Saturday, October 04, 2008

"Catholic Church Is Riven by Internal Debate"

That's a Dept. of No Surprise headline from the Times.  

After all, when has the Roman church not been riven by internal debate?  Certainly not in the 9th century, when Ratramnus and Radbertus fought over the nature of the Eucharist, or the 13th, when Thomas Aquinas threw down with Siger of Brabant over Aristotle's understanding of the intellect.  Certainly not in the 16th, when some monks in Germany -- ah, but we digress.

Anyhoo, the Times article is typical election year stuff, about bishops who insist that their priests take up pulpit time telling people how to vote -- and that they tell them to vote Republican.  There is some blowback, not necessarily by liberals but by Catholics like Doug Kmiec, once legal counsel in the Reagan administration, who argue that the Dems currently best reflect the big picture of Catholic social teaching.

Now, to the extent that this is true, it has been true for many years.  The relationship between Roman Catholics and the Democratic Party is long and at least partially honorable.  The newer relationship with Republicanism, forged in the crucible of the pro-life movement, is not as long but certainly familiar.  What may be new, or at least new-ish, is the vocal insistence by some Catholics (excluding nuns and labor leaders, who we must admit do figure prominently in the story) that Catholic voters have a moral obligation to consider not only abortion but other matters on which their church speaks. 

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