A great many Catholic bloggers have pleaded with “the general Catholic blogosphere” to deny and decry politics as a part of religion. I agree that you can take politics and turn it into a religion– an idolatry of public discourse and social conditioning. This obviously is not a good thing. Indeed, I have spent a lot of time trying to avoid politics while explaining why beliefs and principles directly affect society.
The problem is, your politics reflect your beliefs about the world you live in. Your beliefs, principles and assumptions are all informed by your most deeply held religious convictions. Any other arrangement is either dishonest or nonsensical.
If you identify as a Catholic and proclaim the Catholic faith– in this day and age of “The Personal is Political” it is impossible to avoid politics as a Catholic. Because we have all these annoying beliefs about things like the dignity and sacredness of life, the dignity of every human person, Natural Law and Just Law, the role of God as well as the Role of Country in a person’s life– just to name a few. That means that all of these things directly informs the Catholic about how he or she votes as well as how she lives her life. All of these things have consequences. All of these things stand out as being more compatible with one party than the other. That’s just life.
Sure, you could say, “But what about feeding the poor? Hater!”
I would say, “Yes, that’s for charities, personal gifting, and religious institutions. With top down thinking and inefficient government bureaucracy– hordes of people fall between the cracks. If we institutionalize the treatment of the poor, their human dignity goes out the window. They get used to forward other political aims, and they become a part of the machinery of the state. The government system is NOT working. There are still people out there begging on the street, and billions of dollars of taxpayers money disappears down a rabbit hole. Isn’t it fun to waste other people’s money? A very small percentage of what I pay in taxes actually goes to the needy in question, and the government doesn’t have to tell me what does and doesn’t. But if I give to Caritas, or my local soup kitchen, they send me a paper telling me exactly that. Excuse me, would you like to come and work at the soup kitchen this Sunday after mass?”
With the way things have been going for the past… 80-100 years, you simply cannot declare a moratorium on political issues and yet remain a Catholic. Believe me, I have tried, and have found the exercise to be both crippling and dishonest. Either your declared faith reflects your politics, or it does not.
Strangely, you can derive a political position from the teachings of Jesus. They do not measure up neatly with one political party or the other. However, at least in America, it is clear that one party is a bit more compatible with Catholic teaching than the other, when viewed as a whole. The complex issue is that you can’t just use your favorite issues, but compare the entire contents of the faith with the entire platform for a given party. You have to know how each issue is weighed in the eyes of God, as well as in the eyes of the party. And not just based on the behavior of a few politicians but the group as a whole.
Also, you have to ask, what strategies might work in a fallen world? Does showering every problem with money really make a difference? Or is it a matter of what Christians are actually willing to do for one another, as opposed to how much coin they put in the poor box on a given Sunday? Voting isn’t doing. Making laws is not doing. Top down thinking is a very specialized sort of thinking for a particular project. It only works for large scale military projects. This is the hierarchy that God established. He did not lie to us. In politics the best we can do is spread around the power in small chunks so that there is little to seduce in terms of power over others. In every other aspect, the biggest servant is the greatest master.