Friday, November 08, 2002

In the past months I think that I've been careful not transpose observations about the Catholic blogging community to the wider Catholic Church. However, I do think it represents to a substantial degree, U.S. Catholic conservatism. I've found the reaction to the election very interesting and somewhat revealing in general. I don't understand why the pro-life issue has become the solely relevant political issue and all I can link it to is a conservative ideology and less to Catholicity, I think. There seems to be an all out embrace of the Republican party and open disdain for the Democratic party, even though neither party is sufficient to Catholic concerns and both in fact are necessary to address Catholic concerns.

The one thing that I am interested in knowing is the income level and "class" in general of Catholic pro-life advocates. I say this because I suspect that these are people who have enough to eat and a decent roof over their heads and are fairly comfortable. I suspect that Catholics who live under difficult conditions would still be as pro-life but less sanguine about the Republican parties and definitely would not cast their lot with the Republican party.

The Catholic pro-life agenda does not exist in a vacuum, it is rather a subset issue of the wider issue of social justice. But what I observe is that many conservative Catholics are less than enthused about social justice issues, but become live wires when it comes to abortion.

The fact is the issue of alleviating poverty

issue of welfare reform, education and such like are high on the Bishops' agenda. (I think the education focus is suspect because the Bishops' interest is to push Catholic schools which has positive financial implications. I haven't necessarily seen a mannifest concern for public schools by the Bishops.). The fact is that equally important issues form the political fabric of orthodox Catholic life and one must be careful not to let certain aspects suffer at the expense of others. For instance, with the Republican sweep, TANF which provides assistance for needy families, which is due for reauthorization, may very well be dead. Again, this was a bill the Bishops were very concerned about.

I don't think that all is lost, because 51/52 majority still demands significant compromise in the Senate. Also Bush's advisors are politically savy and realize that majorities are unstable and can backfire if one leans to far in one direction, so we can expect them to compromise some . . . but not much, in fact, probably very little.

On the radio yesterday, I was listening as a lobbyist for business was drooling about what they are going to push for with this new Republican majority and I almost had a heart attack. There was a laundry list which showed absolute disdain for the common good. What floored me was when he said that they were going to work to relax environmental standards . . . is this crazy or what? We all need clean air, we all need clean water, we all need to revitalize our rivers, bays and lakes which are dying due to industrial waste pollution.

I don't pretend that the Democratic party would be better for the country, but the answer is both parties and perhaps more. If Dems won all three branches, like they did in 1992, I would be uncomfortable. There is nothing quite so sinister as unchecked power (such as the Catholic hierarchy has, but that's a different discussion).


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