The Hildebrand Project provided a different perspective on the role of Catholics in the 21st century in a lecture on Tuesday evening titled “Catholic Social Doctrine in the Age of Trump” in the Gentile Gallery.
R.R. Reno, editor of “First Things” magazine who holds a doctorate in religious ethics from Yale University, explained that in the modern era, the Church faced two major challenges: the totalitarian temptations of the modern political life and the erosion of traditional forms of life.
These challenges, according to Reno, led to two distinct but complementary emphases in social teaching: one that seeks to limit the role of government and the other that seeks to increase solidarity among people.
“Too often today, small government and solidarity are presented in political opposition; we should learn from the Church and pursue them together,” said Reno.
Reno said that how to be human is to desire to be self-governing, self-directing and free. He shared that when most people today think about self-government, they think of voting. However, in his opinion, “voting is a pretty thin expression of self-governing, compared to what we do in our private lives.” He explained how there is more freedom and self-direction and governance in where one decides to go to school, what car one buys and where one lives.
Reno offered some solutions to the modern crisis, such as a national sense of patriotism which needs to be revived. “Unlike a college degree, the flag is everyone’s possession,” he said.
Reno even suggested some radical ideas of government intervention. He proposed that the government should put a tax on divorce: “We tax cigarettes because their bad for people’s health; well, divorce is bad for the health of the economy.”
Reno also proposed the criminalization of pornography. “In renewing moral principle, we can create stable class, marriages, jobs and overall a stable life,” he said.
Freshman Josh Gallop said, “I was able to gain a much better grasp of Catholic social teaching and how it applies specifically to me as a young Catholic.”