The meaning of all this for the Church in the U.S. is to be cautious about supporting public policy initiatives just because they seem on the surface to address human needs and promote human rights. Often, how something is done is as important as what is done. About public policy, one must always take into account the details of the legislation, delivery schemes, counter-productivity, likely long-term developments, unintended consequences, and the political obsession with imagery over substance. Human dignity can be affronted in a myriad of ways, great and small, so that what seems to be an advance ends up as a serious retrogression.
Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly). He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and Associate Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also Co-Founder and President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic (Transaction Publishers, 2012), and most recently published an edited volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System (Scarecrow Press, 2013). This column first appeared in Crisismagazine.com.