The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Is the Tea Party Catholic?

Some people are asking that question — and Catholic News Agency has some answers:

CNA spoke about the movement with Dr. Steven Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, and Fr. Robert Sirico, president of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Acton Institute.


Fr. Sirico described the Tea Party as “an amorphous thing” with a lot of variety and as a “populist, spontaneous movement.” He thought its common themes include a desire for less government and a desire “to limit the power that politicians have over peoples’ lives.”

Participants find motivation in a variety of philosophies. Some have “well-developed Catholic sensibilities” while others’ sensibilities are “almost anarchistic.” He thought it was “remarkable” that the Tea Party could bring so many non-political people into the political process.

The Church’s teaching on subsidiarity can meet these people and “augment what they’re doing,” he said, while also guarding against “the more fanatical edges of the tea party.”


Fr. Sirico explained subsidiarity as being the principle that higher levels of society should not intervene in lower levels without “manifest and real necessity,” and such intervention should only be temporary.

“Needs are best met at the local level,” he said, calling government “the resource of last resort.”

For his part, Dr. Schneck agreed the Tea Party is still a movement being formed. He sees it as motivated in part by middle class frustration with “a political environment that seems to reward the rich and the poor but ignores or even undercuts the middle.” He also sees a “libertarian dynamic that wants to end do-gooder, nanny government.”

He told CNA that Catholics are called to practice politics based on four aspects: the dignity of the person, the common good rather than private interests, solidarity with our fellow citizens in community, and an understanding of subsidiarity that recognizes the appropriate role of the state and civil society in addressing community needs.


This approach also reveals other requirements for good politics, such as preferential consideration of the poor, welcoming the immigrant, the importance of family and community, and a “stewardship” understanding of property and creation.

Read the rest.

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Grumpy Old Person

posted November 23, 2010 at 11:53 am

Like George H. W. Bush, I too do not know WHAT the so-called “Tea Party” is.
One thing it is not is a political “party”. There’s no party platform, there’s no party leader, heck, there’s not even a party headquarters to which to inquire what their “policies” might even be.
A quick google search show that The Tea Party is a (rock?) band.
Apart from that, Father Sirico is right – it IS “an amorphous thing”.
But that’s the only point upon which he is right.
The tea baggers have NOT brought “so many non-political people into the political process”. They have brought a lot of gun-toting anarchists and screamers and (from what I have observed – and continue to observe) a lot of what I call ‘haters’, liars and fools. E.g. mice do NOT have “fully functioning human brains”, there were NO “headless bodies” found in the Arizona desert, and I don’t think most Americans believe businesses should be “free” to hang out the “Whites only” signs again, just because most (as in the VAST majority) of them are WASPs. All of these things (and worse) have been touted by people who call themselves ‘Tea Partiers’, even though the one who wants to bring back the “Whites only” signs actually got elected as a Republican!
They are torn between fiscal conservatives and the old, musty social conservatives who would make the tenets of their religion into laws governing ALL citizens if they could. I.E. they’re largely a bunch of fear-mongering religionists who will only serve to further divide America.
Shame on the lot of them.

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Robert C

posted November 23, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Typecasting again grump?

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Grumpy Old Person

posted November 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

Nope. Just observing.

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AZ Tea Partier

posted November 25, 2010 at 8:50 am

You’re wrong. Tea partiers aren’t “fear-mongering religionist”. You obviously haven’t attend one vent or received any communication from the tea party. You and a majority of the condeming populus believe the left slanted press who wants to vilify the tea parties. I joined the local tea party because I was tired of our current congressman and women not listening to me. It has nothing to do with race or religion like some would like you to believe. TEA party stands for TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY..hence Tea Party. No we are not a polical party we are Americans united to bring this country back from BIG GOVERNMENT AND HUGE TAX BURDEN. Don’t condemn something you have no intimate knowledge of…that is called ignorance and prejudice against your fellow American. Shame.

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posted November 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I, too, have gotten tired of various office holders not listening to me. Unlike the nucleus of the tea party, however many there were, I never had the good luck to have radical billionaires like the Kochs toss me a few million dollars to fund the founding of a party. And if I had founded a party I’d have worked harder to keep out the kooks and bigots.

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