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Just Catholic

Last week I added my own reflections on the Mirror of Justice blog discussion about being Catholic and Church authority. Greg Sisk has posted a very good addition to this thread of posts.

As fallen human beings, we will find ourselves thinking from time to time that our personal concept of law, society, culture, or politics is preferable to what the Magisterium appears to be teaching on that point. When we encounter such a conflict, we usually should regard it as an occasion to reconsider our temporal and secular position in the light of Church teaching. After all, the Deposit of the Faith was entrusted by Christ to the Apostles, not to the lawyers or the professors or the politicians or, for that matter, the theologians. No Shadow Magisterium exists within the universities or the courthouses or the market-places. When we face a challenge to our personal beliefs about life, law, and politics, we should ask whether our discomfort with Church teaching is attributable to our own selfish or ideological propensities, to our desire to be well-liked by our acquaintances, or to our temptation to conform to the spirit of the age.

After reading all of Professor Sisk’s entry, take a look at this piece by Mark Judge in the Washington Post:

On one side are the liberal Catholics, who specialize in social justice and the poor. They are in the tradition of Dorothy Day: critics of consumer capitalism and helpers of the poor, against war and nuclear weapons, champions of Vatican II, the 1960s council that sought to modernize the church. They read E.J. Dionne, the New York Times, Commonweal magazine. Homosexuality doesn't bother them, but the fact that the church will not allow female priests does.

On the other side are the conservatives. Willing to call Iraq a just war (with some cause I think), and pro-capitalist, they insist that Vatican in no way called for the changes that liberals assume. They watch EWTN - Mother Angelica's orthodox network - read First Things, join the pro-free market Acton Institute, and love Justices Scalia and Thomas. Most importantly, they are pro-life, noting that to be such is to be classically liberal: that the pro life cause is about social justice for the weak and vulnerable as much as the Civil Rights movement was.

So which would Sister Carol be?

The answer to that last question may surprise you. While there are Melkite Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, and Latin Rite Catholics, there is no such thing as a Liberal Catholic or a Conservative Catholic. There are just Catholics. However, it must also be understood that Catholics accept the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Those who set themselves up as loyal opposition to the teaching authority of the Magisterium are not Catholic, even if they choose to call themselves so. They are, by definition, Protestant. Liberal and conservative can fairly be used to describe how faithful Catholics apply Catholic teaching. A liberal may favor more government intervention in the aid of the poor or provision of health care. A conservative is just as concerned about the plight of the poor and access to health care but may favor a strategy involving less government intervention. Both views can be in line with Catholic teaching. The Magisterium has stated in multiple documents that we must be in solidarity with the poor but we must also respect the principle of subsidiarity—the help should be given at the lowest appropriate level. On the other hand, in dealing with abortion, both a politically liberal and a politically conservative faithful Catholic must state life begins at conception and ends at natural death, that abortion is a grave moral evil, and that the sanctity of life must be protected in all circumstances. A faithful Catholic, whether politically liberal or conservative, cannot support legalized abortion.


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