Father Thomas Reese, a Catholic Jesuit professor, told CNN on Monday that religious belief should not be used as the sole basis for laws, noting that the philosophically-inclined saints Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas actually believed prostitution should be legal, though they morally opposed it.
“Faith has motivated people to be involved in politics,” he said, noting the abolitionist movement. “At the same time, theologians since Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have argued that all of the moral law should not be enacted as part of civil law. For example, both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas were in favor of legalized prostitution, because they thought it would protect good women from bad men. So each politician has to look at the moral law, look at what’s good for society, and actually also have to look at what’s possible, what can be implemented as part of law.”
“And I think what we hear from Congressman Ryan is, he believes that abortion can be made illegal in this country,” Reese continued. “I think Vice President Biden is saying, no, there are just too many people who this is not a matter of conscience for.”
The Jesuit priest noted that Ryan’s proposed budget had been condemned by Catholic bishops. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who represent all U.S. bishops on key issues, have claimed that cuts in Ryan’s budget plan are “unjustified and wrong” because they would hurt the poor while protecting the wealthy. However, the Catholic church has also been critical of the Obama administration on issues regarding contraception and abortion.
“[The Pope] sees no objection to using government to redistribute wealth,” Reese explained. “In fact, he says that’s one of the purposes of government. So we see that the Catholic church is — on abortion, is to the right of people. But when it comes to economic issues, it’s very much to the left.”
Watch video, courtesy of CNN, below: