Compelling arguments for Catholic point of view
Re: “Election lessons” (God Lives, Dec. 2)
Msgr. Owen Campion was spot-on in his assessment that elections are simply a reflection of our deeper culture. If we want a government friendly to faith, we have to have a society friendly to faith, and that requires talking about issues in terms that resonate with wider society. We need to talk in practical terms:
1) We currently abort one-sixth to one-fifth of our future domestic-born workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs each year. That is a recipe for economic stagnation and an insolvent retirement system.
2) This fight over the HHS contraceptive mandate has been framed as one of religious freedom, but there are actually two arguments more compelling to secular society. First, World Health Organization lists estrogen-progestogen contraceptives as a known carcinogen. Second, every dollar we spend subsidizing the lifestyle choices of employed adults is one we do not spend covering actual disease.
3) We tend to oppose same-sex marriage as “against Scripture and tradition” and “redefining an institution that has been present for millennia,” to which proponents automatically reply, “Why should that determine the civil, legal definition of marriage?” The reason is that society’s only interest in bestowing marriage is to reinforce couples that might procreate and raise society’s future. All opposite-gender couples serve as a model of the adult heterosexual relationships that 90 percent of children will eventually have. Conferring marriage on same-sex couples that can offer neither means the state is now in the business of licensing peoples’ emotional attachments.
In short, God did not give us traditional morality just as a series of hoops for the attainment of heaven, but so that society can function healthily in the here and now.
— Bryan Kirchoff, St. Louis, Mo.
Not up for debate
I was very disappointed to read in Msgr. Campion’s recent column a repeat of the familiar canard that both “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics alike can take a “cafeteria” approach to Catholic doctrine, citing as an example some pro-life Catholics who can be “lukewarm” about public policies designed to relieve the chronically poor among us.
There are implications here that 1) the Democratic Party’s policies toward the poor are more consistent with Catholic doctrine than those of the other party, and 2) policies toward the poor are equal in importance to policies in defense of human life at conception (not to mention policies defending the orthodox Christian position on marriage and the family).
I think our bishops have been very clear in drawing a distinction between the two. Catholics of good will can disagree as to what mix of government policies may be most beneficial to the poor, but there can be no disagreement on the sanctity of human life.
While there is undoubtedly a useful role that government can and does play in the alleviation of suffering due to chronic poverty, in view of the steady encroachment of a vast secular bureaucratic state distinctly hostile to bedrock Christian values, I am personally a bit nervous about a greater role for the federal government in our lives. However, I can readily understand the potential pitfalls of unfettered capitalism from a Catholic perspective, and these are legitimate issues for Catholics to debate.
Where there can be no debate among Catholics are the issues of abortion, contraception, and the sanctity of marriage. There are no “liberal” or “conservative” Catholic positions on these issues. There is only the orthodoxy or dissent.
— Steven Neyer, Maple Glen, Pa.
The New Orleans way
Re: “Meatless Fridays” (Spectator, Nov. 25).
You would not believe the Spartan fare that abstemious Catholics in New Orleans had to settle for on Fridays, back in the old days, when what we really wanted was a bologna sandwich. Instead of hitting the drive-up window at the corner McDonald’s, we had to spend three or four self-abnegating hours ingesting boiled seafood, seafood gumbo and crawfish bisque, plus fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, softshell crabs and frog legs. Giving up a Happy Meal just for that was tough, but we did it in the spirit of sacrifice.
Seriously, it wasn’t hard at all — we couldn’t wait for Fridays — but still, it was a nice tradition that tied us all together. It would be nice to bring it back.
— F.R. Duplantier, St. Louis, Mo.
Setting an example
Re: “Time for taking stock” (Editorial, Nov. 25).
Thank you for taking a particularly prudent view of the recent election. I think Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s remarks to the bishops’ meeting echo your views and say what the faithful need to hear. To paraphrase, “Bishops need to undergo their own conversion and renewal ... what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong with the Church is not politics, secularism or particular governments ... it is us.”
Our bishops need to set an example for the faithful. Through our evangelization, witness and prayer, we will change the world. Not through the ballot box. Jesus was strongly apolitical; why isn’t the Church following his example?
— Marcia Gabriel Fox, Harrisburg, Pa.