Friday, February 26, 2010

The coming exodus from politics?

I have been musing lately about the state of Catholics in politics. From the recent scandals surrounding the CCHD funding of pro-abortion and homosexual causes to the recent advocacy of torture by certain sectors of the Republican Party, I wonder if it would be prudent for Catholics to take a step back and reassess the current political makeup.

There was a time when a Catholic felt comfortable within the Democratic Party. The party's social justice platform on a lot of levels squared quite nicely with the Catholic social justice thought. Catholic bishops and priests marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King. The Church's history of advocacy for workers' rights during the Industrial Revolution again played into the politics of the time.

In the 60's however the Democratic Party embraced abortion as part of it's social justice framework. Rather than abandon the Party, several prominent Catholics abandoned the Faith, and several theologians and clergy aided this effort to create a rationalization for the abandonment of the right to life.

Since that time rifts opened between the social justice movement and the new and emerging pro-life movement. As the politics split on the abortion issue, so did the Catholic population. The social justice advocates abandoned their stance against abortion (or regulated it to the back burner), and the pro-life faction drifted toward the emerging conservative movement.

Over time the moral views of the factions drifted farther apart. The Catholic Left all but abandoned the sexual ethics of the Church in favor of social justice causes focused on the poor. The pro-life, pro-sexual ethics faction formed an uneasy alliance with the political conservatives. Often incorporating the small government movement with pro-life causes.

In more recent years under the Bush administration the issue of torture arose out of policies that came to light during the Iraq War. While some policies, such as retention in foreign countries that allowed for torture were nothing new, the public defense of policies such as waterboarding was a new phenomenon. The pro-life faction in large part ignored or defended the Bush Administration's policies.

Today the politics that have split the country down the middle have split the Church congregation as well. Social justice is pitted against pro-life. Solidarity vs. Subsidiarity. The right to health care vs. the right to live. Catholics are presented time and again with choosing one intrinsic evil vs. another, and trying to end one by supporting another, even indirectly.

It is time to reevaluate if the involvement in politics is worth the split that has resulted. What are the gains we've made? What have we lost? Were the gains worth it? Where do we go now? In an increasingly secular society that pushes a view of humanity that is twisted and false, the Church, clergy and laity, will need to reassess their own involvement in the realm of politics. "For what is it worth to gain the whole world, and lose your soul." There may come a point where we have to choose between our political rights and our souls. To choose to live in this world, or to choose to be faithful to God, and choose exile in the public sphere.

This is not to say to withdraw from society altogether. But that as the secular degradation progresses, we must be cautious in what we support, and vigilant in opposition to the intrinsic evils in this world. It is time I believe that the Church in America must reevaluate where we stand in regards to the current culture, and what we can do without cutting ourselves off from the Source of Life.

As it was said, "We are neither Democrats nor Republicans, we are monarchists." Remember that in all things we must surrender not to a Republic or a Despot, but our true King. He is the one we serve first.

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