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By Randall Smith   
Sunday, 09 December 2012

The last election was a very bad election, and I’m not referring primarily to its outcome.  Voters choose whomever they choose, and the electorate gets the government they deserve.  What concerns me more deeply is that over six billion dollars were reportedly spent on the recent elections, and yet for all that investment of time and money, very rarely (if ever) did we hear a substantive debate concerning the real issues and challenges facing the country. 

It seems we have lost the ability to carry on serious, adult conversations in public about issues crucial to the common good.  Make no mistake, liberal or conservative, we will suffer for it.  No one is really “winning.” The whole country, more and more, is losing.  And the worse our problems get, the greater the anger and divisiveness, and the less likely we are to have people who can speak in public in a reasoned, mature fashion. 

This problem is aided and abetted, as we all know – indeed, it is in large part created – by the media and their inability to deal with any serious topic in a way worthy of its importance.  There are simply some things that can’t be expressed in a thirty-second sound bite.  And while taking a single comment out of context in order to blow it up into a reason for outrage may make for wonderful scandal mongering, it also immeasurably cheapens the public debate. 

In this forbidding environment, the results of a word or two out of place mean the difference not only between winning and losing, but between remaining a viable candidate and becoming the sacrificial scapegoat for the country’s self-appointed priestly caste, the media pundits, whose greatest joy in life seems to be self-righteously banishing into the wilderness the unclean and unfit.

No one is willing to allow an unguarded comment, and as a result, all public discourse is carefully scripted to make it palatable to the least-common-denominator audience or to the special interests of carefully targeted “interest groups.” 

Let me suggest, then, that if Catholics want to help cure what ails the nation, they must help the nation think about itself and its common good in ways deeper and more substantial than the nation (and especially the nation’s dominant media) seem willing to allow. We’ll need to give some serious thought to issues a lot more substantive than what sort of coalition might win the next election. 

One way of judging political societies is whether and how they come to terms with the question of their own identity. In that regard, we’ll need to give some serious consideration to what we mean by “the American Dream”?  Have we, for example, let shallow and foolish conceptions of the suburban ideal seduce us into overvaluing social arrangements that were never all that ideal? 

Is the “American Dream” really just a set of economic privileges?  Or do those economic privileges entail and presuppose certain obligations and responsibilities: for the nature and character of the public order, for example, and for the common good of the nation?  When it comes to elections, can we really say nothing more substantial than “It’s the economy, stupid”?  We have to come to terms with the fact that what used to be considered shameless greed and avarice is now thought of a sort of benign self-interest:  merely “market choices” of the “consumer.”

Can we take the time to resist the popular culture with its libertine sexual mores and its market-driven corporate consumerism long enough to ask the sort of essential questions the Church requires us to ask, such as: What is the role of markets, and what are they for?  If, for example, we say that markets are for persons, and not vice versa, then how do markets best serve persons?  So too if bureaucracies are meant to serve persons, and persons not merely meant to endlessly feed the paper-hungry beast, then how best can our institutions once again serve us as persons and not merely as numbers or units

Do we really want every institution in America to serve the autonomous hyper-individualism that is at the root of both current American liberalism and current American laissez-faire free-market capitalism?  Or can we as Catholics help America find a new vision of society, based on the communal and relational dimensions of the human person?

So, too, we must come to terms with the nature and quality of Christian education in the country.  For example, can our Catholic schools and colleges help our students avoid becoming the kind of soulless bureaucrats and technocrats that are currently strangling so much of contemporary American life?  The answer is no if those schools continue to ape the current cultural paradigms and refuse any and all efforts to renew their dedication to their specifically Catholic mission and identity.

And finally, what about the media?  As Catholics, can we really do no better than the current drivel we’re fed every day?  Are we up to challenge of helping the nation fight the constant stream of half-truths and lies in the only way such a battle can be waged: with a solid presentation of the truth?  Can we teach our students, for example, to demand something more from their politicians than empty platitudes and self-contradictory explanations with no basis in fact or evidence?  Is it time to go back to the classic education in grammar, rhetoric, and logic?

