Seemingly in exchange for the cooperation of evangelicals, conservative American Catholics have abandoned one of the great jewels in the crown of the Church, her modern social magisterium, the tradition that runs from Pope Pius IX’s denunciation of Victorian-era classical liberalism to Pope Francis’ Heideggerian assault on the merciless logic of globalized technocratic capitalism. For evangelicals, the idea that there is a common good toward which the political order must be oriented — and that this mutual flourishing cannot be conceived of as the mere aggregate of millions of individuals pursuing their own material interests with limited interference from the state — has no basis in theology. In return for evangelicals’ acknowledgement of one evil, Catholics have learned to ignore what the Church has to tell them about how we are to live in the world with one another.
What has been the result of this abandonment of principles? Forty years of infanticide, economic exploitation, and spoliation of the Earth as the forces of capital and technology disrupt all our settled customs, habits, convictions, and affections, at an increasingly rapid pace. Think tanks have been founded, fellowships have been granted, journals have been founded, and symposiums held. A whole new conception of politics has emerged out of what ought to have been a limited prudential alliance — but the clock has not been turned back a minute. “All that is solid melts into air,” as Marx put it, and Catholics and evangelicals stand together with their paper cups trying to catch a few drops of the precious liquid to put back in their broken refrigerators.