One common objection to the Catholic moral teaching is the accusation that the Church is involving herself in politics and attempting to control the state. What is assumed in this accusation is that the Church, in her teaching, is seeking to dictate laws to the governing body of a nation and impose her teachings on those who do not believe she teaches the truth. The other side of the coin is this: When the Church teaches on moral obligation which is in opposition to the individual's preferred political view, she is accused of siding with the opposing political view.
In both cases, the Church is speaking on a topic on which the listener does not want to be told he or she is wrong. Therefore the Church is accused of interfering in business that does not concern her. While it is an understandable error, it is an error nonetheless. What gets overlooked is the fact that governments and businesses are not merely impersonal autonomous beings. They are made up of men and women who have to make moral choices when setting policies which will affect other men and women. Such choices can be morally wrong.
(King Herod’s Massacre in Bethlehem)
The purpose of the Catholic Church is to carry out the mission that Our Lord tasked His apostles with, to go out and bring the message of salvation to the whole world. In doing so, she calls each person individually and each nation as a whole to turn away from the behaviors which separate them from God. The Greatest Commandments, which Our Lord gave us...
37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
…apply to our civil laws and business policies as well. A human law or business policy cannot go against what God has commanded us to do or avoid, and it cannot be harmful to the well being of the individual. Thus, when the Church speaks out against abortion or same sex “marriage” or the contraception mandate, she is speaking out against laws which violate what God has commanded and violate the dignity of the human person. This is why she also speaks out on ecological responsibility, treating illegal aliens justly and other policies.
These are not “merely political” issues where the Church is interfering. These are moral decisions with moral responsibility. When the nation or a business chooses a policy which violates what God commands, the Church has an obligation to speak to the individuals who are part of the government or business who make these decisions. She must tell them, “If you do this thing, you will place yourself in opposition to God."
However, in doing this, the Church does not say “You must vote for this party, candidate, program.” She speaks out against wrongdoing, but does not endorse a party or an economic system. If a specific political position or a business has staked out an odious position, it logically follows that we must oppose the position, and as long as the business or party holds that position, the relationship with the Church will be strained.
Ultimately, this is a case where people only want the Church to speak in a way which they agree with. If they disagree with the Church teaching, they want the Church to be silent. When they agree with what the Church teaches, she is praised. When they disagree, she is being “political.” But that’s being partisan, using ad hominem labels to negate arguments they dislike.
It’s important to remember that the moral obligations that come along with being a Christian are not relegated to the private sphere. People act publicly and so they can sin publicly in enacting unjust laws or corrupt business practices. When they do so, the Church must oppose their actions, denouncing the laws which go against what God commands.
Some people might object, saying this is an imposition of values on people who don’t share them. But that is a double standard—for they are doing the same thing by trying to push through laws which are in opposition to Christian moral teaching. If it is wrong for us to do this, it is wrong for them to do it. But if they insist that they are seeking to promote what is right, we claim the same motive.
Ultimately, the attack against the Church—that she is “interfering” in politics or trying to “control” the state—are merely an attempt to negate a moral challenge to their actions. Rejecting the challenge on the ground that it is “religious,” is an example of the genetic fallacy…by attacking the source of the challenge, it attempts to ignore the truth of the challenge.
But the fact remains—the Church is speaking against a legal or business action because it goes against what God calls us to be, and in choosing such a law or policy, one is rejecting God. Since the Church is concerned for both the individuals and for each group, she must speak out against wrongdoing…even when done by government or business.