The first question we must deal with is whether McBrien and Chittister are sincere, or if they are using the Church’s teachings to further the agenda of the Democratic Party. We can test them. What do you think they would say to a Catholic who agreed with them that a Catholic has a responsibility to seek social justice on the very issues that concern them, but proposed the following ways to achieve that goal?
What if our imaginary Catholic contended that his goal was to improve our society’s child-care and educational systems by promoting vouchers so that parents could escape the public school monopoly? What if his answer to the housing needs of our people was to end rent control and union work rules that increase construction costs? If his efforts to provide quality health care for the small number of uninsured in our country started with the premise that we should not tamper with the essentials of the employer-provided, private insurance system that has made quality health care such a great bargain for over 80 percent of the American people? Do you think Chittister and McBrien would be nodding in approval at his way of grappling with the issues?
What if his preferred method of dealing with racial injustice was to end the reverse discrimination against working-class white students implicit in affirmative action programs? What if he was convinced on the basis of his reading of Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman that the only socially just approach to taxation was to repeal the current loophole-ridden tax code in favor of a flat tax? What if his analysis of the world scene convinced him that a vigorous application of American military force was the only realistic way to deal with the threat of world terrorism? Do you think McBrien and Chittister would invite him to their next symposium as an example of a Catholic who was dedicated to seeking social justice? I don’t think so.
What if our imaginary Catholic took up McBrien’s challenge to deal with the issue of “sexual orientation” from a Catholic perspective by applying the Church’s teaching that homosexual actions are either sins or a manifestation of a severe psychological disorder; and if he insisted that we keep this in mind when considering the questions of homosexual marriage, adoption and hiring practices in schools and other child-care facilities? Do you think McBrien would pat him on the back for his concern for issues of life that arise after birth?
Come on — it is obvious. McBrien’s and Chittister’s use of the term “pro-birth” for pro-life Catholics is not meant to prod Catholics into focusing on questions of social justice from a Catholic perspective. It is meant to nudge Catholics into thinking that it is necessary for them to support the big-government social programs favored by liberal Democrats as an example of what they call a “consistent ethic of life.” Which is humbug. McBrien and Chittister are acting as political partisans, not teachers of the Faith or the Magisterium.