Schneck opposes the Democratic Party's commitment to legal abortion, a principle made explicit in the party platform. “That's not where I am,” he said, “and surprisingly, many other Democrats are with me.”
He would “like to turn the Democratic Party in a direction where it's much more supportive of what we're trying to accomplish.”
Schneck pointed out that Democrats for Life had spoken out “many times” against the party's abortion commitment. But he acknowedged that “Catholics in Alliance hasn't, so much.”
That's because, Schneck said, “it is more concerned with what are generally thought of as Catholic social thought issues – more concerned with issues like poverty and a living wage, and collective bargaining, those sorts of things.”
“I think that it would be nice if all of our groups embraced the whole range of Catholic social teaching, especially as it relates to the dignity of the human person,” he said.
But “for reasons of practicality,” he says it “makes sense for some groups to focus primarily on the issue of ending abortion on demand, and other groups to focus on the environment or anti-poverty programs.”
When asked whether he thought pro-life Democrats had done an adequate job confronting former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on abortion, Schneck said it was a “fair question” and promised to “do my best” in the future.
Pelosi's 2007 commencement address at the Catholic University of San Francisco was not accompanied by a public protest akin to the Boehner letter.
Professor Stephen Krason, a political scientist at Franciscan University of Steubenville and President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, disagrees with Schneck's stand against Boehner.
Krason personally identifies himself politically as “neither left, nor right, but Catholic.” He told CNA on May 24 that Schneck's letter to Boehner mistakenly identified Catholic teaching with leftist politics.
“I look at that letter and see them taking political positions, and trying to put them forth as the teaching of the Church – things which are in the realm of prudential judgment,” Krason said. “They seem to identify these policies with Catholic social teaching.”
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Krason said Schneck and the other signers were “convoluting certain basic teachings of the Church, especially subsidiarity.”
That principle of Catholic teaching, which the Boehner protesters invoke against budget cuts, favors smaller-scale action through local communities unless a problem demands a central solution.
“They're wanting to continue a kind of policy-from-the-center, policy from the highest level of government,” Krason pointed out. “You only go to the highest level if there's a genuine need to do that. I don't know that they've made that case.”
Krason also questions whether the policies preferred by Schneck and his allies have actually worked to create their intended effects.
“They seem to identify these policies that are out there as policies which are good for the poor and disadvantaged,” he observed. “I'm not sure that is historically and evidentially accurate.”
At a basic level, Krason said that Catholics “have the freedom to choose different approaches and policies to uphold and further the principles of Catholic social teaching.”