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US Congressman Dan Lipinski: Catholic social teaching antidote to sectarianism

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U.S. REP. DAN LIPINSKI U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., gestures as he speaks during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 18, 2019. Lipinski, a Catholic, recently told Australians that Catholic social teaching is desperately needed to enrich public discourse in the face of increasing political polarization. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Catholic social teaching is desperately needed to enrich public discourse in the face of increasing political polarisation

With a Biden Presidency almost inevitable, an outgoing pro-life Democratic Congressman told Australians that Catholic social teaching is desperately needed to enrich public discourse in the face of increasing political polarisation.

Congressman Dan Lipinski, a Catholic, addressed the Johno Johnson forum in Australia via Zoom.

Parties have become a lot more ideological

“Parties have become a lot more ideological; more left-leaning among Democrats and more right among Republicans,” Lipinski told The Catholic Weekly.

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A protester in Vancouver, Wash., holds up her hands Oct. 31, 2020, as police detain other protesters (CNS photo/Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, Reuters)

“Western society cannot continue down this road. We no longer try to talk about our differences and see that we  come to some agreement. We need a whole lot more of honest dialogue because ‘cancel culture’ has really hurt us.”

Western society cannot continue down this road

Congressman Lipinski has represented the Third District of Illinois in the US House of Representatives since 2005 as a member of the Democratic Party’s centre-left ‘Blue Dog Coalition”- a grouping vaguely akin to Labor’ right faction in Australia.

He was defeated this year in the Democratic primary by Marie Newman on the issue of abortion.

Politics has changed over the last five to eight years

“Politics has changed over the last five to eight years –especially with social media –and the Democratic Party has moved increasingly left in the last couple of years,” he said.
“Ten years ago, about 25 per cent  of Democratic Party representatives opposed the federal funding of abortion. Now that number is far and few between.

Dan Lipinski on the Johno Johnson Forum via Zoom https://twitter.com/RepLipinski/status/1321914694102323201/photo/1

“It is not acceptable in some quarters of the Democratic Party  to be a person of faith, with more people who are joining the Democrats having that attitude.”

We should put our Catholic faith in front of partisanship

Congressman Lipinski drew cultural parallels with other western democracies –including Australia –  and emphasised the increasing need for Catholic social teaching as an alternative to the increasing partisanship engulfing social discourse.

Catholic charity volunteers pass food supplies to be delivered to people in need. To implement the teaching of Pope Francis’ new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” start by serving the needs of your community. Photo: CNS, courtesy Catholic Charities of San Antonio

“My Catholic faith is the most important motivator to me and all that I do and we should put our Catholic faith in front of partisanship,” he said.

“We have a very well-developed set of beliefs and principles but Catholic social thought is unfortunately not well understood – even by Catholics – and a problem we have here in the US is that a Catholic does not fit neatly into either party.”

What we really need to do is to learn about Catholic social thought

“What we really need to do is to learn about Catholic social thought and do a whole lot more informing others about it – ideas such as subsidiarity for example.”

Subsidiarity, the principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority, is a key component of Catholic social teaching.

The late Johno Johnson, pictured in December 2015, doing what he was so well known for doing — fundraising for good causes. Photographer Giovanni Portelli gave his account of meeting Johno and taking his photo on Facebook.

The Johno Johnson Forum is named for the late New South Wales Labor Parliamentarian Johno Johnson; a devout Catholic. Mr Johnson also served as a Chairman of the board of The Catholic Weekly for many years.

The forum was established in the wake of rising political sectarianism, to foster discussion of so-called third-way economic and social policies in a respectful manner.

For more information or to participate email: [email protected]

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