Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/25/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Any earnest Catholic who either runs, or holds political office, deserves both our admiration and our prayers.

If you are pro-life and pro-family expect the biggest challenge to come from Catholics: At least half of those voters who identify themselves as Catholics will be disposed to oppose you. I can't remember all the times I have talked to Catholic candidates who are completely bewildered by the antagonism they have encountered among various parts of the institutional Church, from the parish and chancery to the bishops and their conference.You will lose count of the times that Catholic politicians and activists  will stand Catholic moral teaching on its head.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/25/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Catholics, faithful citizenship, catholic vote, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Smith, social justice, social doctrine, compendium of the Social Doctrine, seamless garment, moral teaching, catholics in politics, political participation, activism, Deal W.Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - Any earnest Catholic who either runs, or holds political office, deserves both our admiration and our prayers. Because a Catholic politician, from day one, faces some long-standing hostilities and deeply rooted prejudices among his prime constituency, the Catholic voter. These volatile crosscurrents, if not surveyed in advance, can drown a candidacy.

A Catholic politician who has practiced the faith for years will know much of this ahead of time but will be surprised at how quickly the point of contact between Catholicism and politics becomes white hot. Knowing and affirming the fundamentals of the Catholic faith has not boded well for candidates entering the fray.

The chronicle of Catholics in Congress over the past fifty years is a sad one. Far more pro-abortion Catholics have served in the House and Senate than pro-life. The positions taken on life issues by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ) could not be  more dissimilar.  But it's the model of a Catholic legislator handed down by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, rather than that of the late Rep. Henry Hyde that predominates among our members of Congress.

Catholic politicians need to know their faith, of course, but will be surprised by how their basic principles are challenged both in the election and, even more, in the office itself. There are some practical measures, like those taken by Catholic politician Rep. Chris Smith, to encourage Catholic politicians not to cave in to the pressures of the secular establishment and Catholic "progressives."

1. If you are pro-life and pro-family expect the biggest challenge to come from Catholics: At least half of those voters who identify themselves as Catholics will be disposed to oppose you. I can't remember all the times I have talked to Catholic candidates who are completely bewildered by the antagonism they have encountered among various parts of the institutional Church, from the parish and chancery to the bishops and their conference.

2. You will lose count of the times that Catholic politicians and activists  will stand Catholic moral teaching on its head. Life issues become just one more issue, no more important than prudential matters such as immigration and healthcare policy. The legacy of the "seamless garment" is real and remains a matter of constant vigilance in Catholic voter outreach.We only hope that Pope Francis can help to heal the deep division among Catholics who consider themselves pro-life and those who embrace the moniker of "social justice."

However, for a Catholic politician it's fatal to assume this division can be ignored. Those two ways of self-description are reliable predictors of how Catholics will vote, assuming they are not missing any important information or have been deliberately misinformed.  Pope Francis is teaching by word and example that social justice begins with respect for the unborn and vulnerable lives. May it heal this division in our Church!

3. Some who refer to themselves as "Social justice" (many Catholics who embrace the Social Doctrine take offense at the the co-opting of the term) or "Progressive" Catholics, as they now like to be called, will go to incredible lengths to find fault with pro-life Catholic politicians. They will go even further to invent pro-life credentials for Catholics who are pro-abortion or, as they prefer, "pro-choice."

Under the assumed banner of caring about human life "from birth to death," this "progressive" Catholic crowd will elevate any and all of their political priorities to the pro-life category. For example, if a Catholic member of Congress suggests an entitlement program does not need to be expanded by, say, 5%, the Catholic "progressives" will scream and yell about "abandoning the poor," and the pummeling will begin. It's not just any loss of funding that sounds the alarm, it's the unwillingness to increase entitlement spending year by year.

4. "Progressives," however, are constantly giving Catholic politicians bad advice. They recently led President Obama into the briar patch of denying religious liberty to Catholic institutions by demanding they pay for contraception and sterilization in their health insurance plans. The argument was that most Catholic women use contraception, therefore, Catholics will accept this historical encroachment on religious liberty. The Vatican has made it clear, most recently under Pope Francis, that Obama is seen as hostile to Catholic values.

It never occurred to any of Obama's religious advisers to consider that the Catholic woman who does use contraception may cringe at the thought of the federal government demanding the Catholic Church pay for her birth control pills! A big distinction here, evidently lost on the Obama administration. Not to mention the fact that Catholic tax dollars are now being spent on abortifacient OTC "day after" pills.

