Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I think Winters and I agree about more than (perhaps) he thinks. The main point of my reply (or, what I intended to be my main point, even if I failed to make it well) is that the following two positions are different: (A) “The Church teaches X, but I am not willing to work to have the laws reflect X, because the norms of liberal democracy require that I not do so” (the Cuomo position), and (B) “The Church teaches that X, and – in my view – the best way to operationalize X is different from what left-leaning Catholics, and even, say, the USCCB, say is the best way" (the position that I think better describes most "Catholic conservatives'" views with respect to social-welfare, taxation, spending, and economic policy).
Winters and I agree (I think) that (A) and (B) are different, and that (B) is not appropriately characterized as reflecting “cafeteria” Catholicism.
We also agree (I think) that there are (inter alia) two other groups: (i) liberals who say “the Church teaches X, but the Church is wrong, but I’m still a good Catholic” (the Pelosi position with respect to many "life" and "social" issues) and (ii) conservatives who say the same thing (let's say the Santorum position with respect to immigration and torture). Where he and I appear to disagree (I think) is here: He puts some people in (ii) whom I would put in (B). That is, I think (B) is where most "Catholic conservatives" are, and Winters appears to think that most are in (ii).
We also agree, by the way, that (B) has boundaries, and that responsible, informed, engaged, reflective citizenship will rule out some operationalizations of the Church's social doctrine. I think, though, that when it comes to economics, taxation, spending, the design of social-welfare programs, not very many proposed operationalizations are ruled out, and that not all (or even most) of the ones that are ruled out are "conservative" ones. But (unfortunately), some of the core, unquestioned, unquestionable policy commitments, regarding "life" and "social issues," of today's political left are ruled out (and it is not a defense of the left to this charge to point out, as Gibson did, that (ii), above, is a non-empty set).