Tuesday, August 2, 2011

TFTD: Cafeteria Catholicism Isn't Only Liberal

Preliminary Note:

It is not my interest to defend Bishop Hubbard and claim everything in Albany is hunky-dory.  It is my interest in speaking out against what seems to be a growing distraction among Catholics seeking to be faithful to the Church – a distraction which seems to set aside Magisterial authority whenever one does not like the political implications of what is said.

Whenever Catholics judge a teaching from their political slant instead of judging a political view from Church teaching, there Catholics have lost their way.

Those of us who seek to be faithful to the teachings of the Church need to realize that dissent isn't something which only happens to others.  The Pharisees were pious men, seeking to be faithful to the teachings of the law, but their views were not in keeping with the holiness God calls us to.

I don't say any specific Catholic is guilty of this, but I do say all of us are obligated to examine our consciences daily and examine our political views to see if they are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

So any reader who thinks I am indicting any specific Catholic interprets me wrongly.

With Growing Concern

One thing the whole budget squabble brings home is that Cafeteria Catholicism isn't only a liberal thing.  Conservatives may not dissent over moral issues, but I think the issue of the social teachings of the Church are overlooked.  Moreover, I think that like liberals, conservatives also make use of the genetic fallacy, with both writing off the statement of a bishop because he is identified with a disliked political stance.

For example, Bishop Hubbard's July 26 statement to the House of Representatives is derided by some bloggers on the grounds that he is a liberal who did not act against Governor Cuomo in some of his public sins.  Maybe that accusation of liberalism is true, maybe it is not (one thing I've learned from the blogging experience is we don't always know what goes behind the scenes).  Either way, that does not mean his statement is false just because he is accused of being liberal. 

In fact, I find his three points to be in keeping with the Church teaching as a whole:

  1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
  2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
  3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.

In other words, budget cuts can't disproportionately affect those in need of our help.  If a cut will prevent those from receiving what is needed to survive, it is not a budget which protects human life and dignity.  I don't see anything in these points (or in the whole statement) which was not stated in Caritas in Veritate.

What we need to remember is this: There can be debate over what the best means are to be faithful to the social teaching of the Church.  There can't be debate over the Social Teaching of the Church.

We need to avoid the error of reductionism.  Just because socialistic programs in government may share certain points with the Catholic Social Teaching, it does not follow that the position spoken of by a Catholic Bishop is "nothing but" support for a socialistic program.

Now, I am not saying it is evil to be conservative (I'm sure most liberals would label me as one for example, and I think Obama's regime has been disastrous for the moral and religious state of this nation).

However, I am saying it is evil to ignore Church teaching on a subject.

Each person will have to look to the teaching of the Church and their own political views and see if there is a need for conversion .

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