Bishop criticizes Democratic, Republican parties, calls upon Catholics to transform them
CWN – August 17, 2012
Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes that the political “parties’ retreat from the ideological center has left Catholics with the understandable, but unfortunate impression that their only political option is to choose a side and join in to win the culture war. The resulting toxic acrimony has long since seeped into the Church. Catholics must reverse this trend.”
“To their credit, Democrats have for at least a century recognized that government has a legitimate role in helping the poor and vulnerable,” he says. “But these days Democrats more often grab headlines through their efforts to redefine marriage or by trying to determine which Church activity is ‘religious’ or by attempting to force Catholic institutions to provide employee health coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs.”
“To their credit, Republicans for the last 50 years have opposed the abortion-approving Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and have espoused family values,” Bishop Pates adds. “But Republicans now make headlines by advocating the slashing of federal programs, including those for the poor, and proposing anti-immigrant legislation.”
The idea is that Catholics should work within their parties to change them, creating a diverse and substantial group motivated not so much by ideology but by challenging cultural issues, large and small.
This is easier said than done. The bishops are asking Catholics to raise uncomfortable issues in sometimes exceedingly hostile environments. Many Democrats have worked strenuously since Roe v. Wade to purge dissenters on legalized abortion from party ranks. They have succeeded to the extent that pro-life Democrats find themselves in a no-man’s land, often reviled for their views and distrusted by pro-lifers because of their party affiliation. More recently, Republicans have sought to purify party ranks of even the slightest variations from party orthodoxy. Republican candidates and legislators espouse increasingly hard-line positions punitive to immigrants and cut disproportionately programs that help the poor.
“Latino Catholics provide some hope,” he adds. “With strong pro-life, pro-family sensibilities and pro-poor and pro-immigrant views, they defy easy classification. They could transform either party that welcomes them and their concerns–a model for other US Catholics.”
Additional sources for this story: Bishop Pates: In This Together: How Catholics Can Overcome Partisan Divisions (America Magazine) www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13529&comments=1