Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mixed Signals

Some of us on the Right are skeptical of the Church's instincts as it pertains to economic or political things. This is a matter of some exasperation for Church partisans. They can say, as Boethius does, "Look, the Church rejects socialism, the Church respects private property, the Church opposes class warfare. It says so right here in Rerum Novarum, written by the pope himself"

Well, our suspicions are not merely paranoia. Here's a couple of interesting links of back-and-forth from Rep. Joseph Kennedy and Abp. Dolan of New York (hat tip to the Corner). Note especially the words of Abp. Dolan: there's nothing in them that suggests any wavering on the traditional doctrines of the Church, in this case the prohibition against abortion. But, without explicitly agreeing, he seems to acquiesce to Rep. Kennedy's premise that of course we all support Democratic-sponsored health care reform once we can resolve these small side-issue dealbreakers.

Of course this ignores the multitude of problems with the various Democratic proposals that have nothing to do with abortion. So, statements such as Dolan's which I suggest are fairly typical are one step up and two steps back: the Church's doctrines are affirmed while at the same time seeming to place them in an improper or uncertain context and conceding too much to the Left on non-doctrinal issues.


Boethius said...

I was gratified recently to read Cardinal George arguing that the tendency for Catholics is to be a bishop-centered Church, rather than a Christ-centered Church. I've suggested in the past that this is a weakness in the arguments Koz makes in the areas of economics. I won't deny that certain bishops say this and that, and perhaps get it wrong, perhaps often. I believe that the bishops are in error if they belief that the Democratic health care goal is for the best of our nation. And I believe this precisely because I believe that this advocacy is unintentionally at odds with the actual Magisterium, and not because 'the Church' is wrong in its social doctrine. Hopefully, I will be able to prove that.

Koz said...

If there are problems with the bishop-centered Church, at least wrt health care, the faithful-centered Church is not bed of roses either.

Rep. Kennedy is among other things a member of the most prominent Catholic family in America, to the point where for a while the Kennedys were regarded as synonymous with American Catholicism. For some people Rep Kennedy is at least as authoritative in speaking with the Church as Abp Dolan anyway.

My problem with both of them is that trying to wrestle with a vague Magisterium seems to be the wrong approach. Let's figure out health care on its own, in secular terms, and work from there.

Boethius said...

I'm planning to work through these encyclicals as objectively as I can, just to see what they say. I think that the idea wrt to specific policies is that politicians and the political process should be considered to have more expertise than bishops; the role of the Magisterium is not to make plain what should or should not be done in particular instances, but to rule as out-of-bounds certain general possibilities. I think that we can say that socialism is out-of-bounds; I think that much of what passes for health care reform is socialism, plain and simple. I will read the Abp Dolan bit and see if that's what he is advocating.