Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Obama Catholic Coalition Meets in D.C.

By: Deal W. Hudson & Matt Smith

In the wake of the 2004 defeat of John Kerry, leftwing Catholics, aligned with the Democratic Party, got down to serious work. The result was a coalition of organizations, publications, writers, academics, and activists that helped convince a majority of self-identified Catholic voters to vote for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history, Barack Obama.

That same coalition met late last week at a Washington Briefing hosted by the National Catholic Reporter. Coming on the heels of their victory in passing the abortion-funded health care bill, the standing ovation given to Sr. Carol Keehan comes as no surprise.  The recipient of personal attention from the President, Keehan used her Catholic Health Association, a trade association of Catholic hospitals, to pronounce the health care legislation acceptable for Catholics. Her role was aptly rewarded when she was given one of the pens used by President Obama to sign the pro-abortion health care law.

Prior to the election, the media accurately reported that Sr. Keehan’s support of the health care bill was in opposition to that of the Catholic bishops. The bishops explained repeatedly they would not support a bill containing federal funding for abortion. Sr. Keehan refused to admit the presence of the funding along with her other differences with the bishops. Indeed, at the briefing she reiterated that she was in agreement with the bishops on the bill and on the non-presence of abortion funding.

Other leaders of the health care revolt against the bishops spoke at the briefing, including Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, who organized the religious order letter supporting the health care bill praised by Nancy Pelosi; Morna Murray, President of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Patrick Whelan, President of Catholic Democrats; and Speaker Pelosi herself who was there to rally her Catholic troops to help deliver on immigration.

It’s no surprise that Trinity University in D.C., a private, all girls, progressive Catholic University would host a forum of this nature with the liberal and Democrat-aligned National Catholic Reporter. It’s the alma mater of Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius, both of whom are featured prominently on the Trinity University website.

When Pelosi was first elected Speaker a special Mass was celebrated at Trinity with Rev. Robert Drinan, S. J. as homilist.  There could have been no more appropriate choice to honor Speaker Pelosi, since Father Drinan was the central figure in the creation of the pro-abortion Catholic politician.  That creation now outnumbers pro-life Catholics among members of Congress.

The issue of dissent by Catholic politicians, over abortion and marriage, has become increasingly contentious in recent elections.  Republican Catholic Outreach was successful in 2000 and 2004 in securing support for the pro-life GOP candidates over the pro-abortion candidates put forward by the Democrats.  The 2008 Catholic effort for McCain-Palin failed to take advantage of the momentum of previous presidential campaigns and the present RNC has done next to nothing to rebuild the effort.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele, himself a Catholic, did find the time, however, to appear at the Washington Briefing to make some remarks.  That was probably a wise choice because it brought him face to face with the coalition that must be beaten for a pro-life candidate to take back the White House in 2012.  The leadership of this Catholic Left coalition supports, helps elect, and provides cover for elected Catholic officials who routinely dissent from Church teaching.  In short, the priorities of the Democratic Party are put ahead of the Church.

Considering ourselves to be Catholic first, Republican second, we have both worked successfully on behalf of the Republican Party and candidates to reach out to Catholics. We are regularly attacked by progressive Catholics for our involvement in politics and for engaging Catholics and Catholic politicians who seek to compromise on non-negotiable teachings of the Church for the sake of social justice arguments. We shake our heads at the charge of being GOP shills against Catholics who uphold the Church’s teaching on abortion.

RNC Chairman Steele spoke to the Catholic Left coalition about his faith.  But, the leadership in this coalition has no interest in changing its mind on abortion and related issues – the Church’s message on life has been explained to them by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Cardinal George, Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal Rigali, and Archbishop Dolan, among many others.  When the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic Health Association, and the Catholic Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious endorsed the health care bill they knew exactly what they were doing.

GOP leadership would be well-advised to stop speaking to deaf ears and study how these groups and their leadership spearheaded the Catholic effort for Obama in 2008. Their effort on Obama’s behalf in 2010 promises to be even bigger and better funded.  GOP indifference to this effort is just another instance of what fuels the tea party phenomena and why a similar attitude is spreading among faithful Catholics.

We at Catholic Advocate are educating grassroots Catholics about the importance of keeping their eyes not only on who gets elected but those groups and individuals who feed and protect them in office.  We are telling Catholic voters to make both parties earn their votes, or they will be taken for granted.

Part of the overarching problem is with the Church itself. As we are seeing in the aftermath of the health care debate, there are no consequences within the Church for groups that actively work among Catholics to promote abortion. Sr. Keehan and Speaker Pelosi, like most Catholics, are not used to being held accountable.  Lay Catholics, however, may well use their votes this coming November, and in 2012 to do what the bishops are so reluctant to do.

Cardinal Mahony's May Day

5-4-10 Posted by admin in Blog, Featured Articles, Gallery, Recent Articles 3 Comments

By: Anne Hendershott

In his continuing quest to bring attention to himself, Cardinal Mahony was one of the most vocal protestors of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law at the May Day Rally in Los Angeles.  Chanting with protestors from atop a flatbed truck at the start of the rally, Cardinal Mahony was described by the Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/01/local/la-me-0502-mahony-20100502 as being “enlivened by the throngs of adoring supporters who kissed his hand and asked to be blessed.”

Cardinal Mahony has become a hero in the Latino community.  Claiming that Arizona was becoming like “Nazi Germany,” the Cardinal spent the past week criticizing policymakers who passed a law which would target those with “brown skin, black hair and listen to ranchera music.”

Indeed, in a series of statements that made many Catholics cringe, the Cardinal was described by a Los Angeles Times reporter as saying that the Arizona legislation has a positive side because it is “an important part of moving on.”  The Times reporter claimed that the Cardinal was referring to the fact that the immigration issue “gives the Catholic Church a welcome break from criticism of its handling of sexual abuse allegations against priests.”

Now Cardinal Mahony has a new website called FacesofImmigrants.org which calls on Catholics to refuse to be “side-tracked by heated rhetoric and political posturing.”  Perhaps he should take some of that advice himself.  Comparing Arizona to Nazi Germany might qualify as “heated rhetoric.”  Still, the Cardinal makes some good points on the website where he provides the actual stories of the immigrants themselves.

The stories of struggling families—fearful of deportation and separation from loved ones—are poignant.  As Catholics, we have to listen to these stories.  Immigration is not just about the violent drug smugglers and the lawlessness at the border.  Having lived for more than 15 years in San Diego, I agree with Cardinal Mahony that we need to “take the time to open our minds and hearts to hear the actual stories of the immigrants themselves.”

There are many hard-working immigrants who came here to find better lives for themselves.  These hard-working, taxpaying immigrants deserve our attention and our help in bringing them out of the shadows.  There really can be a middle ground between Cardinal Mahony and Republican lawmaker, Tom Tancredo, who in 2006 said he would like to “shut off all immigration.”

But, we first need to secure the borders.  The Arizona legislation is what happens when the federal government fails to act.  The citizens of Arizona have gotten to the point where they believe they needed to take matters into their own hands.  Most of us cannot blame them—they are protecting their families, their farms, and their economy.  The Arizona legislation is a start because it may help move federal immigration reform.  And, it is not helpful for Cardinal Mahony to compare them to Nazis.

Anne Hendershott is chair of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program at The King’s College in New York City, and the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education(Transaction).