Would any of these things guarantee victory in upcoming elections?  I have no idea.  But if as Catholics we want to think well about politics in the United States in our current situation, we’ll have to think hard about many things other than politics.

 
Randall Smith is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.
 
 
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written by Achilles, December 09, 2012
Excellent essay! Certainly one of the most common errors in thinking today is finding ourselves victims of our circumstances and misattributing causes for our ill actions. A recovery of the Catholic understanding of free will and freedom would go a long way to preparing us for heaven.
poor catechesis, greed, heresy, etc.. these are fruits from roots of misunderstood anthropology.
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written by Manfred, December 09, 2012
Two comments, Randall Smith: Why do so many writers persist in referring to Catholics as homogeneous? We, as a group, agree on very little. The institutional Church controls very little. I am told that no external agency controls the National Catholic Reporter, Notre Dame U. or Georgetown. You mention Cahtolic schools and colleges. Notre Dame and Georgetown have both instituted LGBT organizations on their campuses. What concrete steps do you propose in these matters, Mr. Smith, to end this aberration? The truth is this nation is Slouching towards Gomorrah and no one is capable of stopping it. Only a Divine Intervention can and the Catholics you speak of have to reform their own lives first. Thank you.
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written by Other Joe, December 09, 2012
We are coming out of a time when the fish are jumpin and living is easy which has made us all Fat Dumb and Happy - where Fat is excess, Dumb is uninformed and Happy is self-satisfied. No one likes conflict. In the time of FD&H, the easy broad way leads to perdition where perdition means lost in the deepest possible sense. The tour guides for the road to nowhere have determined that truth hurts peoples' feelings. To those who are FD&H feelings are more important than freedom. Obvious evils are slipped under the rug called political correctness. The rug is there to protect the sensibilities of the FD&H. Yet those who would deny conflict engender it. Those who would save their FD&H prerogatives (lives) lose them. Those who would receive and never give soon find the bottom of the barrel. One may live a life in chains, at least until the provisions run out, but only Truth can set one free. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? But for feelings?
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, December 09, 2012
Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves of what politics is about.

The Catholic political theorist, Carl Schmitt, who had lived through the political decadence of Weimar, pointed out that every realm of human endeavour is structured by an irreducible duality. Morality is concerned with good and evil, aesthetics with the beautiful and the ugly, and economics with the profitable and the unprofitable. In politics, the core distinction is between friend and enemy.

The political comes into being when groups are placed in a relation of enmity, where each comes to perceive the other as an irreconcilable adversary to be fought and, if possible, defeated. Each group now faces an opponent, and must take account of that fact: “every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms itself into a political one, if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively according to friends and enemy.”

Only liberals believe in a rule-bound legalism and a rationalistic concept of political debate. The political condition arises from the struggle of groups; “order” is the stabilised result of past conflicts.
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written by WSquared, December 09, 2012
Excellent essay, Professor Smith.

It is yet another reminder, however, of the value of studying history, and how Catholics in America do themselves no favors when they quote the Founding Fathers or reference some bucolic, idealistic vision of American Independence and the founding of the Republic without thinking-- namely because so many people are used to consuming (and I do not use that word lightly) history either as a form of entertainment or for scoring cheap political points (God forbid that history should ever be about the human condition, and if it's not, why bother with it at all? What, pray, would be the point?).

One real example that I see enough times among those who style themselves "conservative" is to presume that political discourse was "so much more genteel and civil back then." I would strongly suggest to any person who holds-- or prefers to hold-- such views to google the name "Peter Porcupine."

