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Hudson & Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 13. Catholic Women Who Are Not 'On the Bus'

By Deal W Hudson and Keith A Fournier
October 24th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Could it be the case that in our Church women understand this power of association, the force of combined effort, better than men? If Joy, Pat, and Betsy represent a pattern of female effort spanning our nation, and we think they do, then the answer to that question is clear.On conference calls, in email blasts, at local rallies and demonstrations, women inevitably outnumber the men.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Everywhere we go during this election season, whatever event we attend, it's women whose presence predominates in the proceedings.  At Archbishop Chaput's lecture in Chester Springs, PA, easily 400 of the 500+ attendees came from the aptly named "fairer sex." On conference calls, in email blasts, at local rallies and demonstrations, women inevitably outnumber the men.

We will pass over the temptation to wax philosophically as to why this is the case in a Church widely considered to denigrate women. However, such female activism easily outnumbers male.  Rather, we are taking this opportunity on Day 13, before the election, to pay tribute to three Catholic women from Pittsburgh.

Joy Allen, Betsy Radcliffe, and Pat Rowlands are new friends, ones we met at a Catholic voter event in the Iron City's downtown.  Joy, as it turned out, is the woman who received national attention for the two subsequent phone calls to her home from the "Obama campaign," playing "the Mormon card."

Yet, none of the three cares a twit about being a celebrity. These are ladies who labor mightily and tirelessly in the trenches, using the Internet, email lists, phone calls, and personal visits to fulfill their obligation of "faithful political participation."

These three ladies were already in the front lines of pro-life, pro-family Catholics, but when they saw the alphabetical Catholic issues guide being distributed by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, their efforts became supercharged.  Joy, Pat, and Betsy are determined that Catholics will have access to information that accomplishes two things: first, a clear distinction between settled and prudential issues, and second, accurate information on where the candidates stand on the settled, non-negotiable issues. 

The following email is being sent to thousands of Catholics in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  We think it's worthy of sharing, because we consider it worthy of emulation.  The ladies from Pittsburgh are including four attachments with the emails that we have included at the bottom with links to those documents. 

Here is what the ladies, calling themselves "catholicsinpittsburgh@gmail.com" write:

Subject: TIME FOR CATHOLICS TO BE CATHOLICS

Hello,

Are you wondering what your role and obligations are as a Catholic in this election?  Should you vote as if you were a Catholic first who happens to be a Democrat or Republican?  Or do you place your party before your faith?  If you are like us, a small group of Catholic women from Southwestern PA, you are likely feeling overwhelmed with the political rhetoric, ads, and negativity.

This weekend, the Pittsburgh Catholics will be publishing the PA Catholic Conference guide.  What is missing is the U.S. Bishops' (USCCB) powerful statement in Faithful Citizenship and the Gospel of Life about our "clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils (settled) which can never be justified"...while noting that other political issues (prudential), though not equal in importance, "require action to pursue justice and promote the common good."  We are, therefore, suggesting that you explore a few additional non-partisan guides by approved Catholic organizations which we believe will provide more clarity.  We have provided the guides as attachments and hyperlinks.

THESE GUIDES:
   - Address the Church teaching regarding the "settled and prudential" issues based on the USCCB's document.   (PA Catholic Network and Let Freedom Ring);

  - Compare the positions of the Presidential Candidates on the issues, with direct statements or legislation by the candidates.  (Priests for Life);

  - Compare the Democratic and Republican Platforms, (Priests for Life);

  - Identify which Federal and PA County candidates are pro-life, based on their records  (LifePac/PCUC).

As the U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote, "every voice matters in the public forum.  Every vote counts.  Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.  We urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest."  (Living the Gospel of Life)

Our prayer is that you will find these resources informative.  If you do, we are asking you to please forward this email today to your circle of Catholic friends and family, either at your school, parish, neighborhood, or social groups.  We apologize to anyone getting multiple copies of this. Please vote on November 6th and urge your friends to do the same. 

God bless you and thank you for your help,

Catholics in Pittsburgh

Joy Allen, Pat Rowlands, and Betsy Radcliffe end their missive with the famous quote attributed to Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Burke never said exactly this, but in his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770) he said the same thing but said it better:

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one -  an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Could it be the case that in our Church women understand this power of association, the force of combined effort, better than men? If Joy, Pat, and Betsy represent a pattern of female effort spanning our nation, and we think they do, then the answer to that question is clear.

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