Real Catholic social teaching is the answer: What was the question?
You’ve probably already heard about Culture-of-Death-billionaire- globalist George Soros trying to hijack Pope Francis’ 2015 U.S. visit as a campaign tour for left-wing Democrats. We next learned of pro-abortion “Catholic” front groups that Clinton campaign chair John Podesta hoped to use to overthrow the “Middle Ages dictatorship” of the Church.
My own pro-life apostolate was targeted in 2016, when Democrats for Life operatives held an event at Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention using my pro-life non-profit’s name, “Whole Life,” to advertise a “seamless garment” agenda that equated the pro-life movement with the fight against “climate change.” Other examples abound.
How should we react to all this? Some are tempted to write off “Catholic social teaching,” to cede it to the statists who use it highly selectively to support a growing secular government that actually targets Catholic institutions for destruction — from the Little Sisters of the Poor to pro-life pregnancy centers, from Catholic adoption agencies to faithful Catholic schools.
But we cannot make that mistake. Catholic social teaching is a rich, intellectually vibrant and philosophically rigorous tradition of reflection on politics, economics and society, which includes the writing of scholars, saints, and popes who were both. It’s a treasure chest of insights we draw on as laymen to fulfill our vocation: Applying Christian ethics in new and unforeseen contexts, using the principles of Catholic social teaching drawn from the gospel of Jesus Christ as our lighthouse in the storm.
In a year that pits Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, we know that the world needs more attention to principles, not less. Our rudderless, secularized society is prone to hysteria, from the worldwide grief over the shooting of a gorilla who menaced a child to the claim that those unsettled by the influx of angry Muslims into the West are suffering from a mental illness called “Islamophobia.” Without a solid grounding in a truthful theory of man that defends his dignity and freedom, we have no good answer to the next media-driven moral panic.
Catholic social teaching offers precisely that grounding in clear and luminous principles that can be applied in any situation — from the savannahs of the developing world to the teeming cities of Europe, the U.S., and Asia. Honed by trial and error over centuries by the finest minds in the world — from Augustine to Dante to Thomas Aquinas and Leo XIII — Catholic social teaching sees man in three dimensions, realistically notes his limits thanks to the Fall, and always keeps in mind his eternal destination is heaven. It was Catholic social teaching that rejected Social Darwinism and socialism in the 19th century — and racism, Communism and ultranationalism in the 20th. It was Pope St. John Paul II who diagnosed before anyone else the rising “Culture of Death” that has yielded tens of millions of abortions; hundreds of thousands of tiny, embryonic humans frozen in a technological limbo at fertility labs; the marriage bond attacked by lax divorce laws and new, false forms of marriage; and finally the rise of “gender ideology” that denies the reality that God made man and woman, and saw that it was good.
No other intellectual tradition has such a sterling record of seeing through the ideologies of elites to the ugly consequences for society’s weakest members. Only Catholic social teaching keeps a firm eye on man’s dignity, which keeps Catholics closely attuned to how popular trends and fashionable innovations will impact the least of our brothers. That’s why I am proud to say that my life’s calling is to spread appreciation for genuine Catholic social teaching, whose core principles I tried to lay out in The Race to Save Our Century:
1.) The dignity of every person as an image of God.
2) The existence of a transcendent moral order by which we judge each nation’s laws.
3) The need for the state to protect the free institutions of civil society, from the family to the Church, and all the “little platoons” in between.
4) The need for solidarity, for concern for every person as our moral equal.
5) The centrality of a free, humane economy that develops human potential and lifts up the poor.
It’s my prayer that such luminous truths can inform our future.
JASON SCOTT JONES is an At-Large Legatus member and co-author of The Race to Save Our Century (2014).