Monday, July 17, 2017

An Interesting Comment on Christian Moral Teaching

I was pointed to a new article from La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit publication based in the Vatican. Notably, the Wikipedia article about it states, "It is the only [publication] to be directly revised by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and to receive its approval before being published." The article, published in English, is titled "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism." (And thanks to IT at the Friends of Jake blog for pointing to it.)

The article raises very interesting questions about the political alignment between (political) Conservative Evangelicals and (political) Conservative Roman Catholics. While I would encourage my readers to read it in detail (and, it isn't either so long or so complicated as to make that difficult), I can point to the one theme I think important. The article points to the model of Pope Francis in trying to embrace the full breadth of Roman Catholic social teaching. That is, the Catholic Church is equally concerned about abortion, poverty, and stewardship of the earth. It has teachings on providing medical care to all, on serving the most needy, and on pursuing peace, as well as on human sexuality.

The point is not that the Catholic Church has changed any of the teachings that progressives might find difficult. It is, rather, also to embrace those teachings that progressives might agree with, and to challenge the pursuit of political power as a form of enforcing moral authority.

And on this last, it is especially pointed. Francis is leading in this, but he is not the model. As the last paragraph states,

This is why Francis is carrying forward a systematic counter-narration with respect to the narrative of fear. There is a need to fight against the manipulation of this season of anxiety and insecurity. Again, Francis is courageous here and gives no theological-political legitimacy to terrorists, avoiding any reduction of Islam to Islamic terrorism. Nor does he give it to those who postulate and want a “holy war” or to build barrier-fences crowned with barbed wire. The only crown that counts for the Christian is the one with thorns that Christ wore on high. (emphasis mine)