Joseph Bottum weighs in on a topic that had sort of nagged at me in the back of my mind — why did the Catholic Democrats make that statement out of the blue? It seems kind of random. But Bottum’s take resonates with what I know of politicians:
But still the question remains: Why the statement now? For someone like Rosa L. DeLauro–or for such signers as Bart Stupak, Patrick J. Kennedy, Cynthia McKinney, and Nancy Pelosi–what’s the political gain of claiming Catholicism at a time when the American Church is still reeling from the scandals that broke in 2002?
A general rule is that you should trust people to know their own best interests–or, at least, trust professionals to understand their own professions better than outsiders do. No one gets elected to Congress by being a complete idiot–about politics, at least. There is, I think, a glamour that attaches to Catholicism right now. A lot of mud, too, of course. But the intellectual force of Catholic analysis and vocabulary seems to have touched an awful lot of America’s contemporary political debate, and the 55 signers of the “Statement of Principles” want in on it all.
In one sense, this is just another entry in the Democrats’ general attempt to reclaim religion. But in its peculiar Catholic iteration, the problem of abortion wrecks the logic of the statement from its very first moment. Until the Democrats find a genuine way to be pro-life, they will not be able to deploy Catholic intellectual resources–or claim the prestige of doing so. [full text]
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