Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/7/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Social conservatism is not seen as generous, compassionate, or interested in the wide range of issues that impact our well-being, and that has become a political liability.

"Social conservatism" has long been the Good Housekeeping brand in pro-life politics. Its usefulness, however, has come to an end, not because the moral commitments it signifies are any less important, but because politics is about attracting voters. A new language that in no way compromises the principles of life, marriage, and authentic freedom needs to be cultivated, one that encompasses more than a handful of issues, no matter how important, and one that connects to the larger culture.  The demands of social justice, then, begin with the right to life and end with the right to be protected from euthanasia or the temptation of assisted suicide. It\'s a mistake to detach the idea of social justice from the protection of vulnerable life: The source of moral obligation to protect the unborn and to feed the hungry is one and the same-the inherent dignity of the human person.

Using dominant-issue language can help to close the unnecessary divide between pro-life and social justice Catholics. There's a clear continuity between providing someone with food and shelter and the willingness to defend his life when it's threatened.

Using dominant-issue language can help to close the unnecessary divide between pro-life and social justice Catholics. There's a clear continuity between providing someone with food and shelter and the willingness to defend his life when it's threatened.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/7/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: solial conservative, cultural conservative, Social Justice, Social Doctrine, Catholic vote, faithful citizenship, Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-Poor, Pro-Peace, Catholic Action, activism, religious right, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - "Social conservatism" has long been the Good Housekeeping brand in pro-life politics. Its usefulness, however, has come to an end, not because the moral commitments it signifies are any less important, but because politics is about attracting voters. A new language that in no way compromises the principles of life, marriage, and authentic freedom needs to be cultivated, one that encompasses more than a handful of issues, no matter how important, and one that connects to the larger culture. 

"Cultural Conservatism" has been suggested, as I have discussed in previous columns, and I applaud the direction that would take those of us who want to unite the pro-life convictions with a concern for "social justice." I understand the skepticism readers might feel at this suggestion, so I promise to sort through just what social justice really means in Catholic teaching in a future column. The point, however, is a simple one; social conservatism is not seen as generous, compassionate, or interested in the wide range of issues that impact our well-being, and that has become a political liability.      

Some critics refer to social conservatives as "single issue" voters. It's not a fair characterization but is a troublesome one.  Those of us who believe that some issues are more important than others and should be given top priority in considering a candidate's qualifications, should be viewed not as single issue voters but as "dominant issue" voters. These are voters who take into account the urgency of addressing issues of social injustice in the culture but see those issues arranged vertically not horizontally.

The life issues-including abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem-cell research, and cloning-are at the top of that hierarchy. These issues should be considered dominant in determining how to vote for two simple reasons: First, the protection of life-the right to life-is a moral principle that sits at the foundation of morality itself. And it's one of the three foundational rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. There could be no right to liberty or happiness unless there were a living person in the first place.

Second, the injunction of natural law and the Church to oppose abortion is unqualified: Individuals are not required, or allowed, to make prudential judgments of the principle to a specific case. Appeals to private "conscience" cannot override this infallible teaching. In his 2002 Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life,  the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:

In this context, it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good.

Opposition to abortion, therefore, admits of no exceptions. There is no question, then, that as the dominant issue, a politician's position on abortion qualifies him or her for the Catholic vote. From the perspective of the Church, not all the policy positions taken by candidates are of equal importance. Catholic voters, by understanding themselves as dominant-issue voters, can preserve the hierarchy of values at the core of Church teaching while not ignoring the legitimate spectrum of issues important to political consideration.

Furthermore, by understanding the dominance of life issues, Catholic voters will overcome their confusion about the difference between moral principle and prudential judgment. Unlike the admonition against abortion, most of the general principles proposed in Church teaching can be implemented in a variety of ways; it's simply a mistake to assume-as the Left often does-that one kind of implementation is more "Catholic" than another.

As has been noted many times, the USCCB's habit of issuing dozens of policy recommendations during every congressional session on issues ranging from broadband legislation and immigration to minimum wage and partial-birth abortion results in confusion at the grassroots. Unfortunately, the average Catholic doesn't discriminate between simple policy recommendations made by the Conference and doctrinal statements, and often wrongly assumes that they have equal authority.

