Question #4: There was an article in the Washington Post yesterday that stated that there is a wide division between the more "liberal" Catholics in the West, including the United States, and the more "conservative" Catholics in developing nations in places such as Africa. It mentioned the new Pope would have to decide which crowd to appeal to more. Is this divide real?
Yes, I would say you could characterize being catholic along a spectrum according to so called “social issues.” Again, remember that if we were to talk about doctrine, like the Trinity, or the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus, you wouldn’t get this same divide. But when we apply core doctrine to how do you actually live a Christian life, then you do get into the area of catholic social teaching (or politics). It’s easy to say “Love God, love neighbor” and get agreement. But it’s another thing when this translates into school funding, taxes, what type of healthcare, what benefits are due a worker, etc. And that’s just within the same country. What do we do about foreign aid? Which countries can we help, should we help? When you move from into international relations, it can get rather complex. You can have varying opinions on this and it does little good if we jump to quickly to translating that into who is being a “good” catholic/Christian or who are the “real” catholics/Christians based on the working out of these policies. Remember the call to "Be Reconciled to Christ." Are we working toward greater unity and communion, or are we being further divided?
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