5. Pro-life Catholic politicians will get a warm reception from evangelical voters, but that same politician should remember that Catholic voters, for the most part, do not like to be talked to like evangelical voters. What gets a rousing "Amen" among Baptists can cause Catholics' eyes to roll.

Catholic politicians who adopt an evangelical style will win some Catholic support for their "bold" tone, but much more support will quietly edge away in discomfort. It's not complicated, just follow the first rule of rhetoric: Know your audience!

Catholic politicians should avoid the self righteous, moralizing tone of evangelical leaders, unless their goal is a radio talk show.   The commitment to life and marriage should be made clear while extending that concern to those in society who need the maintenance of the government's "safety net."

These are the essential pieces of practical advice needed by a Catholic entering politics. The past two Congressional elections saw a new generation of pro-life, pro-family Catholics elected: these new members of Congress immediately became the target of "progressives" who, for example, attempted to twist their concern for the budget as "anti-life."  Whether or not they survive will depend on how successfully this freshman class responds to the attack, or, even better, inoculates themselves in advance.

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


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


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

The Immigration Conflagration and the Dangers of a Benevolent Dictator

Image of

By Keith A. Fournier

There is no question that comprehensive immigration reform is needed. Most people acknowledge this as a fact. However, the truth is President Obama could have participated in such reform, and he knows it, by working with the 114th Congress which will soon be sworn ... continue reading


Running out the door, Republicans too busy with Thanksgiving to address laws Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With Thanksgiving turkeys dancing in their heads, many Republican lawmakers are running out the door in lieu of considering a plethora of new legislation. Republican members have discussed resolutions of disapproval and censure. One unnamed lawmaker was ... continue reading


The TOP 10 list of countries where slavery is most prevalent. DO YOU BENEFIT FROM SLAVERY? You might be shocked! Watch

Image of Poor Haitians are commonly enslaved by wealthier family members.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last week it was announced that some 36 million people around the world live in slavery, a number that is higher than at any time in history. While most Americans feel that slavery is a distant problem, which has little or no effect on their lives, the sad fact is that ... continue reading


Raking in the dough: Obamacare 'architect' worth millions Watch

Image of Jonathan Gruber has a lucrative connection with the Department of Health and Human Services.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jonathan Gruber's good fortune would make lots of college students change their majors to economics. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with his firm Gruber Microsimulation Model has raked in millions. Gruber's chief function is estimating the ... continue reading


Why have Republicans betrayed us to the most anti-life president in history? Mark Levin has an idea Watch

Image of Mark Levin is a Constitutional scholar and commentator.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two weeks ago, the American people spoke and sent a message to Obama that we did not approve of his style of leadership. Americans gave control of both the House and Senate to Republicans with a clear mandate to put a stop to the rule of the most anti-life, ... continue reading


Reaping what is sown: No immigration reform hurt Democrats in midterms, former president Clinton says Watch

Image of Speaking in an interview with POLITICO's Mike Allen, Clinton was celebrating the 10-year anniversary weekend of the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A lack of action may have cost President Obama and the Democratic Party big time, former President Bill Clinton says. The Republican victory at midterms earlier this month may have been the result of a lack of action on immigration reform. Clinton says that ... continue reading


'Mook Mafia' said to be heading Hillary Clinton's run for president Watch

Image of Mook is a word used to describe an underling or person with limited intelligence who does as he was told by higher-ups.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As coined in the 1974 Martin Scorsese film, "Mean Streets," "mook" is the term used by Italian Americans used to denote a "loser." In later years, mook became known as a word used to describe an underling or person with limited intelligence who did as he was ... continue reading


United Nations takes United States to task for legalizing marijuana Watch

Image of The United Nations is taking some states in the United States for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use. The U.N. anti-narcotics chief says that these measures are not in concert with international drug conventions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations is taking some states in the United States for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use. The U.N. anti-narcotics chief says that these measures are not in concert with international drug conventions.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Federal health care officials scramble to bring health care Web site up to snuff Watch

Image of Throttling would detect overloads sooner and be more efficient than the one long online line federal officials devised last winter. This led to the dreaded

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the Obama administration is confident that HealthCare.gov is far more adept this time around in time for open enrollment, there are signs that officials are drawing up contingency plans for any eventuality. These plans will hopefully readily address the ... continue reading


California's Willie Brown advises Hillary Clinton not to bother with presidential run - you will Lose Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Serving two terms as the mayor of San Francisco, longtime Democrat and California politician has some sage words of advice for Hillary Clinton when it comes to a presidential run in 2016: Don't bother, as you won't win. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... 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, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46
31 'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 23rd, 2014 Image

Bl. Miguel Pro
November 23: Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin ... 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