There seems to be an undefined group of Catholics who some call “Peace and Justice Catholics”. They are typified as aging hippies. They named their churches “Prince of Peace” in the sixties as a kind of flower power protest. These peace and justice Catholics are portrayed by conservatives as left wing, tree hugging, bra burning, gay loving, contracepting, bleeding heart liberals.

On the other side of the fence are what might be called Piety and Purity Catholics. They are the conservatives who are all for the authority of the Church, family values, high standards of sexual morality. They are typified by the other side as wearing sport coats, shirt and tie. Hair combed and with a  large brood of scowling kids with an exhausted wife with a calf length skirt and straggly hair smiling through her sufferings. Both caricatures are silly and both extremist views are misplaced.

The left is wrong and the right is wrong and the left is right and the right is right.

Peace and justice Catholics are right to take a prophetic stance against corporate greed, governments that engage in unjust war, the destruction of the environment, racism and any form of injustice. They are right to stand up for the poor, the marginalized and those on the margins of society. They are wrong, however, when they foster dissent in the church and turn a blind eye to the moral teachings and the authority of the Catholic church.

Too often when the Peace and Justice Catholics demand peace they really mean the appeasement of evil. Too often they mistake pacifism for peace. Similarly, they too often they call for justice for some oppressed group, but never think that justice would also judge their moral laxity. Why don’t the Peace and Justice Catholics demand justice for the millions of unborn babies that have been slaughtered?

On the other side, the  Piety and Purity conservatives are all for “family values”. They are opposed to same sex marriage, contraception, abortion and divorce. However they are too often silent about the injustice in our society. I’m shocked at the anti-semitism and subtle racism I sometimes hear within their ranks. I’m worried when their conservative family values are sometimes equated with a jingoistic, uncritical American patriotism and militarism. Why are they so often silent about the assault on the environment, the plight of immigrants and the widening wealth disparity in the developed world? Why do we hear so little about their involvement in the fight against hunger and solidarity with the poor? Why are they so often dismissive and hateful of everyone not like themselves?

In today’s psalm the psalmist says, “I sing of justice and mercy”. That phrase “Justice and Mercy” pulls the rug out from both the right and the left. Read More.