The recent elections in USA saw the rapid rise of a new party in USA. Although it was linked with the Republican Party, many Republican leaders openly disagreed with Tea Partiers. However, they did not do so for moral reasons. I would like to address some of these.
Much of the strength of the Tea Party comes from a profound disaffection with “Government”. It is too big, takes too much from the average person in taxes and the party will do all it can to undo the recent health care legislation, undo Social Security and education reform. It all makes sense, when many are suffering from unemployment and receive little service from the government. Recently, the Republicans denied unemployment benefits to millions of people, and yet the suffering poor are not amongst the ranks of the Tea Party!
There also seems to be a claim that Tea Partiers are Christian. Whatever the truth of that, their behavior and plans are immoral in terms of Christian – especially Catholic morality.
First, government is necessary. Democracy is the preferred form of government, and it is the reponsibility of government to provide for the good of all its citizens and for good relations with the world community. I cannot remember that ever being challenged before. We can go back over the social encyclicals of the Popes from Leo XIII at the beginning of the 20th century, and find there a wealth of information about the responsibility of government. So issues like the good ordering of the community, provision of basic services, freedom of people, international relations, immigration issues, imposition of just taxes, aid to foreign countries are all the responsibility of good government. At election time the community usually judges the government of the day according to these principles.
Most importantly for the Church, government is charged with providing services for the poor and deprived in its community. In Australia at least, people want to enlarge the government’s responsibility for these issues. Child endowment, educational improvement, maternity and even paternity leave were all issues in the latest Australian election. No one should be suffering from poverty.
However, in USA there was little of that – those in government were endeavoring to show that they were cutting expenses and therefore beneifits in order to be reelected. And many were claiming this was being Christian! Nothing could be further from the truth.But while the Catholic Church should have been proclaiming the Gospel truth and Church tradition, we were solely focused on one issue – abortion! Obviously the right to life is a basic issue and a profound moral disgrace in a wealthy community. But that life should be from conception to natural death, and so having millions of children without health insurance should also have been decried as a social sin. And to see a large proportion of the country receiving less help than the rest of the community should also have been an issue of morality, but we seemed to have neglected our responsibility to the black people, and even the Hispanics, traditionally Catholic people.
We need a stronger Church leadership, one that promotes the teaching of our current Pope even. When lobbyists control the government and even the Church, democracy suffers, it is not government by the people and for the people, but by the powerful and for a select group. The Tea Party is not Christian!