US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Getting something done in Washington and the church

By Megan Sweas | Print this pagePrint |

As Bryan points out in a blog  post that has gotten a ton of comments already, my post about seeking cooperation and support between pro-life and pro-human dignity camps only has gotten a couple of comments. This seems to say to me that this is really just about politics and not the issues.

Republican visitors comment about how abortion is the number one concern and that the USCCB is somehow not pro-life enough because a few mistakes were made (as the CCHD has admitted and corrected, defunding organizations). And liberal visitors accuse the Republican Party of only using "pro-life" as an election slogan.

Meanwhile, the good folks at the USCCB are trying to get something done about pro-life issues across the board. They are lobbying to make abortion illegal, to support pregnant women, and to provide housing, health care, education, and other human rights to people in poverty around our country and world (and if you don't think this is Catholic, please, please read our Busy Christian's Guide to Catholic Social Teaching). As I said in my previous blog post, the USCCB wants to ensure that there is bipartisan support of any bill they support.

When U.S. Catholic magazine surveys its readers about its product, we get comments that we're too liberal and that we're too conservative. That's when we know we're doing something right. Perhaps the USCCB should be proud that they are getting heat from both extremes now!

But the fact remains that the vast majority of Catholics are in the middle. The shouting on each side is threatening real concrete action, whether in Congress or the USCCB.

Jim Leach, a 15-term Republican Congressman from Iowa, offers great insights into the polarization of our government in an article he wrote for NETWORK, The Catholic Social Justice Lobby (starts on page 4). The church could also learn a lot from this pairing of a quite liberal Catholic organization and the Republican..

Only 4 percent (those who participate in primaries), Leach writes in his first of 10 2-minute lessons on governance, control politics in the United States. "This 4 percent is socially quite conservative on the Republican side and vigorously liberal on the Democratic," he writes. "As a consequence, legislative bodies intended to represent a cross-section of the American public hardly have a place for the vast majoritarian center."

"Little is more important for the world's leading democracy in this change-intensive century than establishing an ethos of thoughtfulness and decency of expression in the public square," Leach concludes.

This article should be on the reading list of every Catholic that cares at all about politics, no matter what side of the aisle they're on. Sadly, more energy will be into partisan politics than solutions.