Using dominant-issue language can help to close the unnecessary divide between pro-life and social justice Catholics. There's a clear continuity between providing someone with food and shelter and the willingness to defend his life when it's threatened. The Church often employs the phrase "social justice" when addressing "the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of "authority" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1928). A cultural conservatism, if it is to emerge, must reconnect what never should have been disconnected - because to care about life is to care about everything.

The demands of social justice, then, begin with the right to life and end with the right to be protected from euthanasia or the temptation of assisted suicide. It's a mistake to detach the idea of social justice from the protection of vulnerable life: The source of moral obligation to protect the unborn and to feed the hungry is one and the same-the inherent dignity of the human person.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Obama proposes shocking $1.3 billion for illegal minors entering US Watch

Image of Children illegally cross the border from Mexico into the US (Breitbart Texas Release).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With US President Barack Obama's plans to provide $17,613 for every illegal minor child entering America, the first six months of 2016 has seen a jump of 78 percent in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican-American border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Romanian hacker, 'Guccifer' drops two NEW bombshells over Clinton email server Watch

Image of Guccifer has dropped two new revelations about Clinton's email server.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Fox News has interviewed the Romanian hacker, Guccifer, who claims it was easy to hack Hillary Clinton's email server and that others did so as well. Guccifer is being held in an American jail on unrelated hacking charges, but he agreed to speak exclusively to Fox ... continue reading


Too little too late: $75.5 million anti-Trump ads not enough Watch

Image of Who can stop Trump? Apparently, no one (Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump has several critics, most of whom have invested in a $75.5 million anti-Trump campaign, but the American people have spoken and Donald Trump remains the last standing Republican nominee. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Donald Trump has been criticized ... continue reading


Hoosier Daddy: Trump wins Indiana in a Landslide Watch

Image of With Cruz out of the race, the nomination is in the bag for Trump (starcasm).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump beat out Ted Cruz in Indiana's primary, leading Cruz to make a startling announcement and Kasich to drop out. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I've said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory; tonight I'm sorry to say it ... continue reading


ICE gets more money, deports fewer illegals. Where's the money going? Watch

Image of Illegal immigrants cross the border with little risk of repercussion.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Where is the money going? Congress continues to allocate money to get people who don't belong in our country back home, but deportations are dropping according to new numbers. So, where is the money going? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Breitbart News has ... continue reading


New report finds religious freedom on the decline Watch

Image of Coptic Christians are among the most persecuted group in the world, and nobody is attempting to help them.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Religious freedom worldwide is "under serious and sustained assault." This finding is the work of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCRIF). LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A new report which examines religious oppression around ... continue reading


'He deserves what he gets:' Latino youths violently protest Donald Trump in Orange County Watch

Image of Trump protestors broke out in a violent riot during his Orange County rally (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thousands attended Donald Trump's Orange County rally - then broke out in violent protest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Trump rally in Costa Mesa's Orange County Amphitheater was overflowing with supporters. There were several supporters who couldn't fit ... continue reading


New White House rules leave religious groups open to government abuse Watch

Image of Religious groups question the government's new regulations (Shutterstock).

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government ... continue reading


EXCLUSIVE - America, King of Propaganda: U.S. government spends billions to spew LIES to the American people. And guess what you foolish Americans, Congress made it all perfectly legal without your vote Watch

Image of

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have we won the ground war in Afghanistan? According to the government reports and the media, we sure have. However, this is not what one whistleblower has said, warning as early as 2012 that the American people are being deceived by the government. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Bill De Blasio's ongoing investigation scandal fails to stop him from new fundraising efforts Watch

Image of Mayor Bill de Blasio won't talk - but his staff will (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's closest aides have been issued subpoenas to aid the investigation into his shady fundraising strategies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal surrounding de Blasio's fundraising has made headlines since 2014, when a leaked ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • The gruesome way scientists are killing unborn babies in school ...
  • 'The doctors were shocked': Conjoined twins share unusual bond
  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 HD Video
  • Historical Jubilee documents on display!
  • Daily Readings for Friday, May 06, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Monday, May 9th, 2016 HD Video
  • Bl. Edward Jones: Saint of the Day for Friday, May 06, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 1:1-11
1 In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
2 For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious, the great king over all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:46-53
46 and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer ... Read More

Reading 2, Ephesians 1:17-23
17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 5th, 2016 Image

St. Hilary of Arles
May 5: Bishop of Arles, France, and friend and relative ... Read More