Political Moralism As an Illness in the Church?


In his homily on October 17, 2013, Pope Francis set a new tone for opposition to what is generally referred to in US politics as “the Religious Right”: “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. […] [W]hen a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought […] It is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians.” This statement was a signal of a major shift in Vatican political posturing; arguably the greatest since the Second Vatican Council. While signaling that he is not ready to sign off on allowing abortion or women in the priesthood, Pope Francis has made it clear that “pelvic politics” will no longer be accepted as a higher political priority than “social justice politics” within the Catholic Church. This in turn represents a serious threat to the political fortunes of leading conservative Catholic politicians in the United States, who have built their careers on opposing both violations of their church’s teachings on sex and the socialist redistribution of wealth by the state. Yet it brings to the fore an aspect of Pope John Paul II’s legacy, from the Cold War phase of his papacy, that Benedict XVI had been attempting to harmonize with John Paul’s later, more moralistic emphasis. The power struggle now taking shape here will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Author Information
David Huisjen Jr., University of Helsinki, Finland

Paper Information
Conference: ECERP2014
Stream: Philosophy and Religion

This paper is part of the ECERP2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon