The Catholic Church, Post-John Paul II

Contextual Conservatism
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
April 2 2005 6:33 PM

The Catholic Church, Post-John Paul II

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Mike,

I basically agree with your evaluation. JPII has been a leader who belonged to no Catholic "party" or "camp." It is a mistake to label him a "conservative," although that term certainly describes his relationship to many of the leaders in the Catholic establishment who have not been supportive of the magisterium. His conservatism, if anyone wants to call it that, is contextual. His commitment to orthodoxy is responsible for the various emphases of his pontificate that appeal to both the left and the right (again, to use labels that don't quite work). To the left he was the pope of human rights and the opponent of the death penalty; to the right he was the defender of doctrine and the pope who restored the proper priorities within Catholic social teaching. Uniting both of these flanks in his popularity is the underlying appeal for a "culture of life." It's to President Bush's credit that he has made this theme such a prominent part of his public policy, and I don't think the pope minded that a Texas Methodist used it so often. I know that in all Bush's private meetings with the Holy Father JPII commended him for his support for a culture of life.

There was certainly nothing wrong, in my opinion, with Republicans trying to make the case that their presidential candidate was closer to the Catholic position on the life issues than the alternative. And, to be fair, the Democrats should and did try to make their case to the Catholic voters as well. Given that JPII has succeeded in underlining the priority of life issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryo research, it will be important to watch if the next pontiff continues that emphasis. These points of emphasis, amid the so-called seamless garment, are emerging as perhaps the central point of debate over the Catholic vote.

But at this moment, I am sure we are all struck with the sanctity of the man who is passing away before our eyes.

Deal W. Hudson

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.