Friday, March 15, 2013

Social Justice Catholic vs. Pro-life Catholic: A False Dichotomy

I even fell into it myself. We were having a discussion yesterday in my Bible study about everything that was wrong in the Church and the new Pope. I said, "Church leaders in the southern hemisphere tend to be more involved in social justice issues tempered with being very socially conservative."

I almost smacked myself.

It drives me nuts when other people do it. I hate it when comparisons are made between the social justice Catholics and the orthodox Catholics. As if you have to be one or the other, you can't be both. But isn't real Catholicism both? If one really understood the Church and tried to live out her teachings, you'd have to be both.

Let me illustrate using our new Pope:

And the Pope on the bus goes...
When Pope Francis was the Archbishop in Buenos Aires, he refused to live in the Bishop's palace. He lived in an ordinary apartment with an elderly Bishop that he helped take care of. I imagine this like the 65.7 million caregivers in the US looking out for older family members. He used public transportation instead of a chauffeur. He took the Jesuit vow of poverty seriously.

Pope Francis has said that abortion of a child conceived in the rape of a mentally handicapped woman is wrong. Rape? Mentally handicapped? While what he said is absolutely correct, the hypothetical situation he used is one of the worst I could think of. This simply illustrates his orthodoxy in pro-life matters.

The same lips that made that statement also chastised priests for refusing to baptize children born out-of-wedlock. He said essentially that these women sacrificed bringing these unplanned children into the world; They should not have to go door to door to find a priest willing to baptize the child.

One of the biggest pro-choice complaints is that pro-lifers seem to be willing to go to the ends of the earth to protect the child in the womb but won't lift a finger to help a child already born. This Pope, chosen from the ends of the world, clearly cares for children born and unborn and has an understanding of what women with unplanned pregnancies go through.

So, here we go: A Pope that talks the talk and walks the walk, going above and beyond the call of duty to truly live out the Gospel in his everyday life. The more I learn about him, the more I think he is exactly what the Church today needs. A perfect synthesis of the "social justice Catholic" and the "pro-life Catholic." The Cardinals seem to have done a wonderful job. And, note to reader: smack me if you ever hear me pit these two against each other ever again.

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