By Msgr. Charles Pope
Satan is no idiot. He has successfully convinced most Catholics that moral issues are political issues. And in so doing he has successfully shut down a huge amount of moral exhortation and reflection. This is especially true in a political season such as this, when the distinctions between the candidates on critical moral issues could not be clearer or sharper.
Among the moral issues that have been most politicized are non-negotiable issues for any Catholic: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and same sex “marriage.” These are non-negotiable issues because there is no room for nuance or degree of support. You are either for them or against them. There is no middle ground. They are outright forbidden by Church teaching and no Catholic may agree with or support abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research or same-sex “marriage” in any degree whatsoever. This goes for every Catholic from the highest political officials to the lowliest and most unknown Catholic in the pew. This precedes politics, party loyalties, political leanings or any such thing.
But did I mention Satan is no idiot? Indeed, he has convinced many that Catholics who clearly articulate Catholic moral teaching on these non-negotiable issues are merely “talking about politics; and how dare they!” And cowed by this satanic trick and lie many clergy and other Catholics sadly cave and run for cover in speaking to these issues at all, not just in political seasons. Other dissenting Catholics buy Satan’s lie because it gives them cover and helps to silence foes.
To again be clear, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and same-sex “marriage” are moral issues, and the Church must teach against them no matter where the political lines fall.
The Catholic position on these matters currently coincides with one political party’s platform over another. But this not the intention or fault of the Catholic Church. These are matters that most Americans once agreed on and are now matters that have divided out along political lines.
The Catholic Church has not moved one inch. Rather, it is a confused culture that has changed and politicians and parties have moved and maneuvered for reasons of their own. But to say the abortion is a grave moral evil is no more political today than it was in 1950. And just because politicians and dissenting Catholics say it is political does not make it so.
I, and I pray every other faithful Catholic, will vigorously and confidently refute the charge of “being political” when we teach on these non-negotiable truths. I pray we will refute such charges as did St. Paul when he said, We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor 4:2). No true Catholic or disciple of Jesus can do anything other than to manifest the truth plainly and draw others to conversion.
An additional problem at the intersection of Catholic moral teaching and politics is that there are a number of other moral issues that, while important, admit of distinctions and varying solutions. They involve matters in which reasonable people will differ. These include matters of economic justice, care for the poor, immigration issues, and so forth. Unlike the non-negotiable issues above that admit of no exceptions or middle ground, these sorts of issues can call forth various policy solutions.
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