Richard Neuhaus (The Public Square, December) did not like the recent University of St. Thomas law-journal symposium on "the future of pro-life progressivism." There are, of course, legitimate debates over the matters of war, the economy, antipoverty efforts, etc., on which several contributors to that symposium offered left-leaning perspectives. But Fr. Neuhaus falsely charges that the symposium was one-sided, in that John Paul II's vision in Centesimus Annus (CA) for "helping the poor enter into the circle of productivity of exchange ... rates barely a mention, and then only to complain about the way it has been hijacked by conservatives."
Even a glance at the issue's table of contents shows the article by the Acton Institute's Kevin Schmiesing, "Another Social Justice Tradition: Catholic Conservatives," which highlights and quotes CA: "The pope approves of that capitalism 'which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property, and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector.'"
Likewise, Helen Alvare's paper quotes CA's passages on the importance of "know how" and education and argues that the traditional family structure bolsters education and achievement, an argument I expect Fr. Neuhaus would have endorsed had he happened upon it while flipping through the symposium pages.
Fr. Neuhaus charges that all the liberal participants in the symposium believe they "care more about other people" than conservatives do and that they displayed...