On Litmus Tests and the Common Good, by Randall Smith

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*The “Priest Barracks” at Dachau (1933-1945) held 2720 clergymen of all faiths, 95% of whom were Roman Catholic.

By Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing, Feb. 11, 2021

Randall B. Smith is a Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas. His book Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Guidebook for Beginners is available from Emmaus Press. …


Randall SmithBishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego recently accused “some bishops” of making abortion a “litmus test” for Catholic politicians during the Biden presidency.  These bishops, he said, “argue that abortion is not merely a ‘preeminent’ issue in Catholic Social Teaching, but rather constitutes the de facto ‘litmus test’ for determining whether a Catholic public official is a faithful Catholic, and for determining whether the overall policy stances of non-Catholic officials can be considered morally legitimate.”

Bishop McElroy is also disappointed, it seems, that some bishops are advancing “an overall stance of confrontation” with the new president whereas Pope Francis “has placed encounter, dialogue, honesty and collaboration at the heart of his approach to public conversation” and thus would be “unlikely to endorse” punitive actions such as withholding Communion from President Biden because of his public abortion advocacy.  He added that “if adopted, such a position will reduce the common good to a single issue.”  …

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