Thursday, June 28, 2018

Partisan Fights

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Trump administration issue an immigration policy which was roundly denounced by the US bishops. In response, a certain faction of Catholics responded with “what about abortion?” The other day, Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. This was seen as a chance to overturn the inherently unjust Roe v. Wade. But a certain faction of Catholics responded with “we should focus on other policies that make less people seek out abortions.” A little bit of digging showed that these two factions strongly identified with one of the two major parties—generally showing that their stance was more partisan than principled.

Now I don’t intend to indict all Catholics under this aegis. I do encounter Catholics (notably, our bishops) who recognize that the Right to Life covers from conception to natural death and all stages in between. Recognizing and following the Catholic teaching means we will be at odds with our party of choice at least some of the time, and we must be willing to face our own party and say: No, you are wrong!

But instead of doing that, people are saying “Oh, the Democrats/Republicans aren’t as bad as those Republicans/Democrats! These issues you worry about aren’t as important as those issues!” That is partisan. That is being willing to sacrifice part of Catholic teaching when it goes against our political preferences.

What we need to realize is twofold:
  1. We must work to oppose legalized abortion.
  2. We cannot stop with opposing legalized abortion.
As St. John Paul II taught (Christifidelis Laici #38):

In other words, we absolutely cannot downplay the defense of life in favor of other issues—even though the other issues are also important in the eyes of the Church. 

But that being said, we cannot use his words to deny our obligation to work for justice on other issues. Our Lord Himself taught about what will happen to those who ignore the “least of these.”

So, both the person who denies the need to oppose abortion and the person who denies that we need to concern ourselves with the other issues are doing wrong. We cannot turn our backs in the name of “other issues” without being hypocrites.

I think the problem is people fall into the either-or fallacy. We think that the two positions are “support us” and “support everything evil our worst opponents stand for.” It over looks the possibility of rejecting the extremes or choosing a third option. This is how the Church gets attacked as being “liberal” by conservatives and “conservative” by liberals. Because people cannot conceive of the possibility they are wrong in part, they assume everyone who disagrees must be wrong.

We see the result of this. Look at how many Catholics argue that they need to take control of the Church from those who oppose them—assuming that the magisterium is being partisan while they are being unbiased. In fact it is the reverse. If we will not listen to the Church when Our Lord made it necessary (Luke 10:16, Matthew 18:17), we are not keeping His commandments (John 14:15). 

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