“the peculiar universe of the American Right”

A Left-wing conservative blog deals with the American Rights strange preoccupations: “Laurie Goodstein at The New York Times has written an enlightening article about the reactions of self-styled U.S. conservative Catholics to Pope Francis. Unsurprisingly, many conservative Catholics in the U.S. feel left out by the Pope. Yes, Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of over one billion Catholics across the globe has the audacity to refuse to kowtow to the monomaniacal obsessions of the American Catholic Right. These obsessions consist of only ever discussing issues of bioethics or sexuality and rarely, if ever, mentioning issues such as economic injustice, poverty, war, and a host of other issues that don’t fit well into the peculiar universe of the American Right.

However, as Ms. Goodstein’s article mentions, Pope Francis has not changed the Church’s positions on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The Holy Father has indeed discussed other Church teachings, but this is not very revolutionary at all, as these teachings have been touched upon by his predecessors. But for many in the American Church, discussing anything other than bioethics or sex means that you are “downplaying” or “minimizing” these issues. This was the reaction among many conservative Catholics when the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin promulgated his “Seamless Garment” approach to the consistent ethic of life. Somehow, by connecting the issue of abortion to other problems such as capital punishment and war, Cardinal Bernardin minimized the abortion issue.

For the life of me, I don’t understand this argument. I cannot see how opposing unnecessary wars, the unnecessary execution of prisoners, and other anti-life activities somehow damages the anti-abortion cause. If anything, it illuminates the reasons why Catholics feel so strongly about abortion. I can’t help but imagine that if the pro-life movement took a broader and more constructive approach to life issues as opposed to a single-issue approach, more people would be persuaded by its logic.

On the other hand, the obsession with sex and bioethics is useful for the American political Right because it prevents Catholics from critiquing the economic and foreign policy positions of the Republican Party, which tend to be out of step with the teachings of the Church. Of course, for all of their trouble, conservative Catholics have won no significant victories on the issues that matter most to them while they are saddled with economic and foreign policy agendas that are positively harmful to their own wellbeing. Instead of feeling left out by Pope Francis, perhaps conservative U.S. Catholics should ask their political allies why they are constantly taken for granted and treated like dupes by a political movement that supposedly represents their interests.”  (http://economicsisfordonkeys.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-right-feels-left-out.html)

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