The Catholic Voices Blog
Catholicism driving the VP debate
Tomorrow night Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, two proud Catholics, will face off in the vice-presidential debate. Much has been written regarding the different lenses through which to view their faith, with most commentary reinforcing the tired narrative pitting "liberal" social justice Catholics against "conservatives" who emphasize social issues.
That story almost writes itself -- Joe Biden back-slapping his way through a union hall; Paul Ryan going to Mass with his young family. But it doesn't accurately reflect how most everyday Catholics understand our faith. Catholicism isn't binary, with pro-life beliefs somehow crowding out a desire to care for the poor or vice versa. Just the opposite is true: we're called to serve the voiceless and the vulnerable wherever we find them.
The continuing controversy over the HHS mandate illustrates this well. Catholic opposition to the mandate stems from our robust understanding of religious liberty, an understanding that fosters a true diversity of beliefs on contested moral issues. But it also stems from our knowledge that the fines the mandate imposes will hit the poor and those who serve them the hardest. There's a reason that court challenges to the mandate have been filed by groups like St. Martin Center of Erie, PA, a small social service provider that directly serves the needy, and the de l'Epee Deaf Center of Gulfport, MS. These front-line groups live an integrated faith that can't be disassembled at will.
We should be proud of groups like these that witness to the the vibrancy of our faith. And we should likewise be proud that Catholic teaching will be at the center of the national conversation as the two vice-presidential candidates square off.