Furthermore, you hit the nail on the head when you point out that if markets are made for people and not the other way around, what do we mean by "market"? Also, are economics merely amoral and somehow just "there"? Americans in the 18th century sure didn't think so, and they constantly grappled with the moral implications of a commercialized society (anyone interested in this topic might start with Drew McCoy, "The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America"), which means that a cognitive disconnect happened somewhere, and it gets compounded if the best that we can come up with is "it's the economy, stupid!" The colonists grappled with what they consumed, also, and those concerns didn't go away with independence: slavery is a pertinent example here, and it also drives home the issue of how people get commodified. Also, we have encyclicals such as Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" and Benedict XVI's "Caritas in Veritate," which speak to the need to address these questions by also asking what we even mean by the human person. Work is meant for man, not man for work. But what is Man? Is man meant to be, in the words of Rabbi Lord Sacks, "homo economicus"?

To be authentically Catholic is to think with the Crucifix. And by that I also mean to point out that Catholic orthodoxy can handle tension, and it can handle paradox, two things that too close an adherence to political parties tend to ignore. I think that knowing that will enable us to engage others more effectively, because a lot of the times, liberalism and conservativism in this country, I will venture to say, are still only two sides of the same heretical coin, namely the materialistic worship of commerce and thereby either dumbing God down to that level or ignoring Him entirely. I apologize if I've oversimplified anything; there's simply a heck of a lot to unpack.
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written by Thomas the Doubter, December 09, 2012
Bishop Sheen once stated, when talking about the hippies' love of nudity back in the late '60s or early '70s, that they were trying to "get back to Eden without going through Calvary, and you can't do that." That is in many ways a metaphor for our entire society. The United States has created a paradise of materialism where even the poorest in this society possess things that would have been unimaginable to even the greatest potentate 150 years ago yet what has all this gained us? We have the highest rate of addiction and dependency probably in the history of the world. This is because materialism can never fulfill its promises, and it infects both the liberal and conservative ideologies: the liberals with their phony equality of taking from some and giving to others though it all always winds up in the hands of the state and its agents, and the conservative worship at the altar of business and 'entrepeneurship' as if that is the only worthwhile thing one can do with their life. WSquared is correct that an authentic Catholic thinks with the Crucifix, and it is always wise to remember that the only way to reach Paradise is to go up the hill of Calvary as all other roads lead to perdition.
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written by Dan, December 09, 2012
The situation is hopeless, or close to it. Along with Pope Benedict, I think the root of the problem is the relativism that pervades modern thinking. It is close to impossible to reason with a relativist concerning moral issues because the relativist denies that morality is subject to reason and dismisses reason-based argument as mere opinion. Huge swathes of the nation think this way, implicitly or explicitly. So long as this is the case, there is little hope that the quality of our politics will improve.
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written by Ib, December 09, 2012
Dr. Smith's column seems like a blast from the past, a piece that should have been published say last December before the Republican primaries, when laying out Roman Catholic social issues as the necessary foreground for a challenger to the anti-Roman Catholic policies of the Democrats. As you recall except for a couple of Republicans, these issues were not given much prominence. There's no point in rueing the past. However, this article seems out of its proper time. Also, is it really true that the policies of the present Democrat administration, which are pulling more and more Americans into the control of government, and building a more socialist state in the process, are based on "autonomous hyper-individualism"? That really would be a paradox!

Wsquared's comments are very good, but I am puzzled by Michael P-S's comments. In the past he has given us Thomists like Garrigou-Lagrange, but now he turns to Carl Schmitt, who held leadership roles in the Nazi party and was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1920s. The claim that he is a "Catholic political theorist" is dubious, although he has been influential with secular thinkers in political science on both the left and right. But you'll search in vain for any reference to him in official Roman Catholic documents or even on the website of a truly Roman Catholic think-tank for political economy like the Acton Institute. Michael P-S's comments are often truly puzzling.
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written by Ernest Miller, December 09, 2012
Our destiny is in a far worse state of affairs than anyone here admits. Not only did we lose the election, but also lost the chance to protect the Supreme Court and to its relative importance, the opportunity to protect our economy.

If lawsuits against mandated aboritifacients and the overarching issue of religious rights are not heard before Breyer, or Kennedy retire, the vote is most certainly lost.

Hence, the Church must beging to circle the wagons and identify and work to mount our last great defense for religious rights; everything else is purely academic.

If we calibrate correctly we will find that in the end, we lost America but not our Church.

It also follows that it is unrealistic that Catholics could mount an effort to change the combined mindsets of union leaders, the main stream media, Hollywood, academia, and welfare recipients that support the Democratic party. Our first error, in the quest to change these voting blocks, is to deny the anti-Catholic sentiments that foul this country.

The anti-Christian attitude is really anti-Catholic; and that should alarm our Bishops.
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written by Randall B. Smith, December 09, 2012
The Author Replies:

I have written in this space, and elsewhere, that conservatives in this country tend to favor the Church's teaching on sexual morality and treat with contempt the Church's teaching on economic and political matters as just so much silliness from old men in Rome who don't know what they're talking about. Whereas liberals in this country, on the other hand, tend to trumpet the Church's teaching on "social justice" (at least as they understand it) and treat with contempt the Church's teaching on sexual morality as just so much silliness from old men in Rome who don't know what they're talking about. Both groups are half-right (to put it charitably).

The intellectual problem for both groups, however, is that the same fundamental principles underlie both teachings. And unfortunately both tend to groups share problematic notions about the human person --- a kind of hyper-individualism, as I described it above --- and human freedom: that it is unlimited, self-gratifying, and essentially Hobbesian in character.

Thus liberals like to talk a lot about "rights" when it comes to sex and their bodies, generally avoiding any troublesome talk about their responsibilities to others and to society, while conservatives like to talk a lot about "rights" when it comes to property and economic matters, generally avoiding any troublesome talk about their obligations and responsibilities to others and to society.

If you want to see how the two sets of "rights talk" are directly related to one another in the history of American jurisprudence, I recommend reading Mary Ann Glendon's excellent book "Rights Talk." All the categories the court used to use at the beginning of the Twentieth Century with regard to the supremacy of property rights are now being used with respect to the "right to privacy" of one's own body and one's own sexual decisions. Just as the Supreme Court at the beginning of the Twentieth Century invalidated all sorts of state regulations concerning worker's rights based on the notion that the states could not challenge what an individual did with his own property, so now we have seen the Supreme Court invalidate all sorts of state regulations concerning abortion, and soon marriage, based on the notion that the states cannot challenge what an individual does with his or her own body.

The result is that neither liberals or conservatives in the country have a position which can consistently argue against the other because both sides are operating with an inconsistent notion of freedom for the individual from any external constraint whatsoever in their own privileged area.

Catholics, I would suggest, must think differently: about nature, about human nature, and about the nature of human flourishing and human freedom.

As to the particulars, Mr., well, "Diaperman" (since there seems to be no other way of addressing you), you are quite wrong about Hadley Arkes, Robert Sirico, Michael Novak, and George Weigel. You are of course free to disagree with them, but it is simply not true that any one of them expresses an "unqualified support for the economic agenda of Forbes magazine" (if by that you mean unqualified support for laissez-faire capitalism). Having read widely in the works of all of those men, I can assure you that they would not be likely to disagree with anything I've just written above in this reply. They might stress other things than I would, certainly, but about the fundamentals, no. Their devotion to the Church's teaching is not half-way or half-hearted. To be fair to them, I would say (even when I disagree with one of them) that they are all trying to work out as best as they can the implications of the Church's social teaching in its fullness (that is, for example, including both Centisimus Annus AND Evangelium Vitae, and not merely one or the other).

Where the rubber hits the road in terms of the election, however, is this: As the Church has repeatedly made clear, there are numerous ways of achieving the POSITIVE mandates and obligations we have to care for the poor and ensure social justice. This is a matter for prudential judgment and honest disagreement among men and women of good will. There is only ONE way, however, of obeying the negative prohibition against killing babies in the womb, and that is to not do it. This prohibition is not only absolute, it is also the case, as the Church has repeatedly made clear, that one cannot rightly claim to be protecting any other right if one does not protect the right to life.

I am sorrier than I can say that the Democratic Party in the United States has disqualified itself by violating this fundamental commandment not to take innocent life. As I have written previously in this space, our politics would be much healthier if they had not done so. But there it is. I could spit in the wind and curse the fates. But I have chosen instead to chastise both sides for the ways in which they fall short of the full truth about the human person and human freedom and to exhort Catholics to be Catholics first and Republicans and Democrats second, rendering to Caesar only those things that are Caesar's and never those things that are God's.

You mis-read me badly if you think I have said anything else.
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written by Kevin H. Winn, December 09, 2012
People need to wake up to the fact that in western Judeo-Christian tradition which produced the Founders' idea of rights endowed by the Creator, the religious sector (in our case, Catholicism) plays the important part of providing moral guidance independent of the commercial and government sectors. When we abandon the religious sector, we allow the commercial and government sectors to shape morals and ethics to their convenience. Thus many citizens end up in debt, in trouble, dependent on an in-debt government, and enslaved to politicians: Looks like where we are today.
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written by Ib, December 09, 2012
@Randall Smith

I appreciated your remarks. And I have read Mary Ann Glendon's insightful work on rights. But Professor Glendon didn't explore an aspect of what's going on with rights-talk in Western democracies and the U.N. that I think is important.

On the conservative side of the aisle, it mostly is as you outlined. But on the left side of the political divide, the drift has been to use rights-talk as a stalking horse for expansion of socialist agendas. These agendas find their roots not in a Hobbesian hyper-individualism, but in a Marxist collectivism. The general schema is to promise "rights" to a group (in traditional communism it was to "the workers"), then use the dependency created by the governmental grant of those rights to control and manipulate the group. A classic example is the Chinese Communist Party. Although ostensibly founded to free the workers in China, what has evolved is a state capitalism overseen by the wealthiest elite in the history of the world. The Democrat Party has become adept at promising its constituencies "rights" of various sorts, then manipulating them to support it even against their best interests. This is the spirit of the beehive, not hyper-individualism.
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written by Jack,CT, December 09, 2012
Mr Smith,
With all due respect I see this piece
as a "Rant"
There is a reason for the seperation of Church
and State, all you seemed to achieve was to
depress a group of people.
Jack
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written by Jack,CT, December 09, 2012
FYI: 33 years ago today the most Venerable
Fulton J Sheen was found passed away in his
Chapel, the Novena Dedicated to him ended
today.
I ask that we all send a prayer up for his
cause for Sainthood. Thanks,
Jack
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written by Dave, December 09, 2012
If I may, I too would like to respond to "diaperman" and to Professor Smith, first by thanking the professor for his excellent essay and his excellent response to "diaperman"'s comment, which showed, I think, a lack of attention not only to Professor Smith's bibliography here but also to the many other authors who are making the same general point throughout the pages of this blog: for society to function well, the Church must exercise her rights and duties, and this exercise includes not only the exercise of her teaching office and her right to worship and to regulate her own affairs (in matters such as, say, the health care benefit provisions her various local churches and their various organizations make to employees), but also the right to announce the Gospel, and to live it, in the public square. So the gravity of the abortion matter, which Professor Smith so eloquently sets forth, is amplified by regulations adopted by the Administration that would not only advance the availability of abortion, and also of contraceptive methods disallowed in natural law, and by the advancement of their availability, their practice as well, but to force those who oppose such activities and behaviors on the basis of conscience and deeply considered religious beliefs to act against those beliefs, face onerous fines, or be driven out of the public square. One party said it is right so to coerce the Catholic Church, other religious institutions, and business owners (whether of the for- or non-profit kinds); one party said it is not. The same party that said coercion is right also says that marriage is a social construct capable of being redefined to include couples (or more, in time?) of the same sex; and one said it is not. In this case, whatever deficiencies in economic, political, or even social policy that one may adduce against the GOP were more than amply outweighed by its willingness not to advance the redefinition of marriage (though there be many in the GOP who would), nor to advance the practices that the HHS mandate enshrines (though, again, there be many in the GOP who have no objection to them), and by its willingness to undo the Sibelius regulations. In the face of fundamental assaults against the liberty of the Church and against the liberty of any organization or business entity to insure or not as their consciences may demand, it is clear why so many at this blog -- writing for it and commenting upon it -- wanted the GOP to win, its many flaws notwithstanding. Professor Smith's article strikes me as a very prudent call for all Catholics to be Catholics first and to answer our society's hyper-individualism by enunciating a more compelling vision of people and society that is based not only or solely in Church teaching (which is binding, principally and generally, on her faithful alone) but also in the perduring principles of a realist philosophy that shows why everything is not simply a matter of definition nor is the goal of life merely to find that set of circumstances, conditions, and practices that satisfy oneself. It strikes me as a clarion call to put first things first and to realize that by doing so, everything changes. I thank him again for what he wrote.
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written by diaperman, December 09, 2012
Thanks Mr. Smith....Based on what you just wrote and your above article I do see an honest attempt on your part to wrestle with the totality of Church teachings.

