There are three options open to us, not just two””left, right and Catholic. The options offered by both the left and the right are based on ideology. The Catholic option is based on realism””the careful and patient discovery of facts and the search for policies based on both facts and on the Catholic imperative to preserve and enhance the common good. Catholic and centrist are not the same; we do not achieve the common good by splitting the difference between competing ideologies. We achieve the common good by finding and advocating solutions to the real problems of real people living in the real world.
Despite a widely expressed desire to end the partisan gridlock that now paralyzes American politics, it stubbornly continues and grows. And despite the U.S. Catholic bishops’ regular pleas for a new politics based on human rights and the common good, Catholics have been unable to offer a national alternative to the political warfare now taking place. Instead, we have contributed to it. Both those bishops who have openly identified with the political right and those who disagree but have remained silent have equally contributed to a widely held public perception that the Catholic hierarchy has joined the right-versus-left battle on the conservative side.
Rather than becoming a moderating force in the civil war of ideas now taking place, we have allowed the secular political establishment to set the agenda for political debate within the Catholic Church itself….