Why Catholics Will Decide This Election
By Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Let me begin by laying all my cards on the table.
First, I write this as a private citizen. Second, I write this as my opinion - I am not numbered among those who think that God tells anyone how political elections will turn out. Third, I acknowledge up front that I want to see John F. Kerry's campaign fail. Fourth, I write this as a citizen who has disagreements with the current administration on serious issues including war and peace. Fifth, I write this as a "reluctant" Republican, having left the Democratic party years ago when it failed to hear the cry of those whom Mother Teresa rightly called the "poorest of the poor", children in the first home of their mothers womb.
Finally, I write this as a faithful Roman Catholic Christian who seeks to inform my life, including my political participation, by my faith. I absolutely reject the subterfuge of Catholics in public life (like John F. Kerry) who take positions diametrically at odds with the truth taught by the Church and then try to use their identification as a Catholic to win votes.
There is no "Catholic Vote" in the sense of a bloc of Catholics who, like other interest groups, vote in one party or another, there is a growing body of Catholic voters, Democrat, Republican, Independent and non-aligned voters, who are politically active and will turn out in great numbers for this vital election. Catholics do not identify as either "liberal" or "conservative", they are however Catholic- and they are not going to be used by one who claims to be one of their own for political gain.
Let's be honest. In previous elections, most Catholics have voted for the Democratic candidate. I understand. I was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, in an Irish, French Catholic and Democratic household. Many of us have simply mistrusted the other party, concerned that Republicans do not have a genuine concern for the poor. Now, John Kerry is claiming to be a part of our community. If he is, why are Catholics not lining up behind him? The answer is because Catholics do not trust him.
So then why do I say that Catholics will decide this election?
Though I lived and worked "in the beltway", I no longer do. I am out in the "real world" and I discern an amazing phenomenon brewing in the Catholic community. It is not that most Catholics are necessarily "pro-Bush", though some are. It is the reverse of what some pundits maintain will be the deciding factor in this election. You have heard some refer to a growing "anyone but Bush" sentiment in some circles. I see the opposite among Catholics. There is a growing "anyone but Kerry" sentiment.
Why? Because we do not want to be used by an opportunistic candidate who professes to believe what our Church teaches about life and marriage but acts in a manner that is diametrically opposed to these positions. By doing so, Mr. Kerry not only puts his own soul at risk, but he has alienated scores of Catholics as a result and is going to lose the election because of it. There is an obvious irony here. This allegedly "Catholic candidate" will be kept out of office by Catholics. The Catholic community senses a fraud and will not be used in this way.
We would love to elect a faithful Catholic to the highest office of the land; one who recognizes that the first human right is the right to life; who knows that marriage and family are the first vital cell of society and serve the common good; one who truly cares about the poor and the needy and insists that the market economy be at the service of the person, the family and the common good; one who is dedicated to authentic social justice and peace and has a true commitment to the faith that he or she professes.
This kind of authentically Catholic candidate would know that Catholic social teaching is not "religious" in the sense that it is only for religious people. Rather, it contains the principles and wisdom needed in this desperate hour to build a more just society. Such a candidate could be part of the answer to the pressing needs of a nation desperately in need of true leadership.
However, John F. Kerry is not that man. He will be kept out of office by Catholics who will not vote for President Bush as much as vote against John Kerry. I am numbered among them. We will be the political story of the 2004 election.
Fournier is a human rights lawyer long active in policy circles who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is also a Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond serving at Christ the King Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia.
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Lawyer/Activist, 757 546-9580
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