As for other prominent voices on the Catholic right, not so much. I'm not allowed to link to things on this site...indeed I'd be very surprised if you could produce even one example of Novak, Sirico or Weigel criticizing late 20th century capitalism or Republican policies which have furthered it (Arkes I'm not sure of) or uttering one word of support for efforts to try to mitigate it. Certainly that is not the overall tenor of their work and it shows.

Yes the market has made the country as a whole much richer...but in doing so has also produced a number of undesirable side effects which should concern any Catholic (access to affordable health care, housing, wage stagnation, unemployment, income inequality, lack of job security, too much indebtedness etc.). These authors are mainly focused on defending GOP policies on these things which is to say they are not concerned with them, because clearly the GOP isn't concerned with them. Let's be honest. When Paul Ryan disingenuously invokes Church teachings to support his program of dramatic spending cuts in aid to the poor and the elderly married with yet another round of tax cuts targeted to high income Americans, these authors utter not a peep of protest and actually seek to try to defend Ryan. Similarly with George Bush the Iraq war,, and just war doctrine. There's evidently really nothing the GOP can do to lose the support of these guys as long as they continue to nominate candidates who pay lip service to us on abortion.

Bottom line. Mr. Smith, we're being taken advantage of--as I see it. We imagine that we pro-life Catholics control the GOP on abortion. The reality is that they control us on just about every other issue and have for quite some time. And this fact has actually hurt our ability to speak credibly on abortion (but that's another topic)

I just wish that you'd speak a little more candidly about the problem, and show a little more empathy for voters like me who can still barely bring ourselves to pull the GOP lever but feel they are rapidly approaching the day when they can't

Thanks for your reply.
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written by gregorynotsogreat, December 09, 2012
I just stumbled on this post today. It breaks my heart sometimes feeling handcuffed to vote (R)..I'm not as well read as some of you gentlemen but I still let my Catholic teaching be my guide for the most part. We all know what's wrong.. inconsistent people as far as I can see.Sometimes I think that the (D) party sold out (abortion). And the (R)'s hijacked the Christian electorate. Either way I can"t remember a time when its been this messed up. The only thing that's consistent is Catholic teaching. I'm still hoping for the day when some media high profile media personality steps up and says"Enough!" in regards to jabs catholics have to endure. Professor Smith and mr diaper-man both made excellent points
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written by John K, December 09, 2012
"It seems we have lost the ability to carry on serious, adult conversations in public about issues crucial to the common good."

As a way to change this I suggest that all Catholics register as independents instead of one of the major political parties.

