Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Liberal Catholics: Enemy of My Enemy?
I’m feeling a little glimmer of hope after reading an article entitled “Obamacare vs. The Catholics” by Jonathan V. Last of The Weekly Standard.
Politically, I’m not particularly astute, and what may be obvious to some (or even most!) is seldom obvious to me. I had been assuming that the bishops’ hue and cry against the HHS contraception mandate – while certainly justified, and certainly appreciated by many “conservative” Catholics – would fall on deaf ears amongst the more “liberal” Catholic crowd. They are, after all, a) not using contraception; b) supporting contraception use by anyone who chooses it; and c) all about “social justice” issues.
But in his article, Mr. Last points out that being all about “social justice” issues is exactly what is making “liberal” Catholics rise up in panic and dismay at the latest anti-Catholic move of the Obama administration. He writes (my emphases):
…Obama has left Catholic organizations a very narrow set of options. (1) They may truckle to the government's mandate, in violation of their beliefs. (2) They may cease providing health insurance to their employees altogether, though this would incur significant financial penalties under Obamacare. (The church seems unlikely to obtain any of Nancy Pelosi's golden waivers.) Or (3) they may simply shut down. There is precedent for this final option. In 2006, Boston's Catholic Charities closed its adoption service – one of the most successful in the nation – after Massachusetts law required that the organization must place children in same-sex households.
Which means that what is actually on the block are precisely the kind of social-justice services — education, health care, and aid to the needy — that liberal Catholics believe to be the most vital works of the church. For conservative Catholics, Obama merely confirmed their darkest suspicions; for liberals, it was a betrayal in full.
I don’t really think that reasons (1) and (2) in the above excerpt are what the “liberals” care about – they only become the excuses needed to shore up the Church’s right to continue to provide the social services already in full force.
But reason (3) would certainly be significant; indeed, shutting down Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities would be a blow to a large segment of society. Even if Catholic hospitals aren’t really Catholic, they are still Catholic hospitals doing good works for many people of many different faiths. Even if Catholic schools, colleges, and universities are not really Catholic, they are still Catholic schools doing good works for many people of different faiths. Even if Catholic human services agencies are not really Catholic, they are still…you get the picture.
So, these institutions are important to society, and they are near and dear to the hearts of the “social justice” Catholics. This is why, as Mr. Last puts it, “The liberal Catholic establishment nearly exploded” when the HHS mandate was announced. Sister Carol Keehan, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, and a couple of Catholic reporters who champion left-leaning causes within the Church, all joined in with the bishops’ call to arms. Says Last:
…The editors of the Jesuit magazine America denounced a "wrong decision," while the Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne called the policy "unconscionable." When you've lost even E.J. and the Jesuits, you've lost the church.
In other words, maybe some good can come of that “justice and peace” mindset that almost-but-not-quite reflects Church teaching: it could lead to a withdrawal of support for the president too many Catholics voted for last time.
Maybe it’s a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The rift in the Catholic Church in the US seems to me like a pretty big one, and it sometimes seems to make enemies of people who are nominally in the same Church. For instance, the “justice and peace” folks just never seem to include the unborn in their efforts to promote social justice, and that is incomprehensible to the pro-life folks. They also seem to want to defend the right to be wrong –very wrong – of people espousing (and living) immoral lifestyles, which again goes against the dignity of human life. The current “justice and peace” movement in the Church seems more like “justice in pieces”, to use the words of Stephanie Block, who has been educating us on ACORN, Alinsky, and Obama for years (see a 2008 article by Stephanie Block in the Catholic Culture library, and a 2011 article about CCHD fraud here).
The “justice and peace” crowd voted for Obama, but it looks like there’s hope (heh heh!) that they will abandon him in the next election. As Thomas Peters puts it, Obama now has a problem:
When your top liberal Catholic apologist, Doug Kmiec, withdraws his support of you — you’ve got a problem.
When, for that matter, practically every notable Catholic who has ever supported you withdraws their support of you — you’ve got a problem…
When the Catholic nun who helped you pass Obamacare tells you this needs to be fixed — you’ve got a problem…
And when Vice President Joe Biden realizes there’s nothing he can say to excuse this decision — then, Mr. President, you’ve really got a problem.
Yep. The enemy of my enemy just might vote against him in November.
Oh please God, let it be so!