Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do "Republicans Have a Pope Francis Problem"?

Consider what Catholic moral theologian Charles Carmosy, of Fordham University, has to say, here.


Perry, Michael | Permalink


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"If Democrats could embrace Pope Francis’ connection between social justice for the poor and equal protection of the laws for our prenatal children, they could finish the GOP for a generation."

Funny thing about the Democrats, like the GOP, are also a party of rich elites rent seeking to the detriment of the poor and middle class. The real question to ask is, do American elites have a Catholic problem?

Posted by: CK | Mar 20, 2013 4:35:56 PM

Well said, CK (though we should insert caveats about "not all Democrats" and "not all Republicans", etc.). While no one can doubt Charlie Camosy's principled embrace of nonviolence and solidarity, I think the notion that the Democratic Party is, in any deep way, similarly committed is misplaced. Each party (no surprise) serves primarily the interests of those who are its primary financial supporters, whether that's the Chamber or the unions. The Democratic Party will not -- and almost certainly not ever -- be operationally pro-life, notwithstanding the number of Democrats who identify as pro-life. It could not afford to.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Mar 20, 2013 4:43:31 PM

Professor Perry:
Charles Camosy’s joyous anticipation of the demise of the Republican Party is not fact-based as anyone who closely follows politics knows. If you must post about politics I suggest you consult knowledgeable political analysts – the kind who understand that the party that holds 30 governorships and controls – and will continue to control - the House of Representatives, and that has a far stronger bench of 2016 candidates than the Democratic Party is not about to disappear. See e.g. “GOP has power where it counts: the states” by Roland Martin, CNN Contributor, March 18, 2013

But lack of knowledge and objectivity in political analysis is not Professor Camosy’s only deficiency. The following statement by Camosy indicates blindness in regard to the significance to Pope Francis of the “right to choose abortion”:

“The pope is radically suspicious of the libertarian approach to “autonomy” and “choice”—especially when it ends up hurting the vulnerable and opening the way for violence. For Pope Francis, to no one’s surprise, this includes suspicion of the right to choose abortion.”

Seriously? The Pope’s position can characterized as mere “suspicion” of the right to choose abortion?

The fact is, Pope Francis may or may not have opinions regarding anti-poverty policies with which many Republicans disagree, but such disagreement will be largely a matter of prudential judgment about what policies are best for the poor. See e.g. “The Pope and the Poor, A Jesuit reflects on the new pontificate and the problem of poverty” by James V. Schall, S.J., 3/18/13

On the other hand, liberals and committed members of the party that worships at the altar of abortion rights and bizarrely regards belief in traditional marriage as “homophobic, will find that they have far more than mere differences in prudential judgment with the new Pope as a result of teachings such as this:

“(A joint statement of the bishops of Latin America … ) which the new Pope presented on behalf of his colleagues (in 2007) and signed of on, referred to abortion and communion, said ‘we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.’ ”

“Archbishop Bergoglio said then that ‘the most mentioned word in the Aparecida Document is ‘life’, because the Church is very conscious of the fact that the cheapest thing in Latin America, the thing with the lowest price, is life.’”

“New Pope Francis Called Abortion the ‘Death Penalty for the Unborn;”

Posted by: Michael J. Kelly | Mar 20, 2013 5:43:15 PM

I have to admit, a sudden rash of pro-life democrats would probably cause an enormous amount of damage to the Republican party. Though this seems rather unlikely, it's not unthinkable.

Professor Garnett, why do you think it would be so difficult for the Democrats to go "operationally pro-life"?

Posted by: Nick | Mar 20, 2013 5:54:36 PM

Would this "sudden rash of pro-life democrats" ride into office on unicorns?

Posted by: Mike | Mar 20, 2013 7:42:12 PM

They are 30% of the Dem party...with or without unicorns...and growing. Unlike many conservatives, they are actually willing to stick their neck out for big government involvement in life issues. Of course, in 2010 Republicans replaced many of them with candidates who (once again) honored the pro-life movement with their lips--but their small government hearts remain far from prepared to do what is necessary to truly protect the unborn.

Posted by: Charlie | Mar 20, 2013 8:32:30 PM

Charlie, terms like "big government," and even "Democrat" or "Republican," like all American political categories, have absolutely no relevance or provide any illumination to Catholic Social Thought. It would be like assessing major league baseball by first looking for a 24-second clock, and then a first down marker followed by a cricket bat.

My understanding of CST--and admittedly, I am no expert--is that it a brief against Enlightenment and modernist understandings of man, which means that human dignity, rather than the self, is the starting point of rights, and that the family and the Church, rather than the expert and the state, are the starting points of authority. To be sure, this is a stumbling block to the Rothbardians and foolishness to the Marxists.

Posted by: Francis J. Beckwith | Mar 20, 2013 8:42:22 PM

Francis, you are (generally) right about what you say, but you make my point for me. CST has no bias against or for big or small government. You simply need to have a government capable of protecting and supporting the common good with a preference for the most vulnerable...period. A government which protects prenatal human life would have to be very, very large and intrusive, and the small-government heart of most conservatives just doesn't allow them to do what is required by CST in defense and support of vulnerable populations.

Posted by: Charlie | Mar 20, 2013 9:03:47 PM

Who knows what libertarianism lurks in the hearts of congressional Republicans? Charlie knows.

Posted by: Mike | Mar 20, 2013 9:11:57 PM

"The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need." Deus caritas est.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Mar 20, 2013 9:22:37 PM

"CST has no bias against or for big or small government."

The problem is that modern government is Hobbesian to the core, and thus we need to put extreme limits on if not eliminate such a Leviathan. I think this can be reconciled with CST.

Posted by: CK | Mar 21, 2013 9:52:17 AM