Then let both parties know what it would take to get their votes. Perhaps this would move both parties into caring about (or at least appearing to be interested) in the common good.
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written by Carole T., December 09, 2012
Do we believe that Catholics should have some set idea or some set standard of what charity is within our culture and then have government enforce this? Who might be the one(s) that could set the 'just right' standards?
Charity is a beautiful virtue given as a grace to us by God, we know this as Catholics, to be so. this can be lived and practiced within our everyday freedoms, whether we make use of it in government, ecomony, or any part of our culture. The fairly modern term "social justice" is not within the writings of the Bible...it would be better to be called charity, it would be more forthright and honest. We would not have had the freedoms that we have had in our country if those men that founded our country had not been greatly influenced by our Lord, it was really He that brought those freedoms to us, wanting us to manage and use them with charity. Free markets when used with charity are part of true freedom and are necessary for a free country.
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written by Other Joe, December 10, 2012
It seems to me that one may be a good capitalist and see the value of market forces as a regulator of market process, and still be a loving Christian with an abiding interest in the welfare of others because welfare is understood to be about morality. The seven deadly sins apply. Greed lust and gluttony are at the fore. The mechanism of distribution is moral or immoral depending on how it is practiced. The seven virtues apply. Charity is at the fore.

One cannot be a statist and a good Christian because the state can only define welfare in a political, material sense. We see the result all around the world. The data are in - the obvious conclusion is purposely overlooked because the standard of moral judgment is prohibited.
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written by Morrie, December 10, 2012
"Do we really want every institution in America to serve the autonomous hyper-individualism that is at the root of both current American liberalism and current American laissez-faire free-market capitalism? Or can we as Catholics help America find a new vision of society, based on the communal and relational dimensions of the human person?"

What works on a more practical level- the idea that every one should is an invidividual and free to choose to work hard, raise a good family, help their fellow man, etc. or the notion that the state will take care of you from cadle to grave? The latter notion now prevails and our economy, healthcare system, and general welfare will suffer as a result.We now worship the state instead of God.


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written by thomas tucker, December 10, 2012
Bravo. Excellent artile laying out the problems.
Where I despair for our country is in understanding what we as individuals can do about these problems, particularly with regard to the media and the materialsim of the culture.
Yes, we can try to raise our children to understand the truths, but I suspect that this is too little too late for the country at large.
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written by Ed Hamilton, December 10, 2012
The situation you describe is yet another reason of turning to God. I think basic evangelization is needed more then anything else. We need Christ. The road to making our society a Civilization of Love is conversion. You can set everything right in legislation and if noone believes in even basic Natural Law, you still have a civilization in decline.
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written by John, December 10, 2012
I think it's a false dicotomy to declare that whereas Liberals love an overarching, all powerful state, conservatives are anarchists loving nothing but private enterprise and business.

Not so. Not by a long shot. Virtually every conservative holds that government is necessary - at least to the point that we can have police and courts to enforce contracts and protect private property.

This existed in the 1700s through the early 1900s. Most people did not owe taxes to the federal government or receive any direct monetary benefit from the far off federal government. Most people owed taxes and hence alligiance to their local, county and state governments and to juries of their peers.

So I would suggest we don't get buffaloed into presuming we're faced with either tyranny or anarchy.
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written by Dave Hahn, December 10, 2012
We are in a spiritual battle. we are battling satan. The weapons we need to rely upon are the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration. Pope Pius IX said give me an Army praying the rosary and I will conquer the world. when Mother Theresa was asked what will convert America and save the world she responded, What we need is for ever person to come before our Lord in holy hours of prayer. John Paul II asked that every parish have perpetual adoration. Had we done this when he asked we would have the upper hand on the battle of the culture of death. That is not to say we shouldn't be active in trying to change the world. However if we are not first praying the rosary and adoring the Lord in Eucharistic adoration on a daily bases our other efforts will not bear fruit or much fruit. Now people say yes yes we need to pray I am all for that at mention it once in a while. However they talk more about and put more effort into organizing activism. I think we need to put more of our efforts into organizing 24/7 adoration and Rosary groups than in all the activist events or strategies. This is what will give us success in our other battles.
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written by Jacob Morgan, December 10, 2012
The media is a huge problem. Even if it were not for the bizarre bias (if the major media outlets were owned by the DNC, it would change what?), the level of intellect is beyond pathetic. Everything reduced to a sound bite. Reporting what so and do said, versus what the other so and so said--who gets to pick the quotes, and what happened to just reporting the facts? And rightly so, the article points out the 24/7 gaffe patrol (against Republicans at least), which means everything is scripted.

