Monday, November 1, 2010

There's room for liberal and conservative in our faith

By Sister Mary Garascia,
Pastoral Coordinator, Holy Name of Jesus, Redlands

When I read the comment cards for the Bishop’s upcoming visit to our parish, some people felt that the Church was too liberal in its politics. Did you know that liberals used to be the good guys? The first liberals were the people of England who got the Magna Carta passed, and our own founding fathers. “Liberal” meant fighting for freedom, freedom from a society where wealthy land owners and hereditary rulers controlled the lives of their people. It was liberals who recognized that we have God-given rights. It was liberals who earned independence for their countries, who got the right to vote for people who did not own land, who got universal education for all children including girls, who ended slavery, who got a 40 hour work week established. If you believe any of these things, you are in the liberal tradition! And yes, our Church is too, when it advocates for liberties or freedoms, especially for those who are on the margins.

But our Church is also conservative on many moral social issues. Conservatives are good guys, too. Conservatives are not “the party of no” but people who fight to preserve foundational values in a society, or in a religion. Conservatives know that the freedoms individuals have must be limited by the needs of an integrated and functioning society. They properly wave “red flags” about possible unintended effects of proposed changes. Most important of all, they know that it is God’s plan for human life that gives order to the world.

Both liberals, who recognize God as the source of all our rights, and conservatives, who recognize God as the foundation of social order, are good guys. As we head to the polls this week, my prayer is that we will be able to elect people who can appreciate the shared religious foundation of conservatism and liberalism. And I pray that Catholics can come to accept that their Church needs to be a partner in political conversations and efforts of society in order to build a better world.

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