Cafeteria Catholicism on the Right

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“No thanks, we’ll pass on that ‘health care is a right’ dish, especially if it’s Obamacare and we can pretend that what’s at stake is federally funded abortions.” The pseudo-puzzlement expressed by the likes of Deal Hudson and Russell Shaw is risible as they disdain that particular teaching of the (dare I say it) magisterium, expressed not only by the USCCB but also by the present pope. If the Catholic right were truly motivated by pro-life concerns alone, there would be some indication of being torn between two imperatives; as in: “We applaud the Democratic effort to provide all Americans with access to health care, which is (as the Church teaches) a human right. And yet we are thus far too troubled by the danger of government funding of abortion to support the existing bills.” But there’s been, so far as I’ve seen, nothing of the sort.

In David Gibson’s roundup, those Catholic moderates (bishops, theologians) pushing back have been reticent about calling out those on the right (bishops, intellectuals) for failing to hew to Catholic principles. Once upon a time, the late Richard John Neuhaus made “fidelity” the touchstone of orthodoxy, but for his living paleo- and neo-con pals, that seems to be only a one-way street for the left to travel. When, on issues like the war in Iraq, the economy, or the death penalty, Church doctrine is ideologically distasteful, then those on the right do not hesitate to follow their own consciences. Call it the Protestant Principle.