Could I have picked a more inflammatory title, maybe, however, it would be tough. Am I suggesting that every Catholic is required to be a conservative in order to exercise legitimate political participation? I will let you decide which political parties in the current spectrum are reconcilable with Church teaching regarding politics.
It is worth noting that I am writing as a Canadian, but much of what applies to the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party of Canada does also apply to international left-wing parties.
Participation in politics is laid out as a duty in the Catechism for all Catholics as it is a means with which we can work towards the common good. Authority is a respected reality by the Church, and legitimate governments are encouraged to exercise moral authority in society. The Church does not have an official political party, and even suggests that variety is beneficial in voting as a way to keep other parties honest. But, the Church does lay out some very important guidelines that pertain to the legitimacy of political authority.
The current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has said on record that his Members of Parliament are required to vote pro-choice if the issue comes up in session, even against their conscience if necessary. He has also lauded assisted suicide as a step in a direction of progress, and has put his name on a whole host of other issues contrary to the Natural Law. The Bishop of Ottawa even came out and denounced his views and policy decisions on abortion, but the Prime Minister ignored the Bishop. This alone means that the Liberal Party, in the eyes of the Church, according to her teachings, is illegitimate and has experienced a breakdown of authority.
Paragraph 1903 of the Catechism states: “Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”
Authority is only legitimate when it seeks the common good. 300,000+ Canadians died last year due to abortion. Seems like the common good could use some work. Also, licit means are required to enact policies. What does this mean? There is a reason the word licit is used rather than legal. It is legal for Trudeau to state that his party must vote and think a certain way, but it is not licit, as it is not moral and infringes upon the freedom of a religious or non-religious person’s conscience. If rulers enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. The liberals are not only illicit and illegitimate at a federal level, but here in Ontario they are pushing to void doctors of their conscience rights in their freedom to not participate in assisted suicide, either by procurement or referral. According to the Church, these doctors are not bound to these laws, which are federal, and they are not required to implement them on a provincial level either, yet both Liberal governments are furthering their illegitimacy in the eyes of the Church by enacting these measures of intimidation. In addition, their authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse. The Liberals are not only illegitimate according to the teachings of the Church, but they are the procurators of a shameful abuse. Much could be said in the same vein about the New Democrats in Alberta, who have told the Catholic schools that they need to espouse anti-Catholic sexual education or else they will else they will lose their funding, and I am sure you can fill in the blanks.
So far, we have only used one paragraph of the Catechism. Let’s look at a few others and see whether the Liberals are up to snuff.
1907 First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as “the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.”
1908 Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.
1909 Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.
The first aspect of the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. This means, that each person must be treated as a person, in order for the common good to even get off the ground. Unborn people are persons, even if they aren’t afforded those rights. This means that a pro-choice government or politician isn’t able to even implement a holistic approach to the betterment of the common good as they don’t apply personhood to all people. And, if they do ascribe personhood to the unborn, that means they are okay with terminating some people for political reasons, which also nullifies their understanding of the common good and their legitimacy. Furthermore, in the same paragraph, we see that the first indispensable right pertains simultaneously to action according to conscience and religious freedom. Once again, the Liberal party of Canada and of Ontario have stifled these rights of Catholics. To prop them up by way of democracy is to prop up their abuse of fundamental human rights.
A lot of the time people will say something like “Okay, I know abortion is wrong and the Liberals support it, but they are better with the poor, and the other parties don’t help the poor.” This isn’t true in the slightest, but let’s assume it is. Let’s just assume for a second that the Liberals were the most charitable party in history, and that the Conservatives were pro-life, but cut social welfare programs. Even if this were the case, it clearly states that the needs for a truly human life are to be accessible, not provided. These are not the same thing. Social programs that help the poor are laudable, but they are not the same as charity. Nothing is stopping you from personally helping the poor, whereas the government is directly stopping you from helping the unborn. In reality, conservatives, especially conservative Christians are the most generous people on earth when it comes to charity donation and participation. So, even if the conservative policies were as bad as liberals think they could be, the actual conservative voters would still help the poor and marginalized.
