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Catholic views divided on election's meaning

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The Obama presidency will provoke "a church in resistance" -- with the U.S. bishops and priests in the pulpit battling the new administration’s pro-abortion rights agenda at every turn. Or, alternatively, "the Obama moment will force all Catholics to ask whether the common good of the human family, at home and across the world, truly matters."

So say two prominent Catholic intellectuals -- one conservative, one liberal -- providing initial clues as to how American Catholics may respond to the Obama administration.

Politics could get ugly in parish parking lots this weekend

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This final weekend before the 2008 Election Day could see parishioners, police and political activists mingling in church parking lots as the struggle to influence the highly valued Catholic vote takes on new urgency in the waning days of this election.

One group, Priests for Life, an antiabortion group founded and head by Fr. Frank Pavone, has called on supporters to use weekend Masses to distribute leaflets in the parking lots and streets around Catholic churches this weekend.

Priests for Life hosted a teleconference call to supporters Oct. 27 with detailed instructions on what to do this weekend. The group said more than 3,000 people were on the line. Listeners were told: “Go to politicalrespondibilty.com (one of the group’s web sites) and download the nonpartisan voters’ guide that is available for distribution there.

Catholic 'common good' notions embedded in Obama policies

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As the campaign draws to its close, John McCain and economic adviser Joe the Plumber have reached into the Cold War closet for one last desperate round of attacks: painting his opponent as a “socialist” bent on the “redistribution of wealth.” This strange attack is based on Joe’s ignorance of the Federal Tax code, which will remain progressive should either candidate win. Joe’s ignorance is excusable; McCain’s is not. He certainly knows the tax code and the idea of a “graduated tax on big fortunes” was championed by none other than McCain’s hero Teddy Roosevelt as a tool to fight…socialism.

White Catholic support grows for Obama

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Within days of the general election, as the abortion debate flares in some Catholic circles, two prominent surveys show that Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s support among white Catholics has grown significantly since September and that less than a third of Catholic voters are making their decision based on the issue of abortion.

According to a report released October 30 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, surveys show that support for Obama from white, non-Hispanic Catholics has grown from a 13 point deficit in late September to an eight-point lead in late October.

The Catholic vote is a much sought after swing vote because Catholics regularly choose the winner of the popular vote, regardless of party. John Green, a senior fellow at Pew, said that the largest shift toward Obama came among white Catholic independents, “with only modest changes among white Catholics who identify as Republicans or Democrats.”

'Why Archbishop Chaput's abortion stance is wrong'

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Commentary
I greatly admire Archbishop Chaput. As the former dean of the Catholic University law school, I often benefited from the Archbishop's writing and insight. I still do.

The good Archbishop, however, has taken issue with my recent book, Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama, suggesting, in his personal view as a private citizen, that Catholic teaching does not support an affirmative answer.

(Chaput on a vote for Obama.)

At the outset, it should be observed that whatever disagreement the Archbishop perceives between us, it is not over the essence of Church instruction which gives primacy to the promotion of human life, but rather, the preferred means of implementing it.

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.)

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