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Michael Gerson: Catholic Republicans’ political beliefs, challenged by their faith

February 10, 2011

The Catholic tradition asserts the necessity of limited government. The establishment of justice and acts of compassion should be done at the lowest, most human levels of society, instead of by distant, centralized bureaus – a perspective fully consistent with the designs of America’s founders. But gaps in the justice and compassion of a society require government intervention to secure the common good, which is not common until it includes the poor, the immigrant, the sick, the disabled, the unborn. Catholic teaching elevates the primary importance of families, charities and strong communities – while rejecting the simplistic notion that such institutions render government unnecessary. In determining the proper balance between civil society and government, there is much room for political debate. But the search for that balance is a source of sanity in our political life, involving the rejection of both collectivist and libertarian utopias.

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