Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daniel C. Maguire Is Not Helping In Discussion of Catholic Social Teaching

I was thinking about commenting on a post at Religious Dispatches when I ran across this screed.
When Religion is a Refuge for Scoundrels: ‘Ryan Budget’ Edition. by Daniel C. Maguire

Six members of the Supreme Court are Catholics. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell are Catholics. Also in this new Catholic dynasty is the alleged wunderkind of Republican economics: perky Paul Ryan. Ryan wears his form of Catholicism with a jaunty pride, declaring that “Catholic social doctrine is indispensable for officeholders.”

But, ah, there’s the rub. Neither Ryan nor the right-wing bishops who coddle him, nor five of the Catholic Supreme Court justices, have done their homework. They are handling theopolitical dynamite which, if applied, would explode their right-wing projects into a fine and smelly dust.

“Catholic social teaching” is a too often overlooked treasure of social justice theory and it’s been growing even more impressive over the past two centuries. This teaching is not fringe; it is papal to the core. It is “a pity beyond all telling” that Catholic bishops, obsessed with condoms and such, could not raise their passions and attention above the pelvic zone and shout from the rooftops a message that is crucially and brilliantly relevant to a global political economy on the brink of total collapse.....

That is just the first three paragraphs. Though I was impressed that Maguire went well into his third paragraph before mentioning "pelvic" which I guess is progress.

I understand that Maguire has to please the choir he is preaching too at Religious Dispatches. However he is a professor of ethics at Marquette University, and past president of The Society of Christian Ethics. His flame flowing and bringing in all his other issues makes it hard like me to even examine the issues and argument he brings up.

If Catholic Social Justice Teaching is going to get beyond a few soundbites and Catholic publications then  Maguire might want to check the tone and stay more focused. He is not helping matters.

Over here in right wing land I noted two places where an intelligent discussion of Congressman's Ryan's point was being discussed. See The Paul Ryan Budget & Discussion of Catholic Social Justice ( Subsidiarity & Federalism )

I will again post that comment  I saw

To Rob's points, while I think the criticisms of his overly-simplistic appeals to CST are accurate, it seems to me part of the problem here is that Catholic Democrats and their allies have long equated left-leaning Democratic policy proposals with CST, leaving little-to-no room for any substantive policy discussions over, say, whether Medicare should be reformed with a premium support plan (a proposal first made by the Breaux Commission to a Democratic president). I think the recent back-and-forth bewteen Rick Garnett and David Gibson illustrated this. The Commonwealers tend to analyze Ryan's proposals with all the nuance of the DNC, and simply conclude "Unacceptable under CST." It seems to me, if we really believe that CST defies easy categorization, a required first step is to acknowledge that the answer set to the problems is varied, and to take at face value and in good faith the statements from Ryan and others and try to analyze the issue rather than starting from a conclusions (Ryan's plan is "social darwinism") and then working back to the justification (which is what I think a lot of Catholic liberals do with Ryan without realizing just how much bipartisan consensus is actually in his plan, among other things) .

To that let me add one other comment I saw at MOJ

Catholic social teaching would presumably favor the continued solvency of the federal government and its resultant ability to meet its obligations, including those to the poor. While many of Ryan's proposals will stand or fall according to the ways in which they are fleshed out, his overall approach to entitlement programs does have the virtue of moving us off of the train to fiscal disaster that we are presently on. In that most important regard, it is far more compatible with catholic social teaching than the policies of the present administration.

Now I am not taking a position on how much people should be taxed. I really don't  know how this will look till we get this out of Ways and Means. But I do recognize that the poor could REALLY be hurt if we do nothing.

It might be impossible to do in whats an never ending election cycle , but if we are going to have a real discussion about Catholic Social Teaching we need to calm down the rhetoric .


1 comment:

thepalmhq said...

Maguire's criticism of Ryan has the added problem of being brazenly hypocritical. While Dan "Catholics for a Free Choice" Maguire publicly chides Ryan for not agreeing with a non-binding, non-magisterial letter from a committee of the USCCB, Maguire himself openly dissents from perennial Catholic dogmas, promulgated by the Church's highest authority, the Popes and Ecumenical Councils. Dan Maguire obviously isn't stupid, so it's hard to chalk this up to anything other than over-the-top intellectual dishonesty.