E.J. Dionne had an absolutely terrible piece in the Star yesterday, and I’m assuming other readers of other newspapers across the country were subjected to it as well.
As you may or may not be aware, Speaker of the House John Boehner was invited to give the commencement address at Catholic University of America. In the weeks leading up to his commencement, professors from Catholic colleges from across the country issued a letter decrying Catholic U’s choice of Boehner. The professors (most not even from theology departments) proceeded to lecture Boehner on his Catholicism, reminding him that the Apostles and the magisterium of the Church have always encouraged helping the poor, and that he has consistently voted against efforts to help the poor.
Dionne bemoans the fact that Catholics did not protest the choice of Boehner like they did when President Obama was tabbed to speak at Notre Dame in 2009.
The positive side to all of this is that it provides an excellent opportunity to distinguish between authentic Catholic teaching and heretical politicking.
AUTHENTIC CATHOLIC TEACHING: There is a hierarchy of truths because some teachings are more important than others. This is a quote from the Church’s teaching on Social Doctrine: “The FIRST right presented in this list is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights and, in particular, implies the illicitness of every form of procured abortion and of euthanasia.” How is that unclear? How many times does the Church have to say it? At the top of the list of rights is the right to life – and that means a guarantee that a person won’t be aborted or euthanized.
Dissentingly heretical Catholics love to create the picture that Catholicism in the modern political landscape is just a wash – some people are for keeping abortion legal and some hate poor people – it’s all just a wash. This is absolutely false.
What angers me about all of this is the fact that it is assumed that Boehner, (or any other conservative politician) because he/she doesn’t vote for a larger Welfare State with every vote, hates poor people. MANY people believe that a larger welfare state doesn’t necessarily mean more poor people are getting helped. I’m not here to argue policy – the point is that debate clearly has been taking place for the entire history of our country – do we provide more welfare assistance through the state, or do we let people keep more of their money and see to the poor themselves? Regardless, the Church doesn't teach that a politician ought always vote for a bigger welfare state. The Church, in its social teaching, says nothing about always needing to expand a welfare state. The statement in the letter from the profs that says “Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings” betrays a profound ignorance of the Church's social teaching.
What IS clear is that President Barack Obama has looked to expand abortion legality at every turn, and as a state legislator, voted in favor of letting children born in botched abortions die in the hospital room. How messed up is that? That is not something people “on both sides of the aisle” have gone back and forth on for a long time, nor is it something the Church has said people should go back and forth on.
Someone who, from a Catholic perspective, views not always voting for a larger welfare state as being on par with Obama’s abortion record has NO CLUE about Catholic doctrine.
My final comment: I love the fact that these professors and Dionne appeal to the magisterium of the Church and note that the Church’s teaching on care for the poor goes back to the Apostles. Are you kidding me? When else does that fact ever hold sway with this crowd of profs? The ordination of women? Contraception? Acting on homosexual attraction? What a joke that they would now appeal to the Church’s history of teaching when they routinely spit on it.
I respectfully ask Dionne to quit trying to lead Catholics astray by granting credence to confused professors from Catholic colleges – one of the last hideouts for dissenting gray-haired heretical “catholics”
Before referencing the Church’s teaching on social issues such as poverty I ask Dionne to first READthe Church’s teaching on the subject.