Wednesday, May 31, 2017

National Catholic Reporter: "Describing the Trump Administration as "Pro-Life" Drains the Expression of Any Meaning" (But Wait: NCR Is Saying This?)

Describing the Trump administration as "pro-life" drains the expression of any meaning.
This is a very fine line in the National Catholic Reporter editorial about the baleful influence of the Knights of Columbus' money in American Catholicism that I shared earlier today.

But I find myself challenged to take seriously this observation when it's NCR that is offering it, when NCR has done a hell of a lot to promote the very equation of Catholic values with the "pro-life" agenda, narrowly conceived and obsessively pursued, that this editorial is lamenting. Some of NCR's leading columnists have beaten the Catholicism = "pro-life" politics drum for years now, using that equation repeatedly to draw invidious lines between "real" Catholics (i.e., ones that agree with the bishops' "pro-life" crusade) and everyone else. 

Those same NCR columnists have never sought — nor has NCR itself — to draw into the Catholic conversation the voices of the many Catholics who reject the linking of Catholic identity to "pro-life" politics narrowly conceived and obsessively pursued. In fact, they've been permitted to rule out of the Catholic conversation the majority of U.S. Catholics who do not accept the magisterial position on abortion any more than they accept the magisterial position on contraception or artificial contraception.

The election of Donald Trump shows the bitter fruits of this narrowness, of the tyrannical approach to the issue of abortion, of seeking to impose moral values in coercive, authoritarian ways in pluralistic democracies. The election of Donald Trump demonstrates to anyone willing to open his or her eyes to see clearly that the narrow, tribalistic conversations American Catholics have carried on for years now, whether on the right or the left, have served both the church and the nation exceptionally badly. They have stunted the moral imagination of Catholics and have made much that American Catholics (especially white ones) want to say about issues of public morality totally beside the point.

If we expect to be listened to as moral teachers, we have to learn to listen ourselves.

(The pro-life definition in the header is what pops up if you ask Google what the term "pro-life" means. I wonder where Google has gotten the idea that being "pro-life" is exclusively about opposing abortion and euthanasia.)

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