Catholic Moment Kaput

Ross Douthat has a column in Sunday's Times looking back to the funeral of John Paul II, which he sees as "The End of a Catholic Moment" at least in the U.S."The mid-2000s were the last time the Catholic vision of the good society more egalitarian than American conservatism and more moralistic than American liberalism enjoyed real influence in U.S. politics. At the time of John Pauls death, the Republican Partys agenda was still stamped by George W. Bushs compassionate conservatism, which offered a right-of-center approach to Catholic ideas about social justice. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, was looking for ways to woo the values voters (many of them Catholic) who had just helped Bush win re-election, and prominent Democrats were calling for a friendlier attitude toward religion and a bigger tent on social issues."The phrase is Richard Neuhaus's (from his 1987 book of that title). Douthat does not suggest that the mid-2000s is what Neuhaus had in mind. Nor does he think we should expect another "Catholic Moment" of a political sort any time soon.What a relief! An opportunity for us to engage in serious reflection. Someone tell the bishops.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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