If one was to ask someone from the political left what is the most important issue facing our world, they would most likely cite the deterioration of the environment and climate change. If you ask someone on the political right, they would probably say the attack on the dignity of the human person most evident in the vice of abortion.
This method of viewing what needs to be done in the world creates an undue burden on the Truth. For it cuts it in half and forces one to choose where to place their efforts at change. Why can’t both the needs of the environment and the collapse of respect for the human person at every stage of development go hand in hand as prime considerations? Why is the Truth used by both sides to create division instead of unity before a common enemy?
This is the world of politics. It is based on a combat of ideas that often is not really contradictory but collaborative. This is the genius of Catholicism. It makes room for the ‘both and’. Because above the debate of ideas and the often acrimonious antipathy of our political parties, there could be a consensus that things do cohere and that wisdom is the result. There is nothing contradictory between the left’s concern for the future of the planet and the right’s concern for the protection of pre-born life. Where there is a tension is between the ultimate agency of the mother and the future of the child. But in a faith context this can be resolved, especially when we try to find new ways to welcome human life in the world. But to do that we have to get away from political slogans and admit what science tells us about the genesis of human life.
But this is not in the interest, so to speak, of the political parties where slogan and innuendo are substituted for the quest for truth. A Catholic who honestly seeks the truth and is convinced that Catholic Teaching provides the groundwork for the united way forward will be frustrated by one’s lack of welcome by both parties. To be a prolife environmentalist is not a contradiction. It is a pathway to unity and to finding ways that we can begin on common ground to solve the problems that beset us.
In fact, it is a contradiction to be so concerned about every element of the environment and be unfeeling to the violence visited on the pre-born child in the womb. Catholic social teaching is of one piece with its sexual teaching. The dignity of the human person means the respect for the process of engendering life as well as concerns of refugees, child care, the rights of women, climate change, the rights of the worker, etc. It is all one. This is why a Catholic cannot feel comfortable with the platforms of either political party. On the left there are some issues that connect but others that alienate. The same is true for the party of the right.
Someone has gone so far as to propose the establishment of a new political party similar to what happened in Europe after World War II when Christian values were embedded in a political agenda that answered the needs of both unreligious and religious Europeans. Perhaps we too may need a new politics that mirrors all the concerns that make up the dignity of the human person from womb to tomb.
We must be convinced that there is such a thing as objective Truth. This means one cannot say about a truth: this may be true for you but not for me. A zebra is a zebra no matter who is looking at it and no matter what ideas of reality they have. Unfortunately, to keep the peace, we have given into the vice of relativity where the truth need not conform to everyone’s perceptions. I can will something to be something else. St. Thomas would have called that statement ‘absurd’. Unfortunately, we have built our modern world view on such a shaky rational equation.
Never have we needed the objective intervention of Church Teaching more to articulate Truth that may make everyone a little uncomfortable but may actually lead us forward in our pathway to happiness here on earth and preparation for the world to come.
We must be faithful both to our perceptions but also to the guidance of Biblical Revelation as it is articulated in the Magisterium of the Church’s teaching. We must also never forget that the Evil One will try to confuse us and throw us by suggesting to us to walk off the pathway of Truth and assert the centrality of our subjective desires that he can subvert and deform through temptation and error.
We must be open to the whole Truth and not partial truths that can severely derail us from our quest for eternal joy in Christ.
That means a Christian will never quite fit in politically with any party but must be faithful to the Truth that God reveals which transcends any one platform.