The truth about social justice and the moral life

James Kalb

The point of Catholic morality is to tell us how best to live.

Some are inclined to make it mostly about social justice. When the bishops issue a statement condemning pornography, they say it should have been about economics instead. They say that would do more to promote a good way of life.

Such views line up with public discussion today, which finds traditional conceptions of individual morality interfering, unforgiving, and judgmental. Situations are said to differ too much to talk about in the abstract, so many favor a sort of lifestyle ecumenism that looks for the good in all ways of life.

As a practical matter, that means a tendency toward lifestyle libertarianism, along with a comprehensive system of social welfare. The goal, people believe, should be an equal and compassionate society in which everyone is supported and accepted, so they aren't forced into desperate situations. Then the bad conduct people criticize will disappear as hard-pressed people become free to choose better things.

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