Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A political blog for Catholics (and everyone else)

This blog is dedicated to examining politics through the lens of Catholic teaching, and—as you may have deduced from the blog's name—with a somewhat liberal bent. In large part, it is a response to politically conservative Catholics, who are often the loudest voices in this sphere. Particularly troublesome are those that go so far as to harshly condemn not only Catholic politicians who are pro-choice, but also any Catholic who votes for such a candidate—even if that vote is in spite of that candidate’s abortion stance, and not at all because of it. Before the 2008 election, for example, numerous priests and bishops warned (sometimes implicitly, but in some instances explicitly) of eternal damnation for Catholics voting for Barack Obama, whatever their motivations. This is a deeply unfortunate and, I would suggest, indefensible position.
   I believe that the richness of Catholic doctrine must indeed inform the voting of all serious Catholics. However, the myopic and judgmental views described above are beneath the respectful, nurturing character an authentic Christian discourse deserves. What is often lacking from the discussion within right wing circles is an appreciation for some very serious issues that should not be written off by anyone claiming to follow Jesus Christ—or common sense.
  Of course these same authorities that view abortion as the fundamental political issue do admit some other issues to the top tier of consideration: gay marriage (or "protecting marriage"), embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. Other issues—war, immigration, the death penalty, the environment—that seem to conflict with Republican orthodoxy are usually brushed aside, perhaps because they are not fully understood (I will address these arguments in greater depth in the future.).
   My primary contentions regarding Catholics' political participation are these:
     1) Modern politics, like modern life/society, is incredibly complex, with myriad issues having a profound impact on the common good.
     2) Impassioned but respectful arguments regarding the way our values should shape our participation in the complex political realm are of great value.
     3) No one should seek certainty that they have voted as God would vote (see Contention #1), but should instead vote in a deeply conscientious way.
     4) It is genuine concern for the common good that defines a "vote of good conscience".
   The reason I've included the phrase "and everyone else" in this post's title is that I believe the above principles apply to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Voting is a moral responsibility for all, whether one is Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, or Atheist. The principles of Catholic dogma most germane to politics—respect for life, a deep concern for justice, stewardship for the environment—appeal to a broad swath of conscientious people. I hope my contribution is inclusive and insightful enough to be interesting to many (or at least a few).

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