Think about the breathless reporting that Pope Benedict approved condoms, or said that Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem, etc. If you're a journalist you get to just make crap up, so long as it pushes the correct agenda. How is anyone supposed to win against that? Even a billion dollar ad campaign, through the media, just feeds the beast that missreported the news in the first place.

The people who wanted to lead good lives and enjoy life did so, the secular minority took over the media and the schools to influence others. The 2012 election was the outcome.
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written by Frank, December 10, 2012
Russell Shaw writes in the "The Catholic World Report," November 29, 2012; "The Cardinal looked grim, "This is the situation now," he said. "One political party is dangerous and the other is stupid." The identity of the Cardinal is not known and Shaw won't reveal the name.
These are the cards we've been dealt. The challenge before us is to win with them.
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written by JP, December 11, 2012
Well written though it is articles like this continue to surprise me. As Catholics, fully aware that this decline is prophecies, why do so many stand around debating the rationale for everything that's happening. Wouldn't it in fact be far more useful, and fulfilling instead to fall to our knees, pray the rosary, deeply examine our consciences, truly begin to live a life in imitation of Christ and pray deeply for the individuals steering our world into its penultimate conclusion?
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written by Mara319, December 11, 2012
This article tells me nothing. I'm not registered in either party, but to equate D's and R's differing values is not the way to evaluate the situation.
There's a good reason the Ten Commandments are arranged that way. From the Fourth Commandment on (those dealing with relationships to other people), they concern family, life, and sexuality first (the values that D's platform violates)because they are more important than the Sixth, Seventh, Eight and Ninth Commandments (which this article suggests that the R's violate.) Therefore D is not equal to R. The choice was clear. Catholics who are serious about their faith could not have voted D.
So who Catholics were they? Surveys say they were mostly Hispanics. They didn't care that the D's supported abortion and homosexuality - they voted their own interest. No, not even immigration (according to Dr. Hanson, immigration is not the Hispanic's number one issue). It's entitlement. A newly-arrived Hispanic kid can easily go on Affirmative Action scholarship even if historically, Hispanics have no rights to it. Going on Affirmative Action should be a violation of the Seventh Commandment, but who cares? Once he becomes a voter, the kid is not going to vote R. He votes D.
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written by Graham Combs, December 11, 2012
My "takeaway" from the election is that the Constitutional Era of American history is coming to an end. No one can deny the contempt with which the president's world view is infused -- for the powerful restraints on state power once acknowledged in the Constitution.

But the schools -- Catholic and public -- are obviously doing a shabby job of education overall when it comes to civic culture. One Catholic high school in the northern suburbs of Detroit had for many years a teacher who fed the young girls on a steady diet of Foner, Zinn et al and was celebrated for it in the pages of the Detroit News when he retired. I rarely meet a fellow babyboomer who recalls religious instruction in a Catholic school with anything but disdain. Or perplexity. But as with catechetical studies in the parishes, the enthusastically orthodox are discouraged from participating or warned for being too Catholic. I'm at the point where I'm ready to leave the parish where I entered the Church but which I could never formerly become member in any case. As at least one Catholic commentator has insisted -- we have to stop blaming Obama for everything. Which seems to be the ecclesiastical line in most archdioceses in America. Hypocrisy? Yes for some. As Seinfeld once asked, "Community? What community? For me what American identity? The institutional Church discourages it and has consequently participated not only in the division the country that now seems permanent, but in a more disturbing division with the Church herself.

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