Which party wrote “Faithful Citizenship”?

by | Nov 14, 2011 | Justice and Peace

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) “results indicate that few Catholics were aware of or used (the US Bishops) Faithful Citizenship in 2008. It’s a shame because it is an extraordinary comprehensive statement of the Church’s teachings and positions on social and political issues. Recently re-released with a new introduction this document will again vie for Catholics’ attention in 2012. Although it is by no means meant to be a voting guide or checklist I do think it provides for an interesting hypothetical test for Catholic voters.

Is there a catholic middle ground between Republic and Democrat?
“The research blog for CARA  frames this question in the context of  Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s blog  earlier this year. “We bishops get both blessed and blasted, a friend or foe of bloggers, pundits, and politicians, depending on what the issue is.”
One side usually blesses us when we preach the virtue of fiscal responsibility, the civil rights of the unborn, the danger of government-tampering with the definition of marriage, and the principle of subsidiarityYet this same side then often cringes when we defend workers, speak on behalf of the rights of the undocumented immigrant, and remind government of the moral imperative to protect the poor.
The other side enjoys quoting us when we extol universal health care, question the death penalty, demand that every budget and program be assessed on whether it will help or hurt those in need, encourage international aid, and promote the principle of solidarity …… and then these same folks bristle when we defend the rights of parents in education, those of the baby in the womb and grandma on her death bed, insist that America is at her best when people of faith have a respected voice in the public square, defend traditional marriage, and remind government that it has no right to intrude in Church affairs, but does have the obligation to protect the rights of conscience.’
As Archbishop Dolan describes (and as Faithful Citizenship reads), the U.S. Bishops and the Church are stuck between the two parties. Some of the Church’s stances can be found in the Democrat’s platform and others in the Republican’s platform as shown in the conceptual figure below. But really instead of being “stuck” in the middle, the Faithful Citizenship position (which might be most consistent with a Christian Democrat approach) is more conceptually about 90 degrees from either the Democrats or Republicans.
After a thoughtful reflection about the possibilities of third party similar to “Christian Democrats” found in  Europe and Latin America, Christian Democrats have been in positions that would most often be considered center-right or center-left the writer of the blog concludes…”No party is perfect and of course both the Democrats and Republicans have had their fair share of similar problems. Finally, note (as mentioned elsewhere) I am a man without a party or a vote by choice. As a political scientist (and prior to that as a news reporter) I have chosen to be entirely detached from the political system and aspire to be as objective as I can. I am not registered to vote, I don’t have tea parties or occupy things, and I do not affiliate as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, Fascist, Monarchist, etc. Nor am I (in the european sense) a Christian Democrat (i.e., it’s just not possible… yet!).”
Reflection:
  • Most of us in the United States will be faced with practical choices in a few short weeks. (But there may very well be striking similarities in Canada, Australia and other English speaking countries.
  • Is there a Vincentian way of looking at the above issues?

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