The next paragraph clearly states that peace is required for the common good. It is interesting, liberals are all over the idea of helping refugees, which is great, but what about the 300,000 unborn Canadian refugees who died last year because they couldn’t escape a hostile womb? We don’t have to decide between unborn refugees and born refugees, but let us just say we did. I think someone living in a camp would understand that they may have to wait their a little longer in order that the Canadian government could save hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people on earth.
What do we do in regards to politics?
It is all well and good for us to chastise a political group or movement for its illegitimacy, but what do we do about it? I understand that many people are apprehensive to engage in Conservative politics. Conservative is a bad word. It means; racist, Nazi, homophobe, bigot, etc… But, in reality conservatism is quite contextual depending on a society and its culture. Classic Conservatism and Classic Liberalism are actually quite close in their historical approach to government, it is instead their outlooks that are different. The best way I can describe the differences are in the manner I once heard the famous Thomas Sowell describe the two philosophies. In so many words, he said that conservatives tend to look at human nature as corruptible and flawed, whereas liberals tend to look at people as inherently good. This is why conservatives are so apprehensive to change, because if anything is going smoothly, it is more likely an anomaly than the norm, and therefore we should conserve rather than change unnecessarily. Liberals, who tend to view the world as full of people who are more fundamentally good, are more likely to promote changes as they more often see “progress” as a good thing as long as it is what the inherently good people want. There are benefits to both of these views, and in fact, Classic Liberalism did not advocate for any of the immoral nonsense of the modern Liberal, but essentially lobbied for more freedom within the conserved social norms and ethics. This is why, many people who for years would have called themselves “liberal” are now aligning with conservative ideals, because it is the conservative ideals that are giving them a bastion of personal freedom and liberality.
I do in a sense feel for the “old-school” liberal who pines for the days when he could be a Liberal Party supporter without losing his soul. It isn’t his fault the party was high jacked by Marxists and Post-Modernists.
If we look back to the Catechism, it states the following about our participation in politics:
1913 “Participation” is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person.
1914 Participation is achieved first of all by taking charge of the areas for which one assumes personal responsibility: by the care taken for the education of his family, by conscientious work, and so forth, man participates in the good of others and of society.
1915 As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life. The manner of this participation may vary from one country or culture to another. “One must pay tribute to those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of the citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom.”
1916 As with any ethical obligation, the participation of all in realizing the common good calls for a continually renewed conversion of the social partners. Fraud and other subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of societal obligation, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice. Much care should be taken to promote institutions that improve the conditions of human life.
We are all required to participate to the extent we are able, which for a Canadian would mean voting with a properly formed Catholic conscience, which by definition cannot include the Liberal Party. We are called to personal responsibility by taking care of our children’s education, and by working conscientiously. If you had to take a guess, which political party do you think would be a proponent of parent’s deciding what their kids learn, and by making sure they take their financial success into their own hands by working hard and being fiscally responsible? In fact, conscientiousness is actually one of the Big 5 personality traits tested by psychologists to ascertain political allegiance. Conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of a conservative voter. The Church also calls for genuine freedom, this includes freedom of conscience, of religion, of expression. Which party do you think is a true proponent of genuine freedom? The one that tells doctors they have to help people commit suicide even if it is mortally sinful? The one that sets up Human Rights tribunals where people are fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because they aren’t on board with infinite gender pronouns or giving hormones to children? Or, maybe it is the party that won’t allow Christian parents to take their kids out of sex-ed classes that go against their religion? (In fairness, that last one pertains to the Toronto District School Board, but I challenge you to find a more tightly linked entity than a public school board to the Liberal Party)
Finally, paragraph 1916 compares political participation to an ethical obligation, and then goes on to declare that much care should be taken to improve the conditions of human life. How on earth can we sincerely suggest that it is ethical to vote for a political party that is pro-abortion, anti-religion, pro-suicide, pro-drug, and that paid a terrorist 10 million dollars?
In conclusion, I understand that historically people have thought that the Liberal Party was compatible with Catholicism, and I will admit that it was at a time. There was a time when the two major parties were actually Liberal and Conservative, whereas today they are Leftist and Conservative, there is a big difference. If you have a problem with conservatism because it is so “right-wing” with its insistence on pro-life and its love affair with traditional marriage, traditional Christian values, and the poor having to work for money rather than it be handed to them (2 Thessalonians 3:8). Um… why are you Catholic?