Catholic cultural influence: shifting from bishops to laity

Catholic cultural influence: shifting from bishops to laity

In the Weekly Standard, Joseph Bottum picks up Pat Buchanan’s recent riff on the US bishops and expands on it to say that while certain aspects of Catholic culture are on the ascendancy in the US, mainly to do with the power of its ideas, it is because of Catholic laypeople and not the bishops.

“Evangelicals supply the political energy, Catholics the intellectual heft,” the New Republic claimed this month as it attempted to explain the Catholic ascendancy on the Supreme Court. That explanation is, as Christianity Today replied, mostly just a condescending update of the Washington Post’s old insistence that evangelicals are “poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” But the New Republic was at least right that the rhetorical resources of Catholicism—its ability to take a moral impulse born from religion and channel it into a more general public vocabulary and philosophical analysis—have come to dominate conservative discussions of everything from natural-law accounts of abortion to just-war theory.

It is men like Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas who do the judicial heavy-lifting; similar Catholic brights lights in academia include Robert George of Princeton and Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard.

An exciting and powerful rhetoric

Technorati Tags: , ,