Bishop Robert Barron: division between “pro-life” Catholics and “social justice” Catholics is bitter fruits of the post-conciliar period

Bishop Robert Barron will give one of the keynote addresses at the Cornerstone Catholic Conference in Tacoma Oct. 20–21. His address will be titled “The Eucharist: Spiritual Food to Sustain Our Witness.”
The Cornerstone conference arose in response to this division between “pro-life” Catholics and “social justice” Catholics — this lack of communication and cooperation, sometimes distrust and even disdain.

Bishop Barron has given an interview about the forthcoming address in which he laments this false dichotomy.
To me, it’s one of the bitter fruits, in some ways, of the post-conciliar period — mind you, not the council; Vatican II is very clear on this. But in the post-conciliar period there was a tendency within Catholicism to fall into these two camps, and I’ve watched that all my life in the church. Call it left-right, liberal-conservative, or, as we see it in the Catholic context often, this: Are you more on the life issues or more on the justice issues? And it’s just a false dichotomy, and it’s not in the great saints, it’s not in the teaching of the church, it’s not in Vatican II, but it’s a divide that happened in the wake of the council. And I think it’s really regrettable.
Bishop Barron emphasises the importance of Catholic Social Teaching to the life and mission of the Church, linking it to the work of evangelisation:
it’s seeing the church in action that often evangelizes people. And then go back to the early centuries — “how these Christians love one another” — that’s what grabbed the attention of a lot of pagans. And then I think up and down the centuries, it’s people living the Christian life in its radical form that has a huge evangelical power.
Bishop Barron identifies a change in attitude as one of the key challenges we face as a society. He correctly, in my opinion, identifies the relativising of our experience of life as the key issue which has allowed space for morally reprehensible acts like abortion to gain a foothold in our society. I see this as a by-product of the post-Cartesian turning towards self. Bishop Barron sums this up as "my will determines what’s good and right." and defines it as voluntarism. This is the dominance of the will over the mind, or of my desire over truth. What that does is then it brackets the essential dignity of the other. If I’m making up values as I go along, then as people get in the way of that, well, they become expendable. It becomes, as Nietzsche said, the will to power. I think that’s the abiding and underlying problem, is this sort of Nietzscheanism, this voluntarism — that I invent my own values.

You can read the whole interview here.


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