Politicians, Catholicism, and the False Equivalence

By:  Selwyn Duke
10/16/2012
       
Politicians, Catholicism, and the False Equivalence

You’ve got to hand it to that Joe Biden. He certainly has chutzpah. After all, what do you call it when a man who was banned from receiving Communion diocese-wide by a bishop chastises an apparently more faithful Catholic for a lack of doctrinal purity? I’m of course referring to the vice-presidential debate and Biden’s comment that Paul Ryan had an “issue” with “Catholic social doctrine.”

You’ve got to hand it to that Joe Biden. He certainly has chutzpah. After all, what do you call it when a man who was banned from receiving Communion diocese-wide by a bishop chastises an apparently more faithful Catholic for a lack of doctrinal purity? I’m of course referring to the vice-presidential debate and Biden’s comment that Paul Ryan had an “issue” with “Catholic social doctrine.”

Biden’s approach is nothing new; it’s a copout frequently used by liberal — or, as they used to say, heretical — Catholics. It goes like this: self-conscious that they’re being criticized for violating definitive Church teaching and accused of being in a state of grave sin, they hang their hats on the idea that they make up for it by going heavy on “social teaching.” Furthermore, they lean on the notion that no one should point fingers at them because, by their lights, conservatives fall terribly short of the glory of that social teaching. It’s the theological version of “Oh, yeah?! But look at what Bush did!”

The most obvious problem with this is that it’s like saying your theft is okay because Tom commits adultery, a callow appeal of the kind mature people leave in childhood. Obviously, we’re responsible for our own walk with righteousness, our own sins, not others’. Why, do you think the attempt to justify bad behavior by citing other (supposedly) bad behavior will pass muster when we meet our maker any more than it would before a judge? Imagine saying, “Yes, Your Honor, I broke my wife’s jaw. But, look, I’m tellin’ ya’, there’s this guy down the street who beats up his wife and his girlfriend.” In the same way that courts judge us based on the law and not other criminals’ behavior, a person of faith understands that he is to measure himself with the Perfect Law from above, not the imperfect and flawed next to us.

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Selwyn Duke (photo)

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