In last week’s issue, Mr. Javier Secaira crafted a detailed and accurate description of the relationship between Catholicism and modern political parties. Mr. Secaira is correct that, yes, it is in fact difficult to be a devout Catholic and a Democrat.
However, one particular point warranted further thought. “Being a Democrat and a Catholic who follows all the teachings of the Church,” Secaira said, “is a contradiction.”
If one only examines terms associated with Democrats in this election, I agree. Pro-choice or “Democratic-socialist” are terms which, at least at the University of Dallas, immediately alienate students from Democratic candidates.
But we’re ahead of ourselves. These immediate definitions close the mind to important, even life-saving possibilities.
As an unashamed political progressive and a proud Catholic, I would like to give a brief description of why I am Catholic, a “socialist” (gasp) and pro-life.
The pro-life candidate protects all life, including those of Syrian refugees, drug addicts, animals, school children, death-row inmates, illegal immigrants and, most importantly, the poor. Pro-life means that all are entitled to a life of dignity.
Under these terms, it should be very easy to see why a Democrat can be very pro-life, considering the issues of gun control, healthcare, the environment, crime, the death penalty and immigration. Abortion, as Margaret Sanger herself illustrated both explicitly and implicitly, results from racism and poverty. The response to poverty is perhaps the greatest difference between Republicans and Democrats.
Unlike Mr. Secaira, I assert that there is something especially un-Catholic about having lax government economic regulation.
I will appeal to the authority of Joseph Ratzinger, much revered at UD, who wrote just before his papacy: “in many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine.”
I shouldn’t need to provide a quote from Pope Francis to illustrate his view of democratic socialism, but to drive the point home: “equitable development will also be made … by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.” Sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders, doesn’t it?
I would also like to counter his claim with the following question. Can a Republican follow every teaching of the Church?
In short, no. For far too long, Republican establishment politicians have advocated for policies that adversely affect the poor, contribute to environmental decay and create violent international conflict that leads to civil war and, ultimately, death. The culture of death is perpetuated by both the right and the left.
In other words, being a Catholic and a Republican or Democrat means you’re sailing on a leaking boat. When one chooses their political allegiance, or in this case their presidential candidate, they pick the boat that leaks the least.
This is a complex issue, patient reader, and all I can ask is for you to entertain the idea, not to accept it. As the Jesuit saying goes, “Never deny, seldom affirm, always distinguish.” I recognize the possibility of losing friends for my comments.
Ironically, even at this “Catholic University for Independent Thinkers,” I have to take that risk for the sake of stimulating thought. Average men, and average men alone, suffer from the pain of a new idea.
This article has been updated for online reading. We apologize for original errors in spelling and context.