|Politicians by Vladimir Makovsky, 1884|
Gretchen Crowe is correct to assert in a January 3rd Our Sunday Visitor editorial that it is not easy to find a presidential candidate whom a Catholic can support without reservations. Catholic Christian values do not neatly fit into political categories like Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal. However, I must take issue with Ms. Crowe's response of a wish list for her ideal candidate.
The problem with her list is that she includes a variety of issues and does not indicate that they have varying merits and weights. In her assessment, climate change is equal to defending the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. She lumps concern for the poor in with sanctity of life issues and I wonder if she is implying that the only solution to poverty is more federal government intervention. More federal money and more federal debt is often a short-sighted approach with limited success. We have been waging a federal "war on poverty" since Lyndon Johnson was president and have very little to show for it. It is a lazy and apathetic approach to put the onus on government to solve all societal ills.
Rather than looking for a president who perfectly embodies Catholic ideals, I am looking for a president who is compatible with my living as a faithful Catholic. He or she must respect the dignity of every person, believe in religious liberty and the free exercise of religion as opposed to just freedom of worship and the freedom to have a private religion and value the contributions of religion to public life. In other words, I need a president who will stay out of the way and let Catholics be Catholic. Once I stop expecting every candidate to be Catholic and focus on who will abide my being Catholic, the choices become much easier.