Pope Francis is a social conservative who believes in social justice, and thinks the latter as important as the former, in fact, thinks they are linked together.Amazing how many Catholics are surprised at this. They have been merely pro-birth so long, that they have come to think that THAT was being pro-life. Pro-life for Francis means not only being against abortion, but also (like his immediate predecessors) being against war, poverty, and the death penalty. Some folks might say, “Everyone is against war and poverty.” True. But that does not mean for those folks, as it does for Francis, that they are obligated to do something to oppose war and fight poverty, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and comfort the afflicted, to encourage equality and a more compassionate and just society, albeit within traditional social norms.Pope Francis is not interested in your rights, he is interested in your duties to God and to your brother. And he makes it very clear that to him and his God, your obligations and duties toward you neighbor do not begin and end with leaving him alone. He exemplifies social conservatism at its best, and stands in direct opposition to libertarian conservatism at its worst. (I hate to call it that: the most ardent libertarian I know calls conservatism evil, and thinks “libertarian Republican” a contradiction in terms.)Social and libertarian conservatism are in fact quite opposed to one another when each is considered in its pure form, but the GOP must stand with one foot it each. The combination is in practice, I sometimes think, worse than either one by itself, for it tends to put forward the worst of each: a regressive view of society AND a heartless unconcern for the uncompetitive or unfortunate. It is the root of most of the hypocrisy we see in conservative policy. Mixed together in a better way, you might end up with a pragmatic and compassionate conservatism such as George Bush feebly and ineffectually strove for. Instead we see the libertarians drive compassion out of the GOP, while the social conservatives block actual liberation.If you think, dear conservative reader, this shoe does not fit you, then you have my permission not to wear it. I can only base these general observations on the conservatives whom I actually know, and what I hear them say.
Apr 12, 2017