Secular progressive political philosophy is entirely incompatible with the theological, philosophical, and social doctrines of the Catholic Church. Pointing this out should be rather uncontroversial. Progressives follow relativistic views on the definition of marriage, gender identity, sexual orientation, and what generally constitutes personhood. In addition to this they are aggressively pro-abortion and favor euthanasia. These views are derivatives of a materialistically grounded, Neo-Darwinian form of eugenic social engineering.
The Catholic Church differs significantly on these issues. Rather than being a relativistic social construct, marriage is the lifelong, monogamous union of a man and woman committed to building a family through the sexual union of the marital act. The primary identity of the human person is being made in the image and likeness of the Triune God, and more specifically in the imago Christi, since creation is for Christ and not Christ for creation. This primary identity, then, entails that all other identities be placed in subordination to that of being made in the image of God. Racial and gender theories placing these accidental features of the human person above the primary identity are making a category mistake in the area of personhood and personal identity. The Catholic Church also teaches that abortion and euthanasia are intrinsically immoral acts that degrade the dignity of the human person and simultaneously erode the moral fabric of society.
These social and political perspectives, then, could not be more divergent in their views of what constitutes a moral and flourishing society.
Progressives existing in the ranks of the Catholic Church, know that they are not in line with Church teaching regarding marriage, abortion, birth control, gender identity theory, etc. There has never been a change in these teachings and there never will be. In knowing this, however, they look to push the Church in a very specific direction by subverting her teachings and undermining her divinely instituted magisterial authority. Rather than claim that their teachings are in line with what the Church teaches, progressives look to influence and steer the Mystical Body of Christ away from her traditions. Progressives will never succeed in their efforts, but they can deceive others through their rebellion.
Libertarians, however, are much more confused than progressives regarding the social teachings of the Church. They believe their social, political, and economic commitments are in line with official Church doctrine. The confusion becomes apparent when they simultaneously claim to be in line with Church teaching, but also try to cultivate influence in her ranks to push the Church in a specific direction in politics and economics similar to the desire of the progressive activists.
Catholic social doctrine, to use contemporary philosophical terminology, is communitarian and perfectionist in its treatment of the social order. These two positions are informed by classic metaphysical realism at the foundation, not to mention divine revelation delivered by Jesus to the Apostles in the deposit of faith. Contemporary libertarian political philosophy is individualistic and anti-perfectionist in its treatment of the social order. These two positions are informed by metaphysical nominalism. The political economy derived from the former is identified with distributism while the latter is associated with laissez-faire capitalism. Moreover, the Catholic position views economics as a branch of moral philosophy and subordinate to ethical considerations while libertarians view economics as a science that is predominately disassociated from moral philosophy and is considered to be ‘value-free.’
There is simply no way to claim that these two positions are compatible, equal to each other, or are even allies against ‘big government’ progressivism.
The double-mindedness of the Catholic libertarian position creates a problem for the claim that they are in line with the teachings of the Church. Why must the Church move in a specific political and economic direction if her teachings already cohere with contemporary libertarian political philosophy? If Church teaching is inherently ‘anarchic’, how is it that Pope Leo XIII, Pope St. Pius X, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have all missed this obvious truism when writing encyclicals explaining the social traditions of the Church? How is it that Pope after Pope can continually misidentify the pearls of wisdom discovered by Mises and Rothbard, and mistakenly label their tenets as being contrary to the gospel? How is it that Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and the entire magisterium, have completely missed the Rothbardian axiom of taxation being theft and intrinsically evil? How is it that this golden nugget of freedom has never been properly identified? Certainly something as obvious, axiomatic, and apodictic as this would have at some point been shouted from the halls of the Vatican. Moreover, it is well known that Pope Leo XIII initiated the Thomistic revival of the Church before Vatican II, and yet, are we to believe that Leo completely missed the libertarianism of the Angelic Doctor himself when looking to guide the project he called for?
The absurd narrative claiming libertarianism is consistent with Catholic social doctrine is profoundly misguided. The so-called Catholic libertarians want to have their cake and eat it too; they want us to believe the Church is inherently libertarian, while at the same time claim that the Church has not properly recognized the economic discoveries which inform modern libertarian theory. Due to this “blind spot” Catholic libertarians can ignore all of the teachings denouncing their views so that they might invent their own ideology and anachronistically read back into Church history, her documents, and even the Sacred Page. It is a fallacious story, and I will continue to expose it as long as it is being told.
– Lucas G. Westman