James Carroll Takes a Swing at the Church
Left-wing Catholic dissident James Carroll wrote a scathing attack on the USCCB for the Daily Beast blog, accusing the bishops of a “new know-nothing fundamentalism” and drastic shift to the political right for adhering to basic Catholic principles on abortion, the deliberate destruction of an innocent human life, which is an intrinsic evil. I don’t know what disturbs me more: the article itself, or the outpouring of vicious, no-holds-barred anti-Catholic hatred that follows in the com-boxes.
Carroll whines as if the entire moral platform of the USCCB is literally dictated by officials from the Republican Party, which anyone who is actually familiar with their positions on a number of issues from immigration to health-care reform (which they strongly support, minus abortion funding, to the chagrin of many conservatives) knows is somewhere between hysterical and brain-damaged. Carroll longs for the days when the Catholic Church in America was, at least in his one-sided view, completely subordinated not to the Republican political agenda but the Democratic one. Supposedly that would not be an unwelcome intrusion of the Church into political affairs, but an example of a good little boy who does as he’s told by the powers that be.
Of course Carroll’s nostalgia for the “good old Church” neglects the fact that in the days of FDR, abortion was not the political issue it is today, and no one but communists and anarchists believed that the right to murder one’s own offspring was a necessary condition for social justice. The very notion, in its brutality and hypocrisy, would have horrified as many Catholic leaders and laypeople then as it does today.
We will never hear from Carroll or anyone else like him a word on the hideous double-standard the left holds for religious influence in politics, whether it is accepting the Catholic Church’s influence and support on issues it cares about, or those of dozens of other religious groups that support other causes that are dear to their heart. Nor will we hear a single word about the pledge of “progressive Democrats” who have threatened to scuttle health care from the leftif they are denied federal funding for abortion.
The silence is deafening and, combined with rants such as Carroll’s where the nostalgia for the old days slips out, makes one thing clear: when religious people support leftist causes, they aren’t violating separation of church and state, but acting as good citizens. When leftists threaten a bill such as health care reform because their sacred rites might be threatened, they are being principled. If Carroll and other dissidents had their way, the Church would not be banished from political life, but reduced to a hand-puppet of their party and their agenda. Much could be said about the political right as well, but then, I’ve never heard anyone in the GOP complain that the Church’s support for living wages meant that she should be stripped of her tax-exempt status.
This ideological bias is sickening, and I fail to see how an honest human being who, somewhere in his misguided soul, wishes to continue identifying as a Catholic can continue to subject the Church to it. One thing does amuse me, however: typical of all the leftist anti-Catholic rants I have read in recent days since Stupak, Carroll simultaneously bemoans the vast political influence of the Church while, in the same piece, reveling in the supposed decline of the Church’s social and cultural relevance.
In my view, political influence isn’t possible without a corresponding amount of social and cultural relevance. As much as it pains Mr. Carroll and other leftist dissidents, the Church is not in a period of irrevocable decline, even if the pressures of the secular culture manifest themselves in opinion polls from time to time. On the contrary the Stupak amendment, whatever its eventual fate may be, was a victory for the pro-life movement and a victory for the Catholic Church, a testament to its continuing endurance and importance in our culture and political process.
Yes, Mr. Carroll, we have a right to be heard, not as conservatives or liberals but as Catholics, and no, Mr. Carroll, we will not eviscerate our basic beliefs about the sanctity of human life in order to become servile political puppets.