Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Election Time Again

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 14, 2004

Every four years the USCCB puts out a voting guide which, in nervous and indirect language, invites U.S. Catholics to wring their hands for ten minutes outside the polling booth before voting Democratic. Not surprisingly the guides tend to be light on theology and big on the importance of daily flossing, say, or responsible lawn care. Check out the following focus question from the latest specimen:

How will we address the tragic fact that more than 30,000 children die every day as a result of hunger, international debt, and lack of development around the world, as well as the fact that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be poor here in the richest nation on Earth?

Can a child really die as a result of international debt the way his brother dies as a result of hunger? Has any child ever died as a result of lack of development? Why is it a tragic fact that "the younger you are, the more likely you are to be poor here in the richest nation on Earth"? How is this a worse scenario than "the older you are, the more likely you are to be poor"?

To raise such objections to Responsible Citizenship is in deplorable taste, obviously, but also beside the point. The document is by design morally frivilous: its purpose is anaesthetic, not educative. If a high school girl offers a prayer at a youth retreat that we forgive Zambia's debt, it's unsporting to ask her to explain the consequences for foreign investment and for the rural economy. The USCCB, like this globally aware sophomore, is out to teach us neither moral theology nor economics but to help numb the conscience as we yank the lever for Ted Kennedy or Barney Frank. If famine were truly a moral concern to a bishop, instead of an onion hidden in his political hanky, he couldn't write this kind of blather.

Well then, what might he write?

"When I ponder the thousands of children who will die of famine before this day is out, and when I consider the millions of dollars my diocese has spent simply to keep its priests out of the prison that their crimes deserve, and when I realize that this same money might not only feed many of these children but help them make a down payment on a Buick, I confess I tremble for the salvation of my soul. Accordingly I have decided, by way of penance and reparation, to halve my annual salary, sell my beach house, fast two days a week, and donate the difference to the Missionaries of Charity. May God in His infinite mercy spare me at the Last Assize."

Hint: don't look for many changes in the 2008 edition.

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