Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

2/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes

Now along comes Rick Santorum. A father of eight, he not only supports a pro-life message--he lives it. This Catholic politician doesn't come from a wealthy family who can buy elections for him. He doesn't rely on the mobsters or the political machine to fix elections. His grandfather was a coal miner, and he's made it on his own. Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes.His pro life credentials are complete. He is not just against abortion, but genuinely pro life--in favor of assistance for the poor, helping the fight against AIDS, and looking to build community in order to help the needy on a local level. (Fr. Dwight Longenecker)

Rick Santorum at a campaign stop, holding his daughter Bella

Rick Santorum at a campaign stop, holding his daughter Bella

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Santorum, politics, campaign 2012, Life, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Republican primary, Catholics Catholic Vote, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - As Rick Santorum surges in popularity people may be scratching their heads about his Catholic faith. The American public are used to Catholic politicians, but not this kind of Catholic politician.

I grew up as an Evangelical Protestant. We were prejudiced against Catholics. In our mind, Catholics were Democrats--and that was not good. We knew many of the blue collar folks were Catholics, but Catholics were also fat cats.

The Kennedys were Catholics and we had no respect for old Joe Kennedy who made his money as a bootlegger, nor for his philandering sons with their assumed air of American royalty. The Catholics we knew did not help to correct our prejudices. In our Puritanical Protestantism we didn't smoke or drink or play cards or gamble or go to the movies. The Catholics did all that bad stuff.

I know now that my prejudices were just that. Among the worldly and sinful Catholics were many good and holy Christians. Likewise, among us Puritanical Protestants it turned out that there were many fallen and hypocritical Christians. That is really not the issue here. What my Protestant prejudices reveal is what Protestants in America have long thought about Catholics.

Protestant Evangelicals combined their theological disagreements with Catholicism with the bad example of Catholics in public life. Every time a Kennedy misbehaved the Protestants sneered and had their suspicions confirmed.

Whenever Catholic politicians like Pelosi and Biden and Kerry stood against their own church in public, the Protestants pointed fingers. When the Catholic bishops did nothing to discipline the wayward politicians Protestants raised a knowing eyebrow saying, "That figures."
 
Furthermore, the Kennedy Catholics in Washington were put there by the Kennedy Catholics in their own neighborhood. When they met local Catholics, more often than not they met lukewarm, badly catechized, non church going people who were only Catholic because they were Irish or Italian.

Now along comes Rick Santorum. A father of eight, he not only supports a pro-life message--he lives it. This Catholic politician doesn't come from a wealthy family who can buy elections for him. He doesn't rely on the mobsters or the political machine to fix elections. His grandfather was a coal miner, and he's made it on his own. Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes.

His pro life credentials are complete. He is not just against abortion, but genuinely pro life--in favor of assistance for the poor, helping the fight against AIDS, and looking to build community in order to help the needy on a local level. Furthermore, he is open and obvious about his faith in a way that no other Catholic politician before him has dared to be.

Since Kennedy's famous promise that he would not let his Catholicism influence his political decision, the Catholic politicians have followed in his footsteps with disastrous effect. The majority of high profile Catholic politicians have not allowed their faith to influence their decisions--and that has been the problem.

Santorum is unapologetic about his faith and affirms that it is faith and family and freedom that will actually solve the country's problems at the root level. This profound insight is grounded in a Catholic faith that is fully informed, actively engaged and vitally involved. It is popular, positive, optimistic and upbeat, and the American people have never seen anything like it.

What is the response? The mainstream media seem bewildered by Santorum. They would like to paint him as an angry, anti abortion extremist. But he's clearly a nice guy. He's sensible. He listens. He insists that his platform is wider than the one anti abortion plank. The mainstream media also seem bewildered by Santorum's version of Catholicism.

The East coast elite, like the Protestants of my childhood, are also prejudiced about Catholicism. They also have also considered all Catholics to be Kennedy Catholics. But they are starting to notice that the Kennedys aren't around any more. They thought the Catholics were an alliance of big Bishops, big politicians and union leaders with huge resources and a hefty voting base. Santorum has jarred those prejudices.

Santorum has also jarred the Catholics themselves. For the last decade the Kennedy Catholic  Church in this country has been in decline. Cultural Catholics--those who are Catholic simply because of their ethnicity-- are increasingly aged and uninvolved in their faith. The young Catholics are better catechized, more pro life, more zealous for their faith and more active in the world, and Santorum represents this new wave of what we call the John Paul II generation of Catholics.

