6 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 5)

  1. jh says:

    “Careers and reputations are often deemed more important than what the natural law and common good would demand (witness the Supreme Court).”

    Good post. THough I perhaps differ with some specifics you put it. I am a NAFTA supporter(it might need to be tweeked) but I think it is on the right path. I am not sure being pro NAFTA is anti Catholic but perhaps I am reading too much into your comments.

    I am curious if you would elaborate on your Supreme Court Comment. IS there a “Catholic” way to look at Const law? If so if this goes beyond the intent of the founders is it correct that the Court take power that is not delegated to them to enforce a common good? I think Archbishop Chaput would disagee looking at recent comments. I am not saying that natural law cannot be a jurisrudence for the Const. But again the court operates in the realm in the power that is given them.

    Again I am curious about that comment

  2. Eric Brown says:

    Actually, Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus in his book “Civilization of Love” seems to hold a somewhat similar position, jh, in regard to NAFTA.

  3. jh says:

    “Actually, Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus in his book “Civilization of Love” seems to hold a somewhat similar position, jh, in regard to NAFTA.”

    What postion is that? Again just curious. I think NAFTA needs to be tweeked as I said but it get tiresome for me to deal with Catholics on the Far Right( the horrible NAFTA Highway conspiracy) and other conspiracy theories and those on the left with their protectionist theories.

    I am saying when we are dealing with something as complicated as the NAFTA agreement there is not one “Catholic” position.

    I very much like the above post but while it speaks of looking to the Catholic commom good it seems to imply that there is a common Catholic true response to the Federal Reserve to Iraq to Nafta.

    I think that cuts off discussion and sort of lets say undermines the true intent of his post.

  4. Eric Brown says:

    Anderson supports NAFTA but thinks reforms are necessary. I read the book when it first came out. I would have to check.

    On the other matter, I think a distinction needs to be made. And I hope my clarifications are there. I think there is such a thing as a ‘true’ Catholic response — objectively speaking. I do not believe that all moral judgments to a given situation are equal, that would be relativism. While reasonable minds may disagree on matters of prudential judgment (and none of us are barred from receiving communion as with advocating direct intrinsic evils), the fact that we can disagree often leads in my mind to a sort of relativism where our positions on other matter are almost entirely left to our discretion. I’m not saying this is anyone’s conscious thinking, but discussion of it almost seems to suggest that.

    I think there is a ‘true’ Catholic position to the war in Iraq. I’m not prepared to say what it is. The Church does not declare definitively on it for a number of reasons, but the moral principles given to us should allow us to reach a conclusion. Who is right and who is wrong at the end of the day, we will know when we die. But this does not mean that good intentions and one’s reasons simply because one thinks them derived from church teaching and principle make them a Catholic position or a “Catholic response.” I think the true Catholic response is the one *most* in accord with objective moral norms and I cannot think that even with the diversity of Catholic positions we take, all of them are ‘true’ Catholic responses. They cannot be. Again, that would be relativism.

    Because of the lack of unbiased facts, presentation, and many factors prevent the Church from definitively saying what the Catholic position is on matters where the morality is not so obvious. As it so happens, our church leadership is just as ready to divide on what is and what is not the Catholic position on some matter. And even moreso, it is not a prudent idea pastorally to tell everyone what to think on every issue and not allow some intellectual freedom as well as attempt, in the form of trial and error, to develop in moral virtue.

    In that sense, no, there is no ‘true’ Catholic response dogmatically put forward for us to readily advocate. We have to come to the best judgment we can make that we deem best in accordance with church teaching and dialogue about it and present our case the best we can. For me, in many circumstances, it tends to be a Democratic position. It seems obvious to me in a lot of cases this best reflects the teachings of the Church. This is not the case with other Catholics. While open to being wrong (and I have adapted my opinion on a number of issues because of dialogue), I think my view is profoundly Catholic and the ‘obvious’ Catholic position until I see credible reason to think otherwise.

    I’m not accusing you of thinking a certain way. I’m just commenting in general that I think that the phrase “matters of prudential judgment” which refers to non-intrinsic evils leads to some sort of relativism among Catholics where since the Church has no “official” position, we can adapt almost any view as long as we can give it a Catholic spin — or at least this is my perception of it. Whereas, I think while there is no “official” position because it is humanly impossible to verify because of the question of the source of facts, dispute about circumstances, et al, thus all are left to prudentially come to a conclusion — which in my view means that we are all seeking the Catholic position, though, we cannot precisely say what it is — and whatever position any number of Catholic positions taken are “Catholic approaches” insofar as they are based on Church teaching, but I don’t think all views necessarily take everything into account at the proportionate level they are meant to be.

    It’s just one of the things that bother me when people talk about “non-negotiables” and matters of “prudential judgment.” I hope I articulated it well enough.

  5. Tim Shipe says:

    My own personal take on the application of general principle and worldview as presented by the more-or-less complete Catholic social doctrine- is that NAFTA-economics is flawed, not in that there is a trade agreement between nations, but that economics must involve true freedom which is not merely contractual, but moral, representative of true human freedom which is connected to the ends of Man (of all mankind)- which is the proper return to God. Economics is about more than mere cumulative desires/supply-demand- but how are all the people in the chain of economic transactions affected- be it the producers/workers, the sellers, the consumers. A good critique of this kind of critique is found in William Cavanaugh’s book – Being Consumed- and it is supported by what I have read over the years in official Catholic teachings- right up to the current encyclical.

    So- if NAFTA-economics can be generalized to say that it does not include provisions that look after the welfare of workers/farmers/small communities with the rights of subsidiarity, and the environmental health – then it is a flawed approach to trade and relations between nations. The fact that Mexico was quickly abandoned as a source of cheap human labor when China opened wide- to provide huge access to cheap and hardly “free” laborers- exposed the false myth promised by NAFTA- and we see how the Mexican people feel about NAFTA as they have voted with their feet in fleeing their country for America.

    As for the Supreme Court- I resoect Archbishop Chaput very much and haven’t read his take on how we should expect our Highest Court to involve natural law reasoning and common good outcomes into their daily work- but it seems to me from reading the social doctrine that there can be no mere positive law theory of interpretation that can replace the demands of justice inscribed in the natural laws given us by God and accessible to all, but there is a big help given us by the Church- I would recommend Prof. Rice’;s book on the Natural Law, as a good application of what the Church teaches. I would compare strict contructionist interpretation theory to a Fundamentalist reading of Scripture- not a perfect analogy of course given the uniqueness of Scripture and Catholic Magisterial guidance

  6. Elaine Krewer says:

    I don’t think there can be, or ought to be, a defined “Catholic” position on EVERY single political or economic issue, for the simple reason that the Catholic Church, by definition, crosses economic and political boundaries — it’s universal; that’s what the name means! The kind of political or economic or military policies that “work” for one nation, or at one particular time in history, aren’t necessarily going to work in another nation, another culture, or at another time. So there has to be some flexibility.

    What the Catholic (Universal) Church does is set forth universal principles –protection of innocent human life, of the poor and vulnerable, of the family as the basic unit of society, and of human dignity (including religious freedom). How these basic principles are best applied at a given time and place and in a given situation is what lay people are called to figure out, and to do.

    Although the “non negotiable” issues with absolutely no room for compromise like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage get most of the attention, it seems to me that the vast majority of economic and political issues are matters of prudence about which faithful Catholics are free to disagree, and to change their minds — and this is as it should be.

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