Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/25/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

EXCLUSIVE - America, King of Propaganda: U.S. government spends billions to spew LIES to the American people. And guess what you foolish Americans, Congress made it all perfectly legal without your vote Watch

Image of

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have we won the ground war in Afghanistan? According to the government reports and the media, we sure have. However, this is not what one whistleblower has said, warning as early as 2012 that the American people are being deceived by the government. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'He deserves what he gets:' Latino youths violently protest Donald Trump in Orange County Watch

Image of Trump protestors broke out in a violent riot during his Orange County rally (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thousands attended Donald Trump's Orange County rally - then broke out in violent protest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Trump rally in Costa Mesa's Orange County Amphitheater was overflowing with supporters. There were several supporters who couldn't fit ... continue reading


New White House rules leave religious groups open to government abuse Watch

Image of Religious groups question the government's new regulations (Shutterstock).

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government ... continue reading


Bill De Blasio's ongoing investigation scandal fails to stop him from new fundraising efforts Watch

Image of Mayor Bill de Blasio won't talk - but his staff will (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's closest aides have been issued subpoenas to aid the investigation into his shady fundraising strategies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal surrounding de Blasio's fundraising has made headlines since 2014, when a leaked ... continue reading


Trump delivers first foreign policy speech, and sounds like a president should! (FULL TEXT) Watch

Image of Donald Trump's first full foreign policy speech sounded relatively presidential, and while short of specifics, was still worth listening to.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump delivered his first full speech on foreign policy and he sounded fairly presidential while doing so. Trump is not a politician by trade, but he may make an excellent president thanks to his extensive business acumen. Trump is on the path to the Republican ... continue reading


The olive branch and the barb: Clinton vs. Trump Watch

Image of Trump and Clinton came out on top (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The race for the presidential nominee has been full of surprises as history-making events, claims of foul play, dirty dealings and controversial statements have cropped up in abundance. Candidates have, at times, been caught up in a tight race, but Tuesday's primary ... continue reading


Trump will be president! Real estate mogul outpacing Romney by whopping 25 percent Watch

Image of Mitt Romney was friendly with Trump when he needed a campaign donation.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump is on track to win both the primary and the election, according to the numbers. He is on a better trajectory than Mitt Romney was in 2008. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, while winning her primary, is losing support. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - ... continue reading


Desperate Cruz and Kasich agree to stop competing, will focus on Trump Watch

Image of Cruz and Kasich are teaming up to block Trump, but their chances of success are slim.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to block Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination. The rivals have agreed to divide upcoming primary states, so they can efficiently spend resources attacking Trump instead of each other. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Public Bathrooms: Private and safe facilities or free-for-alls? Watch

Image of Apparently, gender-confused children can use whichever restroom they want - without adult supervision to ensure the safety of either gender within the confines of a bathroom (David Bro/ZUMA).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Men with bad motives or who live dissolute lifestyles have always been potential sexual threats to women - and now women have been pushed further into their corners as "transgender rights" rise to prominence as the newest notion of the sexual revolution. These rights ... continue reading


'We are in a race against time:' 175 nations sign landmark climate accord Watch

Image of World powers finally agree to make a move to fight climate change (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

World leaders have finally realized the destruction they have been allowing the planet to endure - and the ensuing consequences. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A shocking number of 175 global leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters to sign the Paris ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
10 In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 1st, 2016 Image

St. Marculf
May 1: Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at ... Read More