Pope Benedict subverts the party line
NCR’s John Allen posts a transcript of Pope Benedict XVI’s in-flight “press conference”* on his way to Mexico (he heads to Cuba today), that includes this standard conservative talking point about being a “personally opposed but…” kind of Catholic:
One sees in Latin America, and also elsewhere, among many Catholics a certain schizophrenia between individual and public morality. Personally, in the individual sphere, they’re Catholics, believers, but in public life they follow other paths that don’t correspond to the great values of the Gospel which are necessary for the foundation of a just society.
Except, oops, B16 is talking about social justice and the gap between rich and poor, and the need to bring the church’s social teaching — all of it — to bear on political life:
Certainly, in the light of faith we can see many things more clearly that reason can also see, but it’s precisely the faith that also serves to liberate reason from false interests and the obscurity imposed by those interests, thereby creating in the social doctrine the substantive models for political collaboration, above all for overcoming this social division – which is truly anti-social – that unfortunately exists.
Sort of complicates things for Catholic conservatives and Paul Ryan Republicans. Not that you’d know from our political and ecclesial discourse.
* The “air quotes” are to denote that “press conference” is a rather liberal term to describe these pre-fab exchanges in which questions are submitted ahead of time and assigned to particular journalists to “ask.”
UPDATE: John takes this line and runs with it.
UPDATE II: At MOJ, Rick Garnett responds to my post (and also Michael Sean and John Allen), kind of agreeing but also saying he doesn’t know Catholic conservatives who fit the description of not taking social justice teachings seriously. At NCR, MSW calls BS on that, but in a nice way:
C’mon, Rick. Have you ever watched an EWTN interview between Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Robert Sirico? In what meaningful way do either of them address the preferential option for the poor that is an integral part of the Church’s social teaching? Or, their defense of torture, which is not only a violation of the Church’s teaching but is an “intrinsic evil”? Surely, you saw some of the GOP debates in which all of the candidates pledged to support the Arizona anti-immigration law which not only threatens the well-being of immigrants, in direct contradiction of many and repeated statements by the Holy Father and by the U.S. bishops but which also raises direct and dangerous threats to the religious liberty of Catholics who minister to the needs of immigrants. Or, you might note that turbo-Catholic Rick Santorum called out President Obama for exercising a “phony theology” regarding the need to protect the environment, even though if you follow recent papal statements, the proper indictment of Obama’s environmental policies would be that they do not go far enough. Do you not recall George Weigel getting out his red and gold pens when evaluating Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate? If that is not a “party line,” what is it?