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New booklet details Obama's early Catholic influences

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Dr. Patrick Whelan, a Boston physician, was teaching a course in medical ethics at Harvard University when then-St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, in the heat of the 2004 election, declared that Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry should be denied Communion because of his positions on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research (NCRonline, Aug. 8, 2008).

That was enough.

Whelan writes he realized then that “the issues that interfaced between Catholicism and politics were medical ethics issues” and he was curious that there were no doctors involved in the conversation. So he contacted the Kerry campaign to ask how he could get involved in Catholic outreach, only to be told the campaign had no such outreach effort.

That’s when the energized Whelan started a Web site that resulted in “Catholics for Kerry.” He discovered that throughout the country “there were groups of dedicated people” aware that “Catholic issues had been misappropriated to serve the Republican agenda.”

Can a conscientious Catholic vote for McCain?

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One of the worst-kept secrets in Washington is that John McCain really doesn’t care very much about the so-called social issues -- abortion, gay marriage, prayer in schools. McCain’s policy passions lie elsewhere -- primarily military and foreign policy issues. Fair enough.

No less than former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a conservative Catholic leader, said as much earlier this year. “It’s amazing to hear what John McCain is trying to convince the voters he is all about,” Santorum explained during the Republican primaries. “The bottom line is I served 12 years with him, six years in the Senate as one of the leaders of the Senate, trying to put together the conservative agenda, and almost at every turn, on domestic policy, John McCain was not only against us, but leading the charge on the other side.”

'Bishops narrow anti-abortion effort hurts pro-life cause'

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NCR Editorial
Another presidential election cycle is nearly ended, and once again the Catholic bishops in the United States have sadly distinguished themselves for the narrowness and, in too many cases, barely concealed partisanship, of their political views.

Cycle after cycle they have promulgated the same message: Abortion trumps all other issues and the only credible approach to fighting abortion is voting for candidates who express a wish to overthrow Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

We have persistently criticized the American bishops on this page for such a limited political strategy. For more than a quarter of a century they have generally used whatever political capital they might have in attempts to deliver the Catholic vote to whomever is making the most agreeable promises that year.

Can a conscientious Catholic vote for McCain?

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One of the worst kept secrets in Washington is that John McCain really doesn’t care very much about the so-called social issues — abortion, gay marriage, prayer in schools. McCain’s policy passions lie elsewhere — primarily military and foreign policy issues. Fair enough.

No less than former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a conservative Catholic leader, said as much earlier this year. “It’s amazing to hear what John McCain is trying to convince the voters he is all about,” Santorum explained during the Republican primaries.

“The bottom line is, I served 12 years with him, six years in the Senate as one of the leaders of the Senate, trying to put together the conservative agenda, and almost at every turn, on domestic policy, John McCain was not only against us, but leading the charge on the other side.”

'Don't Let the Bishops Swing the Election ñ Again!'

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Commentary
I really resent the few U.S. bishops who are now engaged in a campaign to swing the election for John McCain -- as they did for George W. Bush in 2004.

Four years ago, Archbishops Charles Chaput of Denver and Raymond Burke, then of St. Louis, Mo., (Burke has just left St. Louis to take a post in the Vatican) succeeded in bringing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) into the media mix. They requested, then disseminated, a letter from the prefect of the Vatican's Holy Office which, Vatican nuances aside, told Catholics not to vote for the dubiously Catholic Senator John Kerry, because he was "pro-abortion." (Kerry wasn't pro-abortion; he was pro-choice. There is a difference, as I will explain in a moment.)

All eyes on California's high-stakes gay marriage fight

Pastor Jim Garlow is fasting and praying at his megachurch in La Mesa, Calif., to encourage fellow California evangelicals to vote for Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Jan Garbosky, meanwhile, married her lesbian partner of 20 years on Oct. 4 at their Unitarian Universalist church in San Diego and has been coordinating interfaith clergy phone banks to encourage state residents to vote against the measure and preserve gay marriage in the nation's most populous state.

For both sides in the fight over same-sex marriage, all eyes are on California because what's decided by Golden State voters on Nov. 4 could have ripple effects from coast to coast.

As the theme of an upcoming 12-hour anti-gay marriage rally in San Diego bills it, "As California goes, so goes the nation."

Helping pregnant women not enough, prelates say

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WASHINGTON
Catholics are required to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies, the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in an Oct. 21 statement.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also urged Catholics to study church teaching on matters pertaining to abortion rather than rely on statements and materials from outside organizations.

The prelates' statement was released in response to two arguments that have surfaced in the abortion debate during the run-up to the Nov. 4 election.

Editor's note: Read the full text of the joint statement.

Latinos seen as key to outcome of presidential election

WASHINGTON
As pollsters and political analysts try to predict the outcome of the election, Latino voters have become a target for intense attention -- by tea-leaf readers as well as the candidates.

Latinos have been swing voters in the last several elections -- with majorities supporting Democratic Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and Republican President George W. Bush in 2004.

With population growth, Hispanics' percentage of the electorate has steadily risen. Frustration over the failure of Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill also has led many longtime legal permanent residents to become naturalized citizens and register to vote for the first time. A nationwide naturalization and voter registration campaign waged over the last two years has made those steps easier for people and helped keep up interest in voting.

Memphis Bishop calls upon Catholics to avoid 'one issue' votes

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Memphis Bishop J. Terry Steib this week called upon Catholics to avoid being one-issue voters. He asked them to follow their consciences and weigh all the moral issues they face before casting their ballots.

“We must recognize,” he wrote, “that God through the church, is calling us to be prophetic in our own day. If our conscience is well formed, then we will make the right choices about candidates who may not support the church's position in every case.”

'U.S. bishops damaging rich Catholic faith tradition'

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Commentary
The Catholic church has a problem on its hands. Just weeks before the presidential election, a few bishops and prelates have come dangerously close to making implicit political endorsements by telling Catholics that abortion trumps all other moral issues and lashing out against the Democratic Party.

For those who support an essential role for faith in public life, this is a disturbing trend for both religion and democracy.

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