Topsy-Turvy Morality in Politics

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 22, 2012

I can’t help but reflect that, in the correspondence we receive here, those who criticize liberal political leaders typically say things like, “He is pro-abortion.” And those who criticize conservative political leaders typically say things like, “He doesn’t care about the poor.” One is a statement of fact and the other a moral judgment.

I further note that liberal Catholic correspondents are frequently open to politicians who deviate from Catholic teaching on intrinsic moral evils but closed to politicians who fail to accept their own specific applications of Catholic social teaching (about which good Catholics can prudentially disagree). On the other hand, conservative Catholic correspondents are almost universally closed to politicians who deviate from Catholic teaching on intrinsic moral evils, but they can typically accommodate prudential applications of Catholic social teaching which differ from what they think is best.

Or at least that is the impression I have formed of the correspondence we receive here. It is possible, of course, that we do not have a representative sample. It is also possible that this tells us something about the authentic nature of moral seriousness.

In any case, this is just one of those things which, while attempting to mind my own business, I have observed.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: djpeterson - Aug. 22, 2012 4:26 PM ET USA

    The Akin’s incident is very typical of all our top politicos. It seems that Paul Ryan who has been a steadfast Catholic who opposes abortion is waffling under pressure from the feminists, the media and the GOP elites. As with Gov. Romney, people like Akin can easily make a blunder. Unfortunately, Cong. Ryan now looks like a political hack who is willing to throw his pro-life allies under the bus when it suits his current ambitions.