I'm putting on hold the fourth part of my Male-only Priesthood posts... partly because I've been too busy to write this week, and partly because I came across a great article that expresses some thoughts that I have had about the upcoming election. The piece is posted over at The American Catholic site. The author conveys some ideas that I share concerning what's at stake for Catholics when faced with a choice between Mitt Romney or four more years of Obama. Here's an excerpt that nails it [Note that this election is not just about two men, but about two competing ideas or philosophies]:
I do not look at Romney as a man, but as a representative of the broad coalition of interests that support the GOP and resist the Democrats. I look at Obama in the same way, as a representative of an opposite coalition of interests that support the Democrats and resist the GOP. For better or worse, I believe the Church finds itself out of necessity in the GOP coalition.
The reason why is obvious. Put aside the academic policy debates for a moment. Put aside the debate over whether or not concern for the poor necessitates a confiscatory welfare regime, whether water-boarding is an intrinsic evil, whether being pro-life means being pro-subsidized single motherhood, or any of the other heated policy debates that politically-minded Catholics like to have. The reality is that the fate of the Church in the United States, which is not historically Catholic or majority Catholic, will necessarily be determined through a struggle of powers greater than itself.
On one side of the struggle is a coalition that respects the right of the Church to exist, even if it does not fully embrace all of her positions. On the other side of the struggle is a coalition that can barely conceal its violent hostility for the Church and is pursuing policies and programs that will have the practical effect of driving her out of public life. It isn’t my intention to make the hard case for that here, but most of us understand what the far-reaching implications of the HHS mandate will be. We understand that the kind of people who would propose and implement such a thing can be counted upon to press even further, especially when they no longer have an election to win. We are well within reason to label these people enemies.
As a matter of self-defense, then, we must work for the defeat of Obama this fall.
Read the whole article here.
And while I'm on the subject of the election, Paul Ryan's bishop, Robert Morlino, has written an open letter affirming that Mr. Ryan is indeed in good standing with the Church (contrary to many liberal Catholic accusations), and that as a public servant, Ryan has to the best of his abilities sought to craft policy that is fully in line with Catholic Social Justice teaching. Here's a link to an article at Catholic Online that explains more.
Bishop Morlino wrote in part:
As one looks at issues...and seeks to apply the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, Catholics and others of good will can arrive at different conclusions. These are conclusions about the best means to promote the preferential option for the poor, or the best means to reach a lower percentage of unemployment throughout our country. No one is contesting here anyone’s right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. Nor is anyone contesting someone’s right to work and so provide for self and family. However there can be difference according to how best to follow the principles which the Church offers.
Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles — that is, “lay mission” for Catholics.
Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)
An excellent defense of Mr. Ryan, and a wonderful example of a true shepherd caring for one of his flock. Read the whole letter here.