For starters, Catholicism doesn’t neatly fit into any box or political party, anymore than Jesus would if he were forced to join a 2012 political party. That said, being that the Catholic Faith is the keeper (in fullness), of the immutable teachings of Jesus Christ, any serious Catholic need only look at the issues/party platforms at hand, and apply them accordingly to the party that either holds most of them or, if in both cases, when or if intrinsic evils are part of their platforms, vote with the side upholding the “lesser of the intrinsic evils.”
A true Catholic is always, “Catholic First.”
So, let’s consider the issues at hand, starting with Catholic communitarian social teachings. In a perfect world, where we all loved and served God, the “one size fits all” could actually work. “Let’s just throw it all into one pot and use as needed, according to our needs.” Outside of Catholic monastic monasteries (where that is the case), any bets how long that would last in America? One need look no further than a busy afternoon at a Costco when the free food samples are flowing. Rest assured, despite those who line up and wait their turn for a small sample, among them will always be the ones who barge in and grab as much as two hands can hold.
What does work, and in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching, is subsidiarity and solidarity, together, both the hallmark of Paul Ryan’s plan, which by the way, is also approved by his Bishop. Farther Barron of Word of Fire has also weighed in, with a short and excellent video explaining not only the “First Things vs Commonweal debate”, but even more so, the correct teaching of the Catholic Church.
It also needs to be pointed out that Ryan is not and never was an Objectivist. One can easily agree with Ayn Rand’s philosophy on free markets or Austrian Economics while totally disagreeing with a selfish Godless personal philosophy. In addition, who teaches the dignity and necessity of work more than the Catholic Church? How any Catholic can justify the recently imperialistic “executive order “work no longer necessary for welfare” is beyond logical thinking and the best interests of the least among us.
The reality is, we are drowning in debt of which the bulk will be passed on to our children. Yes, we all need health care, but not a plan mired in taxes, hidden regulations, and government calling the shots. Part of the Republican platform is not just a repeal of the ACA, but a “redo” of it, in a more affordable and higher quality way for all. We should all want that.
As for the always hot button issues of abortion and same sex marriage, it’s not necessary to debate the differences between Ryan and Biden. Life, and marriage between a man and women, is the heart of the gospels. Abortion and gay ‘marriage’ are clearly against the teachings of the Catholic Church, no exceptions, ever, even in those rare cases of rape and incest. That said, it’s easy to understand why the rape and incest inclusions are beyond radical to our American Culture.
Let’s take the worst case scenario: brutal rape of a 13 year old resulting in pregnancy. Would even the “best” Catholic allow his or her daughter to endure such a pregnancy, even if the baby were going to be put up for adoption? I suspect only the ones who believe in something our culture can’t and probably will never grasp; true martyrdom. Yes, it’s a heavy cross indeed, but is it heavier than the one Christ or His mother carried? Perhaps this real life story of a nun, Sister Lucy Vertursac, raped in Serbia in 1995 will help at least a few understand how a real Catholic discerns a gut wrenching decision; a profound example of Christian Martyrdom. This letter was published in an Italian Newspaper.
"I am Lucy, one of the young nuns raped by the Serbian soldiers. I am writing to you, Mother, after what happened to my sisters Tatiana, Sandria, and me.
Allow me not to go into the details of the act. There are some experiences in life so atrocious that you cannot tell them to anyone but God, in whose service I had consecrated my life nearly a year ago.
My drama is not so much the humiliation that I suffered as a woman, not the incurable offense committed against my vocation as a religious, but the difficulty of having to incorporate into my faith an event that certainly forms part of the mysterious will of Him whom I have always considered my Divine Spouse.
Only a few days before, I had read "Dialogues of Carmelites" and spontaneously I asked our Lord to grant me the grace of joining the ranks of those who died a martyr of Him. God took me at my word, but in such a horrid way! Now I find myself lost in the anguish of internal darkness. He has destroyed the plans of my life, which I considered definitive and uplifting for me, and He has set me all of a sudden in this design of His that I feel incapable of grasping.
When I was a teenager, I wrote in my Diary: Nothing is mine, I belong to no one, and no one belongs to me. Someone, instead grabbed me one night, a night I wish never to remember, tore me off from myself, and tried to make me his own . . .
It was already daytime when I awoke and my first thought was the agony of Christ in the Garden. Inside of me a terrible battle unleashed. I asked myself why God had permitted me to be rent, destroyed precisely in what had been the meaning of my life, but also I asked to what new vocation He was calling me.
I strained to get up, and helped by Sister Josefina, I managed to straighten myself out. Then the sound of the bell of the Augustinian convent, which was right next to ours, reached my ears. It was time for nine o'clock matins.
I made the sign of the cross and began reciting in my head the liturgical hymn. At this hour upon Golgotha's heights,/ Christ, the true Pascal Lamb,/ paid the price of our salvation.
What is my suffering, Mother, and the offense I received compared to the suffering and the offense of the One for whom I had a thousand times sworn to give my life. I spoke these words slowly, very slowly: May your will be done, above all now that 1 have no where to go and that I can only be sure of one thing: You are with me.
Mother, I am writing not in search of consolation, but so that you can help me give thanks to God for having associated me with the thousands of my fellow compatriots whose honor has been violated, and who are compelled to accept a maternity not wanted. My humiliation is added to theirs, and since I have nothing else to offer in expiation for the sin committed by those unnamed violators and for the reconciliation of the two embittered peoples, I accept this dishonor that I suffered and I entrust it to the mercy of God.
Do not be surprised, Mother, when I ask you to share with me my "thank you" that can seem absurd.
In these last months I have been crying a sea of tears for my two brothers who were assassinated by the same aggressors who go around terrorizing our towns, and I was thinking that it was not possible for me to suffer anything worse, so far from my imagination had been what was about to take place.
Every day hundreds of hungering creatures used to knock at the doors of our convent, shivering from the cold, with despair in their eyes. Some weeks ago, a young boy about eighteen years old said to me: How lucky you are to have chosen a refuge where no evil can reach you. The boy carried in his hands a rosary of praises for the Prophet. Then he added: You will never know what it means to be dishonored.
I pondered his words at length and convinced myself that there had been a hidden element to the sufferings of my people that had escaped me as I was almost ashamed to be so excluded. Now I am one of them, one of the many unknown women of my people, whose bodies have been devastated and hearts seared. The Lord had admitted me into his mystery of shame. What is more, for me, a religious, He has accorded me the privilege of being acquainted with evil in the depths of its diabolical force.
I know that from now on the words of encouragement and consolation that I can offer from my poor heart will be all the more credible, because my story is their story, and my resignation, sustained in faith, at least a reference, if not example for their moral and emotional responses.
All it takes is a sign, a little voice, a fraternal gesture to set in motion the hopes of so many undiscovered creatures.
God has chosen me-may He forgive my presumption-to guide the most humble of my people towards the dawn of redemption and freedom. They can no longer doubt the sincerity of my words, because I come, as they do, from the outskirts of revilement and profanation.
I remember the time when I used to attend the university at Rome in order to get my masters in Literature, an ancient Slavic woman, the professor of Literature, used to recite to me these verses from the poet Alexej Mislovic: You must not die/because you have been chosen/ to be a part of the day.
That night, in which I was terrorized by the Serbs for hours and hours, I repeated to myself these verses, which I felt as balm for my soul, nearly mad with despair.
And now, with everything having passed and looking back, I get the impression of having been made to swallow a terrible pill.
Everything has passed, Mother, but everything begins. In your telephone call, after your words of encouragement, for which I am grateful with all my life, you posed me a very direct question: What will you do with the life that has been forced into your womb? I heard your voice tremble as you asked me the question, a question I felt needed no immediate response; not because I had not yet considered the road I would have to follow, but so as not to disturb the plans you would eventually have to unveil before me. I had already decided. I will be a mother. The child will be mine and no one else's. I know that I could entrust him to other people, but he-though I neither asked for him nor expected him-he has a right to my love as his mother. A plant should never be torn from its roots. The grain of wheat fallen in the furrow has to grow there, where the mysterious, though iniquitous sower threw it.
I will fulfill my religious vocation in another way. I will ask nothing of my congregation, which has already given me everything. I am very grateful for the fraternal solidarity of the Sisters, who in these times have treated me with the utmost delicacy and kindness, especially for never having asked any uncareful questions.
I will go with my child. I do not know where, but God, who broke all of a sudden my greatest joy, will indicate the path I must tread in order to do His will.
I will be poor again, I will return to the old aprons and the wooden shoes that the women in the country use for working, and I will accompany my mother into the forest to collect the resin from the slits in the trees.
Someone has to begin to break the chain of hatred that has always destroyed our countries. And so, I will teach my child only one thing: love. This child, born of violence, will be a witness along with me that the only greatness that gives honor to a human being is forgiveness.
Through the Kingdom of Christ for the Glory of God.
Perhaps it’s time for all Catholics to ask the rarely if ever asked question (s), how Catholic am I, really? Am I radical, counter cultural, willing to pick up my cross and follow Christ, regardless of its weight , shame, or life changing consequences as Christ asked of all of us? If called, would, or could, I say yes to martyrdom?
Lastly, if the most we are asked as well blessed Americans is to vote for the party most closely associated with the teachings of Christ and His Church, are we even able to do that much, or will our ideologies and comfortable lifestyles continue to blind us?
Will we as Catholics, to whom more has certainly been given, in probably the most important election of our lifetimes, be voting “Catholic or comfortable?” The “Catholic” decision is beyond obvious .