Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Here we are again at a moment of clarity and concinnity — or what should be. It may be a happy accident that Hillsdale is presenting its three-week course, A Land of Hope, at the same time the nation is taking part in another great cultural “unsettling,” or it may be intentional. In either case, unless you’re already learned in the American founding, this is an overview worth your “shelter-in-place” time.
I mention it because I’m feeling small-p protestant sentiments about the American Catholic bishops about now, most eloquently expressed in an article at CRISIS Magazine by Peter Maurice titled, ‘Catholic Democrat’ is an Oxymoron.
“As he was closing the narthex doors, I asked his take on the corona virus, not yet a “national emergency.” He replied. . . Well, the virus was one thing, but what really worried Father K. were ‘the Democratic Party disease and the Chinese disease.’”
Detractors . . . might misconstrue “Chinese disease” as an ethnic slur. They would err. Father K. has no simple-minded prejudices, but he knows what any adult has no excuse for not knowing. Like all communist states, the Chinese hate and persecute Christianity. The “disease” is godless ideology, not ethnicity.
Just so with the Democratic Party disease: it has its own godless ideology.
Maurice goes on to compare Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s (Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) admiration of China as the nation that best fulfills the Church’s social doctrine to the Catholic diocesan press’s (and, presumably, its bishops) support for the Democratic Party’s social programs. The bishops seem loath to risk the 40 percent of the USCCB’s budget provided by politicians by pointing out that the Party of Death’s social programs immiserate people (see Cuba, Venezuela), steal the dignity of work and family, cause people to live in effluence (East Germany, China) harming the planet, stifle dissenting opinions (“climate deniers”) … not to mention being in conflict with anti-socialist social teachings promulgated by, for instance, Pope Saint John Paul II.
How much safer it is to focus on the party’s concern for the climate and migrants, and not raise a stink about the “preeminent” life issue that is now Trump’s by default. Thus, under the USCCB’s “Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines During Election Season,” we encounter this insufferably high-minded brag: The Church does not and will not engage in partisanship. She will exhibit no bias for or against any party. Thus, even when Agent Orange addresses in person the March for Life, or cuts the allowance of Planned Parenthood, he isn’t accorded the honor of a pun, let alone an approving editorial. This on the one hand/on the other hand balance tips the scales in favor of the party of death.
Maurice shockingly notes that a third of the US Bishops’ conference does not list life as the preeminent issue for Catholics discerning how to vote. One presumes this includes Blase Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Robert McElroy, who “found such language foreign to the ‘magisterium’ of Pope Francis.” They’re wrong about that (Pope Francis says it is the preeminent issue) and they’re wrong to separate Pope Francis’s “magisterium” from continuity with the 2,000-year Magisterium of the Church. Inexcusably, the Faithful Citizenship media doesn’t even mention the Church’s preeminent anti-abortion stance. No wonder about 50 percent of Catholics vote Democrat every election. If “clarity were common, the Catholic vote might be a reality to be feared and courted.”
There are questions that would tax the ability of the subtlest casuist to resolve. This isn’t one of them. Some things are in their nature mutually exclusive. A red card can’t be a king; a vegetarian can’t be a cannibal; oil and water won’t mix. So let’s not complicate it overmuch. You may either describe yourself as a “devout Catholic” or enable the party that promotes abortion, same-sex marriage, gender anarchy, and the descent into paganism of post-Christian America. It’s not a head-scratcher. Only one party has a passion for this degraded ideology. It’s not the stupid party, weak and feckless as it sometimes is.
As Bertie Wooster advised the would-be fascist dictator Sir Roderick Spode, some things remain stubbornly either or. Spode, with his brown shirt and funny mustache, aspires to be a fascist dictator. But his other passion, unbeknownst to his storm troopers, is designing lingerie. No, no, my dear Spode, cautions Bertie every time the strongman snaps his stiff salute, You really must choose. One or the other, not both. We’ve come to a strange pass when we need to look to Bertie rather than our bishops for such clarity.
“The Democrat disease is godless ideology,” or as Klavan describes, the idolatry of “isms,” such as progressivism. It should go without saying that abortion is a graver immoral than restrictive immigration policy or “climate change” concerns. It is self-evident, to quote Thomas Jefferson, that free societies such as the US dramatically improve the environmental conditions under which people live. Compare East and West Germany before unification. Compare China and its unbreathable air and disease breeding wet markets to any city in the US — even LA! Market economies serve the common good. Conflicting ideas can be harnessed to that purpose under our American system of separated, limited powers and enshrined sovereignty of the people in a system of self-rule of, by, and for the people.
Yes, many of the founding ideals are universal to humankind, which is what makes the American experiment so profound and exceptional. But, the government instituted to protect our natural and civil rights must be held accountable to the people of this great land — not the entire world. It must serve our interests and protect our rights first and in common with our fellow citizens, not by picking winners and losers — not by favoring some victim group or another. This is the social compact we’ve agreed to.
When Fr. K speaks of the Democrat illness, this is what he means. The sickness that has afflicted the Democrat Party that pits it in a battle to the death with these founding principles.
I can count the number of times I’ve heard the pro-life message from the pulpit on half of one hand. But, the USCCB and Pope Francis constantly natter on about the need to welcome the stranger and steward the planet. About how “we” (by which they mean free and prosperous peoples) have neglected the poor.
Well, your excellencies, if we are to believe every person is created by God in His image and likeness, is intended for heaven, and has a role to play in the salvation of the world, it would seem not killing inconvenient, unwanted people would come first. When “climate change” (sneer quotes warranted) and immigration policy have equal moral weight to God-created people — and, honestly, we all know these other concerns are vastly greater to Democrats — how are we to distinguish the bishops from garden variety progressives?
The American founding had a Protestant flavor because it was skeptical of the inherited wisdom of the (primarily Anglo) culture from which it emanated. If Catholics are “protesting” the confused moral message coming from the USCCB, it is because of these chestless and, frankly, brainless bishops who refuse to see the lies told by Democrat ideology and the truth that it was for freedom that Christ set us free.
God bless America, God save the Church from confused and confusing shepherds, and God bless us everyone.Published in