Catholics and Politics: The Dynamic Tension between Faith and Power

By Kristin E. Heyer; Mark J. Rozell et al. | Go to book overview

5
BETWEEN CHURCH,
PARTY, AND CONSCIENCE
Protecting Life and Promoting Social Justice
among U.S. Catholics

MARK M. GRAY AND MARY E. BENDYNA

A Catholic moral framework does not easily fit the ideologies of “right” or “left,” or the
platforms of any party. Our values are often not “politically correct.” Believers are called
to be a community of conscience within the larger society and to test public life by the val-
ues of Scripture and the principles of Catholic social teaching. Our responsibility is to meas-
ure all candidates, policies, parties, and platforms by how they protect or undermine the
life, dignity, and rights of the human person, whether they protect the poor and vulnera-
ble and advance the common good
.

—United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

AS THE STATEMENT by the U.S. Catholic bishops above indicates, the teachings of the Catholic Church as well as pronouncements made by its leaders are often at odds with the partisan and ideological organization of the U.S. political system. The Church is opposed to abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the death penalty and supports immigration and immigrant rights, social welfare programs for the poor, and programs to provide affordable and accessible health care and housing.1 This combination of issue stances cuts across the official platforms of both the Democratic and Republican Parties as well as the more general ideological distribution of issue positions in the U.S. political discourse between conservatives and lib

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