Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Monday, April 06, 2009

Damascus Road Cafeteria and Gas

On Faux News Sunday this week, Chris Wallace asked Newt Gingrich about his recent conversion to Roman Catholicism. Did you see it?

I wouldn't want to question anyone else's faith, and won't do so here. The twice divorced Gingrich may indeed have embraced Catholicism. He assured Wallace that he had complied with Church law regarding the divorces, etc., and I'm sure that he did--not that I really care. That's his business.

But Wallace didn't ask about all the key areas where Gingrich's views diverge so radically from the Church's--the war in Iraq, social welfare, foreign aid, etc.

In U.S. conservative circles, it seems more and more that the RC Church is about one issue--abortion.

Again, I don't mean to question the sincerity of anyone's views. But it seems strange that Gingrich--who earlier in the same interview was essentially calling for preemptive strikes against North Korea--has embraced the Church's views on war and peace issues. It seems doubly strange that he wouldn't be asked about it.

When Democratic Catholic pols are pro-choice, that's an issue. Then diverging from Church doctrine is a political issue. Being a cafeteria Catholic matters, for some reason I can never quite figure out . . . and, like I said, I don't care myself whether pols share the orthodox views of their nominal faith. That's their business, except when it becomes a political issue.

But when a pro-life Catholic pol disagrees with the Pope about something like the, say, the Iraq war. Not an issue. It doesn't matter, at least not very much. No one gets denied communion because they believe in preventative war.

Now, I understand that there is a political dimension here. The reason that being pro-choice matters is that there is a vocal pro-life movement, both within and outside the Church, that makes a ruckus about it. To the extent that there is an antiwar movement, it makes less noise. My sense is that this is almost all there is to the explanation.

But is there just a bit more?

Is it that, for some reason, what the Church says about abortion (or euthanasia, or other similar issues) is somehow different from other issues on which the Church takes positions--poverty, for example. Is it that, for some reason, the Church's views on economic policy, or foreign affairs, carry less weight in the discourse, than in what could be defined as "morality." As in, what we generally call "social issues"? That on those issues, one cannot pick and choose. But that on others, one can.

Is that where the discourse is at? How did we ever get here?


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Nice post. One other point well worth mentioning is that non-American Roman Catholics who live in other parts of the world are generally defined more by their stance on peace, poverty, social justice, etc. (i.e., the real "gospel"); and these non-Americans are shocked and shake their heads in disbelief when they see that in America pro-war politicians are still embraced by priests and bishops after they spout their hawkish views in the mainstream media, whereas pro-choice or pro-gay politicians often are not.


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