraint whatsoever. That is the notion of competition the Church rejects. Moreover, strongly embracing the norm of competition could be viewed as a way to stop economic domination by a small number — which is something the Church also opposes.
The encyclicals have stressed the need to ensure employment. By stressing job growth, the platform shows it agrees. By the way, the Church has never said that the state is obliged to actually provide jobs for people but just that it has a role to help avoid unemployment. The platform opposed the Obama administration’s extension of unemployment benefits to three and a-half years. It didn’t oppose unemployment compensation, but the fact that such a long term could be excessive (and perhaps a disincentive to people to seek work). Here, we can recall Paul VI in Populorum Progressio saying that indolence should not be encouraged. Further, as far as employment is concerned, the platform favors “family-friendly options” in the workplace. That sounds like it is solicitous of the concerns the Popes have in saying that employment demands must be attentive to the family needs and situations of workers. It even encourages employee stock-ownership arrangements and, in general, private property being owned by more people.
While the Popes haven’t specifically endorsed the employee stock-ownership idea, it conforms to their stress on employee participation in their enterprises and various Catholic thinkers have touted it. The Popes have emphasized more people becoming owners of property.
The platform is critical of “excessive taxation and regulation.” Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum rejected excessive taxation as an unjust violation of the right of private property. John Paul II and Benedict XVI both spoke about the problems of bureaucracy which is what comes to mind when excessive regulation is mentioned. The platform stresses cooperation as the norm for worker-management relations, something repeatedly sounded by the encyclicals. It calls for attention to the needs of the agricultural sector, which rings of Mater et Magistra. It even wants to assist the family farm, which Popes John XXIII and Francis expressed support for.
While the platform’s support for a national right to work law may be interpreted by some as anti-worker, it could be viewed simply as a way to stop excessive power by unions — whose leadership sometimes has been criticized as being increasingly out of touch with the everyday workers they represent. The platform also criticizes unions for encouraging confrontation instead of cooperation between workers and management and singles unions out for violating labor laws. It does not give any indication it opposes the labor laws themselves.
On balance, the platform is skeptical of unions while historically they — or at least the right to form them — has been supported by the Church. Perhaps this is one of the weak spots for the Republican Party — and conservatism — from the Church’s standpoint.
A question might also be raised about the platform’s explicit support for free trade — Populorum Progressio says that free trade must give way to the demands of social justice — but it’s clear that it doesn’t embrace it outright in practice. It speaks about trade agreements — which by their definition means that trade is carried out according to agreed-upon conditions — and points to the need to make adjustments in trade relations with countries like China. It also agrees with Benedict XVI about the adverse effects of “outsourcing” (although it sees different causes for them).
When it comes to social welfare policy, the platform supports all of the major federal social welfare programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. It just wants them to be reformed and put in better fiscal shape. It thinks that the Food Stamp and similar programs would better be administered at the state level. That could be said to show a concern about subsidiarity, which is one of the central principles of Catholic social teaching.

Increased Momentum

Again, on economics and social welfare policy the thinking of conservatism and the Republican Party (as seen in the 2012 platform), to quote my book, “conforms pretty well to Catholic social teaching.”
So, the Republican Party’s closeness to Catholic social teaching on economics, while it has certainly undergone an evolution, did not begin with the Trump candidacy and presidency.
One can only speculate as to the reasons for this change. It could be due to more Catholic presence and influence in the Republican Party; or the fact that now Republicans are increasingly representing working class, lower middle class, and rural constituencies in Congress; or that as the party sheds its classical liberal past (that is, some version of laissez-faire) it gets more in touch with the principles of conservatism at its best, which in many respects are close to Catholic social teaching; or other factors.
Perhaps, though, the Trump presidency has given this new direction increased momentum.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

This Past Week in The Wanderer . . .

">

Are We Blundering into a Military Conflict with China? The Left Wants to Abolish Everything . . . The House Just Voted to Abolish and Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act!

Today . . .

Toyota Sponsors Lesson on ‘First Steps’ of Drag Artistry for Children

Toyota sponsored an event for “LGBTQ+ Youth” that featured a performance from a drag performer and a workshop on “the first steps of becoming a fabulous drag performer.” The event, called “Models of Pride,” was hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and was intended for those 24 years and younger. No minimum age was listed on the website. The Los Angeles LGBT Center described it as “the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth…Continue Reading

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Signs Abortion Ban to Protect Unborn Babies

The Indiana legislature has become the first in the nation to pass an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The measure went to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed the bill into law almost immediately on Friday night. Earlier today, the Indiana state House approved a bill to ban most abortions and tonight the state Senate voted to confirm the changes to the initial bill 28-19. With Holcomb’s signature, the law will go…Continue Reading

Southern Maryland parish forbidden to offer traditional Latin Mass after investing in quarter million dollar renovation and decoration for the purpose

Nightmare and heartbreak. Parishioners of Saint Francis de Sales in Benedict, Maryland, devoted to the Church’s traditional worship, installed a new pine floor, painted altars and gradines, hung chandeliers and lamps, and painted a monumental mural. And more. After an extensive professional renovation and painting of the church’s entire 100-year-old plaster interior walls and ceiling. 

Bishop urges Catholic educators to see importance of the Eucharist

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Addressing Catholic educators at an annual national conference, Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, urged them to make sure their work was always rooted in the importance of the Eucharist. The bishop, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, said schoolteachers should help their students more deeply appreciate the sacrament amid the current National Eucharistic Revival.

” A Misunderstanding” ?BISHOPS WILL ALLOW LESBIAN TO FOSTER A CHILD

From The Washington Post:  An unmarried lesbian will be allowed to foster a child after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) let a lawsuit alleging discrimination go unchallenged, suggesting single LGBTQ adults may be able to foster through Catholic organizations while same-sex couples generally continue to be banned.

Bloodlust

By CINDY PASLAWSKI Back when my husband was in boot camp in early 1970, his group of draftees was being trained for combat. Bayonet practice was particularly onerous to him. With every thrust, the guys were told to yell, “To kill! To kill!”The anti-Roe v Wade privacy decision protests swirling continuously around our nation remind…Continue Reading

1 In 10 U.S. Households In 2019 Worth More Than $1.3 Million

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY Ten percent of the households in this country at the end of 2019 — just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — had a net wealth of more than $1.3 million, according to a report published last month by the Census Bureau.There were also definite patterns among households that had higher wealth…Continue Reading

The FBI Doesn’t Seem To Care Enough To Explain Their Trump Raid

By NEIL PATEL From the moment Donald Trump came down the escalator to formally step onto the political stage, America’s leading establishment figures have misjudged what was happening. Most still refuse to think deeply about what drove such massive popularity for Trump. Some of it was his focus on issues, such as extended wars in…Continue Reading

“The Viruses Among Us”

By BARBARA SIMPSON Have you grown tired of it yet? The news — radio, TV, print, Internet, and whatever else there might be — has been filled lately with information about and warnings against the monkeypox virus.To read what is being reported, you would think that monkeypox is the only virus that humans have to…Continue Reading

Who Won The Taiwan War Games?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied White House signals that she not stop in Taiwan on her valedictory tour of Asian capitals, she ignited the worst diplomatic U.S.-China row in decades.And how did last week’s collision turn out for the United States?Writes The New York Times:Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan began…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

You Can’t Take It With You… But You Can Send It On Ahead

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on July 30 and it is reprinted here with permission. Because of the essay’s length, we are presenting it in two parts. The first part appeared in last week’s issue.) + + The Illusion of Wealth — The parable goes on to say, And [the man]…Continue Reading

Least Of The Least

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21Heb. 12:5-7, 11-13Luke 13:22-30 At the end of the Gospel reading today our Lord says something that is simultaneously hopeful and terrifying. He tells us that some who are first will be last and some who are last will be first. For those of us who more…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium (n. 36) says that Latin is to be preserved in the Roman Rite, and it goes on to say that the people should be taught to sing or say in Latin the parts of the Mass pertaining to them. So, is there anything wrong with softly saying those parts of the Mass in…Continue Reading

The Freedom To Be Catholic

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK News of my parish’s imminent demise in the wake of the death-dealing Traditionis custodes has spread through the Internet and at least one Catholic video news source of the independent sort. Many of the so-called “official” sources like to pretend we don’t exist.One news outlet used a video of mine about a transgender children’s story…Continue Reading

You Can’t Take It With You… But You Can Send It On Ahead

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on July 30 and it is reprinted here with permission. Because of the essay’s length, we are presenting it in two parts. The second part will appear in next week’s issue.) + + Five teachings on wealth from the Gospel of the 18th Sunday of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese Of The Little Flower

By DEB PIROCH “Let us accept all from the hand of our good Father, and He will keep us in peace in the midst of the greatest disasters of this world, which pass away like shadows. In proportion to our abandonment and confidence in God will our lives be holy and tranquil. And where this abandonment is neglected, there can…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Michael, Slayer Of Dragons

By DEB PIROCH Where there is evil, there is the Devil, and where there is good, there is God. It is high time for the world to make this connection in an era when the family unit is rapidly dying, leading to all sorts of destruction. Some children don’t even know their parents, angry teens engage in gang violence, and…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)