Whither thou loyalty?

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Sep 12, 2003

Your Catholic Voice is a new grassroots political organization designed to "motivate, educate, and activate Catholic citizens for political and social participation." The group's president is Ray Flynn, former mayor of Boston and former Clinton ambassador to the Vatican.

In an article on the group's web site, Flynn posits that a good Catholic should neither claim loyalty to either the Democrat or Republican party.

A question I have often been asked is, "Can you be a good Catholic and a Democrat in light of the Democratic Party's positions on life and family?" But another question might also be, "Can you be a good Catholic and a Republican in light of the Church's moral positions on social and economic justice and the death penalty?" My response to both of these questions is a question of my own.

Can you be a good Catholic and support either a Democratic or Republican candidate who opposes Church teachings on each of these vitally important principles of our Catholic faith? Both parties reach out to Catholic voters claiming that they best represent their values on the issues. So what's the answer? The following statement may upset leaders of both political parties, who believe it is they who deserve the support of Catholic voices. Which party should faithful Catholics vote for? I say neither party reflects the values and principles of the Catholic faith and I'll explain why.

I'll accept Flynn's point that good Catholics must put their adherence to the Church's teachings first, before loyalty to any particular political party. That's just common sense.

I don't buy into every Republican plank in their party platform and I'm opposed to the legalization of the death penalty in our country based on what our country can do to insure justice without it. However, I can't believe Flynn's thesis here. You can't equate the Democrats' pro-abortion, pro-sexual perversity positions with the Republicans' stance on economic and social issues.

For the Democrats, their positions cannot be reconciled with the Church's clear doctrine. For Republicans, their positions on economics and "social justice" can be justified in relation to Church teaching and are a matter of prudential judgment. It's just not the same thing and I think Flynn's liberal political sympathies are showing here.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 15, 2003 2:20 PM ET USA

    Dear crust, Although my first comment has not been posted yet, I am led by the Spirit to "back off" a bit. I don't know what struggles you are going through, but I know "working through" one's postion in God and with the Church can be quite painful. Pronouncements such as are found on this web-site can seem quite cold and self-righteous. I apologize for any communicated insensitivity. There are many particular circumtances that call for discernment, patience and compassion. Hang in there!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 1:03 PM ET USA

    Crust: "Any space out there for those of us who see many church issues as close calls?" Steeltoe: No. There is clearly space for you personally within the Church. But there is no space for "close calls" on "many church issues" when it compromises the Magisterium's teaching on Faith and Morals. If you are "personally" having a "close call" with a doctrinal issue, it might be worth examining why you're having one.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2003 10:19 AM ET USA

    I find myself in fundamental agreement with Ray Flynn...and the seamless garment. Sounds to me like CWNews readers, or at least those who respond to Sound Off!, have all the answers, all the 'right' answers. Any space out there for those of us who see many church issues as close calls? The parallel dogmatism of Catholic traditionalists and progressives confounds me.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2003 8:32 AM ET USA

    Ray Flynn's statement (Yes I realize, I am a life long Democrat) needs to change. His hero Pat Moynihan was the 1st to endorse Hillary. Did Flynn report to Hilly or Billy when in Rome? My father was a life long democrat, however, if he were still living at 99 I can guarandamntee that he would not die a dem. Ray must have been over exposed to Drinan. Have him take stock in todays MA Dems. Does he take any tutoring credit? Get out now. Don't mix fly specs & pepper on abortion v death penalty.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 12, 2003 9:53 PM ET USA

    Fynn clears his throat a few times but doesn't answer the question directly. For me the answer is simple: if both candidates are pro-aborts, then vote Republican. This is a dressed-up version of the political condom called the "seamless garment": the political cover for bishops to support pro-abortion Democrats because those mean Republicans wouldn't force the middle class to pay for their social cause de jour.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2003 8:18 PM ET USA

    I agree with Mr. Bettinelli's response. If I may mention this on someone else's blogsite, the magazine I edit, *Touchstone*, did an issue titled "The Godless Party" exploring this very question. It can be found at < http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.3docs/index_16.3.html >. Rod Dreher (a contributing editor) wrote the main article, and James Hitchcock (a member of the editorial board) one on the Democratic Party.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2003 6:58 PM ET USA

    I totally agree with Mr. Bettinelli. However, the position of Ambassador Flynn seems very close to the usual "moderate" Catholic position taken by any number of priests and bishops. Moreover, the Republican Party is not dealing unjustly in the areas of social welfare and economics. That liberal perception is strictly a myth and a libel.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2003 5:21 PM ET USA

    Quote: "former Clinton ambassador to the Vatican." aka "former Clinton condom dispenser at the Vatican". Thanks for all your years of hard work Mr. Flynn. Did Mr Clinton's abortapalooza policies ever disturb you?