Priorities Inside the “Catholic Vote” Bubble
Here is a short video from Catholic Vote (the people who endorsed Sharon Angle). It is basically a top ten list, the “top 10 reasons for hope in 2010”. Good title, lousy content. Check the list for yourself. You will find a mix of insignificant, and offensive. It’s basically a view into the mind of the right-wing American Catholic bubble, which is a fully contained subset of the broader American right-wing bubble. I’ll give a quick run down after the jump.
10. Mother Teresa stamps. OK, a nice gesture, but – with all the problems in the world – is this really significant? Strangely parochial.
9. Tea party and subsidiarity. OK, we’re automatically in the offensive zone. Claiming that the tea party philosophy is aligned with a Catholic understanding of subsidiarity is the biggest distortion of Catholic teaching since Mark Thiessen used just war teaching to defend torture, or Nancy Pelosi mis-stated the teaching on abortion. Fundamentally, subsidiarity is all about letting human dignity flourish by creating the space for social relations to take place at the most personal level. It is meaningless when stripped away from solidarity. It has nothing to do with low taxes, minimal regulation, or low spending. In the economic sphere, solidarity calls for government intervention in certain core areas (such as determining working conditions and support for the unemployed), while subsidiarity calls for the government to create favorable conditions for the common good to flourish. That, by the way, means correcting the problems that come with the free market. This was patently clear to Pius XI, the intellectual architect of subsidiarity, when he railed against the injustice created by unregulated large corporations, especially in the financial sector. Properly understood, subsidiarity provides a bulwark against both the centralizing tendencies of socialist collectivism, and the decentralizing tendencies of the free market. As Pius XI put it, the “economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces” – the “poisoned spring” of the “evil individualistic spirit”. This is the spirit of the tea party.
8. Voters, bishops, defend marriage. Really? Are we talking about really defending marriage? If so, then where is the attack on the rampant divorce culture?
7. Pope’s visit to England. I thought this trip was great, but does it rank as a great sign of hope? Personally, I thought the consecration of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was a bigger milestone. But OK, let’s be fair and give them this one.
6. Commercials celebrate life. I don’t understand this. I don’t watch commercials.
5. Taxpayers against abortion funding. This is tired old ground by now. There is no taxpayer funding of abortion in the Affordable Care Act. It’s there in plain English. True, they refrained from codifying the Hyde Amendment into law, so I guess we will have to use the standard that has operated just fine for the past 30 years or so. But Catholic Vote doesn’t care about cases where taxpayer money can be used to subsidize the purchase of private healthcare that might include abortion – Medicare Advantage, FSA FEDS, the COBRA extension in the stimulus bill. Neither do they seem to care about the inability of the average person with employer-based insurance (the vast majority of people) to pay for an option that does not include abortion. But as we all know by now, the abortion funding was a cover for their real concern – an ideological opposition to the government trying to secure universal healthcare (a right under Catholic social teaching) through a combination of an individual mandate and direct subsidies for the purchase of private plans. Yes, Catholic Vote was one of the main culprits in this obfuscation. And this nonsense about a “government take-over of health care” has been named as the “lie of the year” – pretty impressive in the current culture of political slime. One more point: the Affordable Care Act is fully aligned with subsidiarity – it gives people the ability to provide health care for their families directly, and takes away the ability of the large impersonal insurance bureaucracy to deny them care.
4. Cardinal Burke and USCCB Bishop Dolan. I have no problem with Dolan, but what exactly is his election supposed to signify? As for Burke, this is cardinal who has zero pastoral responsibility for any United States diocese, or indeed, any diocese anywhere in the world. Strangely omitted is Cardinal Wuerl, who takes precisely the opposite view of Burke on the issue that endears Burke to the Catholic Vote cohort. And yet Wuerl has pastoral responsibility for the nation’s capital. And incidentally, since we are on the consistory, I could also praise some of the other new cardinals. How about Cardinal Reinhart Marx of Munich, a leading expert on Catholic social teaching who has strongly denounced the liberal tendencies that undergird economic life in the United States? How about Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, an activist on justice and peace, and co-president of Pax Christi International? How about Cardinal Medardo Mazombwe of Lusaka, who lobbies for trade justice, improved aid packages for poor countries, and debt relief? Surely these are all greater signs of hope? It was a great consistory. I was there.
3. Sisters on Oprah. I have no idea what this means. I understand Oprah is popular with women of a certain generation, and the clip shows her talking to some nuns, but…the number 3 reason for hope???
2. Rescue of the Chilean miners. I concur with this wholeheartedly. Finally, they get something right!
1. Election 2010. This deserves a separate post (or essay, or book!). I think it is now patently clear that the over-riding objective of the electoral victors is the upward distribution of wealth and a reduction in the government’s role in the economy. In furtherance of that aim, they are willing to sacrifice many items of policy that are strongly supported by the Church – income security for the unemployed, the Dream Act, the START treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenal…and even a bill to fight forced child marriages. And this is only in the first few weeks after the election. A very strange sign of hope.