Just posted to our site: a memo to the bishops from Vincent Miller of the University of Dayton:
As the bishops meet in Baltimore this week, the political climate and economic crisis demand they consider the effectiveness of their teaching the full range of Catholic social doctrine.
Every Catholic and every American citizen knows the church’s teaching on abortion and marriage. The same cannot be said for the rest of Catholic social teaching. This has consequences for both American public life and for the church.
Few Americans citizens or politicians, including Catholics, are aware of the church’s teaching that government is necessary to serve the common good; the importance of solidarity with all of the vulnerable, not just the ones we consider innocent or worthy; and, most importantly at this hour, the fact that subsidiarity cuts both ways, limiting government intervention and demanding it when necessary.
These Catholic teachings are under fire: Glen Beck warns millions of faithful listeners to run from any church that preaches social justice. Anti-immigrant extremists like Sherriff Joseph Arpaio are folk heroes (a textbook case of the Catholic definition of causing “scandal”). Tea Party denunciations of socialism and tyranny form public opinion on the legitimacy and scope of government. A new Republican majority in the house, led by a Catholic Speaker, plans to respond to the economic crisis by extending tax cuts for the rich and defunding health care reform—which means those portions that subsidize insurance for the working poor. These profound rejections of Catholic teaching and corrosion of the common good demand an effective episcopal response, yet too often, no response at all is given.