What must be most frightening to those who are instinctively against Santorum is his popularity with the Protestants. This is unprecedented in American politics. The Protestant Evangelicals were always wary of Catholic politicians because--that's right--they were all Kennedy Catholics. I don't think America has yet woken up to what an earthquake occurred within American religion when a group of Evangelical pastors prayed and joked with Santorum in Texas last week.

For the first time a Catholic politician is popular not only with Catholics, but with Evangelicals. Is anybody out there really opening their eyes to just how huge this new alliance could be? The fact that Santorum is openly admired by Evangelical Protestants also reveals another shift that has been going on for years.

For many cultural, historical and theological reasons, over the last thirty years the hard line between Protestants and Catholics has been softening. Evangelicals are far more likely now to regard Catholics like Santorum as allies rather than enemies.

Whether Santorum wins his party's nomination and ultimately the White House is a totally different issue. What is fascinating is how his appearance on the public scene has articulated existing shifts within Catholicism, within Christianity in America and within the culture as a whole.

The shift is catching the imagination of the whole of America and should make all of us wonder the true impact Santorum Catholicism will have on the future of the United States.

-----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a prolific author, blogger and sought after speaker. Visit his website and blog at dwightlongenecker.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

Obama declared 'amateur' and 'Marxist' by Center for Disease Control (CDC) official Watch

Image of Countless Central Americans, piling through the U.S. southern Border States along the border with Mexico has brought an influx of unvaccinated people with diseases that have since been eradicated in the U.S.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President Barack Obama's unchecked influx of unvaccinated child immigrants across the U.S. - Mexico border has an official with the centers for Disease Control denouncing him as a "Marxist" and "amateur." An email from the official called him the ... continue reading


Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks out on Obama's gay pride light show and the legalization of gay marriage Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In celebration of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, President Obama lit up the White House with rainbow colors, which garnered a response from Republican, former Arkansas governor and now presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was noted as saying that ... continue reading


Supreme Court 'unwrote laws of nature' GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saying that the Supreme Court tried to "unwrite the laws of nature and the laws of nature's God" when it legalized gay marriage across the nation last week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also pointed out the fact that President Barack Obama himself ... continue reading


'They will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is': Donald Trump fired from NBC for controversial immigrant statements Watch

Image of Donald Trump retired from The Apprentice after announcing his presidential bid.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

NBC has made the decision to cut ties with Donald Trump, over his political view and controversial statements regarding immigration made during his presidential announcement. Donald Trump and NBC have had a relationship, including Trump's produced Miss USA and Miss ... continue reading


When is the best time to take out Social Security? Watch

Image of 100-year-old woman.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Financial advisers usually advice their clients to take Social Security benefits at the age of 70 for maximum growth. However, it is found that most people don't take that advice, as they are likely to withdraw what they have saved up as soon as they hit retirement. A ... continue reading


IT'S NOT OVER: Freedom of Religion may trump same-sex marriage victories Watch

Image of

By Matt Hadro and Adelaide Mena, CNA/ETWN News

Friday's Supreme Court ruling against the traditional understanding of marriage may pose huge obstacles to the free exercise of religion and conscience across the U.S., the nation's bishops have said in response to the decision. Washington D.C.(CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


Decisions on same-sex marriage, power-plant emissions now in the hands of Supreme Court Watch

Image of Six major cases, all of them affecting the American Way of Life are in front of the Supreme Court.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Six major cases, all of them affecting the American Way of Life are in front of the Supreme Court. Decisions regarding same-sex marriages, power plant emissions and execution methods will all be rendered by either Friday or early next week. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett's family has strong communist roots, files prove Watch

Image of Valerie Jarrett's father, pathologist and geneticist Dr. James Bowman, has been found to have had extensive ties to Communist associations and individuals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Does the apple truly fall far from the tree? Recently uncovered files show that Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama and trusted confidant has family ties with those with communist leanings. These uncovered files prove that Jarrett's ... continue reading


Donald Trump surges in popularity polls in New Hampshire Watch

Image of Dismissed by political professionals, who view him as little more than a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dismissed by political professionals, who view him as little more than a "novelty candidate," there's no denying Donald Trump's surge in popularity in opinion polls in New Hampshire. The billionaire developer and reality TV show star comes in at second among ... continue reading


Terrorists who pose as journalists will no longer have protection from the U.S. new Pentagon manual states Watch

Image of The new manual from the pentagon is designed to reflect the fact that many fighters do not wear military uniforms or pretend to be trusted civilians to hit targets.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Pentagon has released new instructions on dealing with terrorists, or more specifically, terrorists who pose as journalists or journalists who work with terrorist groups. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "Department of Defense Law of War Manual" is a ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:24-29
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Thomas
July 3: St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter