Saturday, August 30, 2008


August 30, 2008

For Ex-G.O.P. Official, Obama Is Candidate of Catholic Values


When Douglas W. Kmiec endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president last spring, it made waves, especially among Roman Catholics.

A constitutional scholar who headed the Office of Legal Counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Mr. Kmiec was well known as an articulate opponent of abortion.

He explains his current stance in “Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama,” which will be published in two weeks by Overlook Press. But reached this week in Denver, Mr. Kmiec agreed to give necessarily brief replies to questions sent by e-mail.

Q. What is your position on the morality of abortion, and how is it related to your religious faith?

A. I fully accept the teaching of the church that participating in an abortion is an intrinsic evil. My acceptance of abortion as a grave, categorical wrong is one part respectful deference to authoritative Catholic teaching and one part reasoned deduction from our scientific knowledge of genetics and the beginning of an individual life.

Q. Would you like to see Roe v. Wade overturned?

A. Yes, but not on the terms usually suggested by Republicans. Roe is mistaken constitutional law not just because it invalidated state laws on the subject but because it is contrary to what is described as a self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence, namely, that we have an unalienable right to life from our creator. It may surprise the general citizenry that not a single sitting justice utilizes the declaration as a source of interpretative guidance.

But even employing the jurisprudential methods applied by the modern court, there is no satisfactory showing that abortion as a matter of custom and tradition was properly found to be an implied aspect of the liberties protected by the 14th Amendment.

Q. Given those views, why do you support Barack Obama?

A. There is a widespread misconception that overturning Roe is the only way to be pro-life. In fact, overturning Roe simply returns the matter to the states, which in their individual legislative determinations could then be entirely pro-abortion. I doubt that many of our non-legally-trained pro-life friends fully grasp the limited effect of overturning Roe.

Secondly, pundits like to toss about the notion that the future of Roe depends on one vote, the mythical fifth vote to overturn the decision. There are serious problems with this assumption: first, Republicans have failed to achieve reversal in the five previous times they asked the court for it; and second, it is far from certain that only one additional vote is needed to reverse the decision in light of the principles of stare decisis by which a decided case ought not to be disturbed. Only Justices Thomas and Scalia have written and joined dissenting opinions suggesting the appropriateness of overturning Roe.

So given those views, the better question is how could a Catholic not support Barack Obama?
Senator Obama’s articulated concerns with the payment of a living wage, access to health care, stabilizing the market for shelter, special attention to the needs of the disadvantaged and the importance of community are all part of the church’s social justice mission.

Applying this to the issue of abortion, the senator has repeatedly indicated that he is not pro-abortion, that he understands the serious moral question it presents, and, most significantly, that he wants to move us beyond the 35 years of acrimony that have done next to nothing to reduce the unwanted pregnancies that give rise to abortions.

Q. But all the same, isn’t your support at odds with Catholic teaching?

A. Quite the contrary. Senator Obama is articulating policies that permit faithful Catholics to follow the church’s admonition that we continue to explore ways to give greater protection to human life.

Consider the choices: A Catholic can either continue on the failed and uncertain path of seeking to overturn Roe, which would result in the individual states doing their own thing, not necessarily, or in most states even likely, protective of the unborn. Or Senator Obama’s approach could be followed, whereby prenatal and income support, paid maternity leave and greater access to adoption would be relied upon to reduce the incidence of abortion.
It is, of course, not enough for a Catholic legislator to declare himself or herself pro-choice and just leave it at that, but neither Senator Obama, who is not Catholic except by sensibility, nor Joe Biden, who is a lifelong Catholic, leaves matters in that unreflective way.

In my view, Obama and Biden seek to fulfill the call by Pope John Paul II, in the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” to “ensure proper support for families and motherhood.” It cannot possibly contravene Catholic doctrine to improve the respect for life by paying better attention to the social and economic conditions of women which correlate strongly with the number of abortions.
Q. You have been fiercely attacked by some Catholic abortion opponents and in one instance barred from receiving communion. How do you feel about that?

A. To be the subject of an angry homily at Mass last April 18 and excoriated as giving scandal for endorsing Senator Obama and then to be denied communion for that “offense” was the most humiliating experience in my faith life.

To be separated in that public manner from the receipt of the eucharist, and to be effectively shunned or separated from the body of Christ in the sense of that particular congregation, has left, I very much regret to say, a permanent spiritual scar. Thankfully, it has also given me a new appreciation for the significance of the sacrament in my daily worship. And the priest, having been called to order by Cardinal Roger Mahony, sent me an apology, which of course I have accepted.

Nonetheless, I remain deeply troubled that other church leaders not fall into similar traps. That would do untold damage to the church within the context of American democracy.

There are clearly partisan forces that want nothing more than to manufacture or stir up faith-based opposition to their political opponents. The church has been careful to underscore that Catholics have unfettered latitude to vote for any candidate so long as the intent of the Catholic voter is not to express approval of a grave evil.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Author Attacks Obama and the Pope.


Convention news delayed a post on an important matter. Many have probably already dismissed the silly and lie-filled book entitled 'Obama Nation' and written by a man named Jerome Corsi.

Mr. Burnett from 'Catholics for Democracy' reminds us that Corsi's two claims to fame were smearing John Kerry during the '04 race (the swiftboater book, "Unfit for Command") and smearing the Catholic Church (pedophilia "is OK with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press.").

In 2004, The Associated Press verified that Corsi described Islam as a religion in which the "boys are buggered and the infidels are killed," and called Pope John Paul II "senile."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democrats Don't Shy Away from Need to Reach Out to People of Faith

People of faith challenge Democrats

By ERIC GORSKI, AP Religion Writer

Religious leaders and people of faith who've been invited to the table at this week's Democratic National Convention are not sitting quietly with their hands in their laps.

The head of a large African-American denomination challenged the party on abortion. An Orthodox Jewish rabbi raised his voice about school choice. A thirty-something evangelical Christian author warned against Democrats who mock believers.

Although well aware that party officials have political reasons for reaching out to them, several faith figures taking part in convention events say they want to go beyond talk about how faith and values inform longstanding Democratic policies. They are also calling for change on core Democratic issues, which could create tension.

"It's important that people of faith are being listened to just like other constituencies, that we're not marginalized," said Alexia Kelley of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which has pressed the party to support policies aimed at reducing abortion rates. "Just because we're participating in the process and engaging people who may not agree with us doesn't mean we're just a mascot."

Religion has played a visible role at the convention, starting with an interfaith service and continuing Tuesday with the party's first caucus meetings for people of faith.

Beneath "Pro-Family Pro-Obama" placards, a range of faith leaders — and Joshua DuBois, Barack Obama's religious affairs director — framed poverty, climate change, human rights and abortion as not just policy causes but moral ones.

"Let's be honest: Religion has been used and abused by politics," said Jim Wallis, an evangelical and editor of Sojourners magazine. People of faith, he said, "should speak prophetically more than in a partisan way." Wallis is not endorsing a candidate and will also appear on a panel in St. Paul, Minn., next week during the Republican convention.

Wallis said religious voices lobbying Democrats have gotten results, including language in the platform that aspires to reduce poverty rates by half in the next decade. Religious groups also had a hand in crafting platform language that pledges to support women who decide against having abortions; that was possible in part because the platform also strengthened wording supporting "a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion."

One tenet of the Obama campaign's religious outreach is connecting to religious communities beyond the usual liberal-leaning constituencies that support Democrats — and that's where some of the challenges have come from.

Donald Miller, a 37-year-old author from Portland, Ore., is little known to most voters but revered among many young evangelicals for his best-selling spiritual memoir "Blue Like Jazz."
Miller was a loyal Republican but said he left the party, in large part, because he thought Republicans pandered to evangelicals on abortion and gay marriage to win votes without accomplishing much.

Democrats are "reaching out to us, and I'm not naive as to why — they want our votes," said Miller, who gave a two-minute prayer to close Monday's convention session. "But they won't get them and keep them unless they continue the momentum of adopting policies that promote the sanctity of life."

Miller cited progress along those lines — including on abortion. His other priorities — poverty, global warming — also reflect a widening evangelical agenda that might benefit Democrats, if not in large numbers in November then in future elections. Miller also said he'd leave the party if some Democrats keep mocking people of faith.

"I'd like to see Obama address that — say that voice is no longer welcome," he said.
Others invited to take part in the convention — including Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America — make clear their participation isn't an endorsement.

Even so, it's significant Weinreb was invited to deliver a keynote address at the interfaith service. He sides with Republicans — and apart from most Jewish leaders — in support of government assistance, such as tax credits, for parents who want to put their children in private schools.

Weinreb did not pass up an opportunity to speak at the service "for freedom of choice in education" — and he later credited Democratic officials for putting no restrictions on what speakers could say.

That freedom also was evident when Bishop Charles Blake, head of the 6 million-member Church of God in Christ, spoke of "disregard for the lives of the unborn." Blake, who called himself a pro-life Democrat, challenged Obama to adopt policies to reduce abortions and chided Republicans for not caring about "those who have been born."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Biden Pulling in Catholic Votes for Obama

When Joe Biden was named as Senator Obama's pick for Vice-President there was hope, but no assurance, that he would bring in Catholic votes. It now seems that Biden is effective at that goal, as well as bringing in blue collar voters. It is possible that recent movement towards Obama by Catholic and blue collar voters is due to other factors, such as Hillary Clinton supporters moving towards Obama. But Biden, an Irish-American Catholic from Scranton, PA, has been well received in the state of his birth. Obama had been polling a small but consistent lead in that state. With Biden on the ticket, even many Republican strategists admit that its 21 electoral votes will go to Obama. The only remaining question is will Obama-Biden have to fight in Pennsylvania up to election day, or will they be able to re-direct resources elsewhere.

Professor Michael Lindsay of Rice University in Houston told Reuters "If we just focus on the religious element, adding Biden to the Democratic ticket was an extremely smart move. Biden has ties in a very important swing state, Pennsylvania, where Catholics are the biggest constituency whose votes are up for grabs."

McCain has done very little to reach out to Catholic voters. He has strong support among white Republican Catholic political operatives like Deal Hudson and Bill Donohue, but their reach is limited to white Catholics who are already strong conservatives (some of their supporters would disagree with that, but only because they insist that people who disagree with their politics "are not Catholic."). Rounding up the votes of these hard conservative white Catholics is not a tough task. Tending towards the affluent, they usually don't have the work and family problems lower income Catholics do in getting to the polls. Strongly pro-life but opposed to most every other public policy issue the bishops have taken a stance on, the greatest worry is that they might vote for a right wing third party.

Obama has a counterbalancing element of support among liberal, Hispanic and African-American Catholics. Left up for grabs are moderate Catholics, particularly those who are pro-life and supportive of the Church's peace and social justice initiatives. The absence of any outreach to this element by McCain or conservative Catholics has given Obama an opening. Biden more moderate stand on abortion -- supporting social support for women in crisis pregnancies in the first trimester and legal restrictions on abortion in the late term -- appeals to these conflicted Catholics.

Biden is already pulling in previously undecided Catholic support in Ohio and Michigan. Ohio, with 20 electoral votes is expected to be very close. While in Michigan the UAW will be working for the Obama-Biden ticket, the Bush White House is heavily pressuring McCain to pick Romney has his Vice-Presidential candidate. Romney, son of a Michigan governor, could offset Michigan Catholic votes Biden brings on.

White Catholics in St. Louis and Denver have shown a slight movement towards the Democrats from 4 years ago (even though -- or maybe because of -- the hard line Republican archbishops in these cities). The only Hispanics on the National McCain Catholic Advisory Committee are Cuban-Americans from Florida. Hispanics are a majority of Catholics in three western swing states (CO, NM, and NV) and strongly inclined towards Obama-Biden.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Senator Bob Casey will be speaking at the Democratic Convention tonight. His scheduled start time is 7:00 pm Mountain and 9:00 pm Eastern, but sometimes the speeches start a little late.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So Many He Can't Remember The All

Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20)
John McCain said "I think — I'll have my staff get to you. It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Catholics for Obama - Biden!

Joe Biden May be USA's First Catholic Vice President.

Some of the comments on the selection:

AP reports -- When Joe Biden underwent brain surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm in 1988, he asked doctors whether he could tuck his rosary beads under his pillow. Barack Obama's running mate is the son of working-class Irish Catholics, a career politician educated at a Catholic prep school who briefly considered the priesthood.

He has turned to his faith to weather personal tragedy — including the deaths of his wife and young daughter in a 1972 traffic accident — and shape his political worldview. Biden attends Mass weekly and didn't miss it on Sunday, either, attending services and taking Communion at St. Joseph on the Brandywine near his home in Greenville, Del.

Catholics United praised Biden's advocacy on issues such as genocide, universal health care and education

Chicago Sum Times: For those who have bought in to the smears of Obama being an elitist and that’s that, Biden’s Catholic working-class roots might cause them to reconsider.

Michigan Political analyist Craig Ruff: "He is Roman Catholic and there could be some number of Michigan Catholic voters who would vote the Obama ticket because of his running mate."

Reuters-- Biden, originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, will bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket — he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — but strong working-class roots and his Catholic faith.Catholics had strongly supported Hillary Clinton in her failed bid for the Democratic nomination and a number of polls have shown a fairly close race among Catholics with Obama leading nationally by a small margin. Conservative Catholics tend to line up with evangelicals on issues like abortion but there are also many liberal Catholics in America who like the Democratic Party on economic issues.

Monsignor William Kerr -- "Joe Biden is one of the most sincere Catholics I've known in my 40 years as a priest."

Dr. Patrick Whelan -- "Joe Biden has lived out the tenets of his Catholic faith throughout his career -- speaking out tirelessly on behalf of the poor and the exploited, encouraging peace and reconstruction in the most despairing corners of the world, and promoting personal responsibility here in the US. He is a public servant who truly believes in the common good."

From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life -- Biden and his wife, Jill, attend St. Patrick Church, part of the Diocese of Wilmington; he nominated St. Patrick's former priest, the Rev. James Trainor, to serve as a guest chaplain in the Senate in 2001. Biden had an hour-long private audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1980 on the subject of Poland's position in the former Communist bloc. Biden met Pope John Paul II three more times. He attended the pope's 2005 funeral and told The News Journal that the presence of religious leaders from other traditions made the event "much more meaningful." When the Diocese of Wilmington's bishop, Michael Saltarelli, came under pressure in 2004 and 2005 to deny communion to Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, the bishop refused.
Randall Terry -- "Obama jumped into political and religious quicksand by picking Biden; Catholic Bishops and voters will determine whether the Obama/Biden ticket sinks into political oblivion. "

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Catholic Nun to Offer Prayer at Convention

Cleveland nun to offer prayer at Democratic National Convention

by Sabrina Eaton August 18, 2008

WASHINGTON -- An 86-year-old nun from Cleveland who works for a Catholic anti-poverty lobbying group has been selected to deliver the closing prayers one night during the Democratic National Convention.

"I think you have a different perspective when you've lived some history," says Catherine Pinkerton, a member of the Cleveland-based religious order Congregation of St. Joseph who once served as principal of the West Side secondary school it founded, St. Joseph Academy.
Pinkerton says that she has never been an activist for either political party but that she admires Barack Obama's "vision of where we stand as a nation and where we stand among nations" and agreed to deliver the benediction at the request of his campaign.

Obama's campaign invited a diverse group of religious leaders to offer prayers at the convention and asked Pinkerton to be among them because she's "an icon among Catholics who has really been an inspiration to women everywhere," said spokesman Tom Reynolds.

"For decades, she has been a national leader and a champion for working families," Reynolds said. "Catholics across Ohio should be proud to have one of their own taking center stage at this historic event."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

May Light Eternal Shine Upon Her

From the grave, campaigning for Obama

By Yael T. Abouhalkah,
Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist

Phyllis Harris of Kansas City died Saturday. But she still's campaigning for Barack Obama to become the next president.

In Monday's Kansas City Star, the obituary for Harris said she was "a life-long lover of words and music." She was a physical therapist for much of her life, "deeply concerned with issues of social inequality and justice."

Then the obituary ends this way:

"While Phyllis adored her garden, we are certain that she would prefer, in lieu of flowers, donations be made" to Kansas City Hospice, St. Vincent DePaul Society or Catholic Charites "and that you cast your vote for Obama."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It's official. Senator Bob Casey will address the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, August 26th. Accordinf to ABC News, "The decision to give Sen. Casey a featured speaking spot is part of a broader effort on the part of the Democrats to broaden the party's appeal on abortion. "

ANC also noted the changes in the Platform which offered some modest outreach to pro-life voters. ABC reports that: Democrats consulted with the Rev. Jim Wallis and others on how to include language in the platform which would signal the party's commitment to reducing the incidence of abortion.

The Democratic platform adopted this past Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pa., pledges pre- and post-natal health care, income support, and adoption programs to support those women who make the decision to have a child.

"The language in the platform is a real step forward," said Wallis on a Tuesday conference call with reporters. "For those women who want to take the child to term, it strongly supports that choice, and provides necessary support."

The Democratic platform was also praised on Tuesday's call by Pepperdine Law Prof. Douglas Kmiec. Kmiec, an Obama supporter who served as constitutional legal counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush , called the platform an "historic moment that does a lot for Democrats, Catholics, and women."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Pope Speaks

"The Church does not tell people how to vote. Nor does it endorse any political party. There is often room for legitimate differences of opinion because it can be difficult to judge which policies – and especially which packages of policies – will contribute best to making “human life more human”

--- Pope John Paul II

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Second Presidential Candidate Found Guilty of Adultery



Democrats can’t be pleased with John Edwards’ confession that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter. It tarnishes the Democratic brand just as they’re gearing up for their quadrennial coming-out party, and the only thing more conspicuous than Edwards’ presence will be his absence. And Edwards could have a Mark Foley-like trickle-down effect in down-ballot races, where negative/positive party associations matter most.

But the news is not all bad for Democrats. First, Obama is pretty much soaked in Teflon when it comes to family matters. Second, it could be a lot worse: What if Edwards had actually won the nomination? And third, it introduces marital infidelity back into the conversation.

Recall, John McCain returned to the United States from Vietnam in March 1973. His wife, Carol, had been in a near-fatal car accident while he was gone. She was overweight, on crutches, and 4 inches shorter than when McCain had left. McCain ended up divorcing Carol for Cindy Hensley, his current wife. Carol has remained mostly silent on her marriage to John, except for one notable comment to a McCain biographer: “John was turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again.”
There were legal complications, too. The Los Angeles Times reported in June that McCain obtained a marriage license while still legally married to his first wife. McCain suggested in his autobiography that he divorced Carol months before marrying Cindy. In fact, that period was about five weeks. He also said that for the first nine months of his relationship with Cindy, he still “cohabited” with Carol. Social conservatives were never McCain’s base, but yes, it could get worse. (more)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Casey Considered as Convention Speaker

Senator Barack Obama is considering inviting Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey to speak at the Democratic National Convention later this month. This would be a welcome statement of inclusion those voters, Catholic and not, who support a consistent ethic of life. The Republican Party has no announced plans to allow a convention speaker in support of a consistent ethic of life. Both Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean and Catholic scholar Douglas Kmiec are encouraging a Casey speaking slot.
A speaking slot for Casey would respond to the failure to allow his father to speak at the 1992 DNConvention. That decision offended many Catholic Democrats. It has also been reference politically by some conservative Republicans who never had a single kind word to say about Casey, Sr. during his life.

Even Leonard Leo, who directed Catholic outreach for Republicans in 2004, and is an informal adviser to the party and the McCain campaign admitted that the appearance of Senator Casey on the dais at the Democratic convention would be favorably received by Catholics. “He might get a slight bump from Casey among Catholics generally" Leo said.

Leo also hinted at what many other political observers have noted, that the McCain campaign seems focused almost exclusively on mobilizing white conservative Catholics while ignoring the wide group of Catholics who feel "politically homeless", neither able to fully embrace the dominant positions of the Republican or Democratic parties. The Obama campaign, however, has reached out to these voters, often called "Common Good Catholics."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Petition to McCain to Take Down Blasphemous Ad

Many Christians are upset at an ad the McCain campaign has been circulating that they find to be blasphemy. The ad, called "The One" has been circulated by the McCain campaign on the web but has not been broadcast commercially. Most television stations do not accept ads they deem blasphemous.

The Matthew 25 Network, a non-partisan organization of people of faith concerned about public affairs, has launched a petition to John McCain asking him to see that the ad is taken down. if you would like to sign the petition or learn more about this effort, the link is here:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Father Ray Schroth, SJ, has written about some of the issues in this year's election regarding the Catholic vote, including the swing back to the Democratic Party this year by many Catholics, the relief of many progressive and pastorally oriented Catholics at Raymond Burke's transfer to a bureaucratic job in the Vatican in advance of the election season and the need for a public voice for social, economic and emotional aid to women in crisis pregnancies - something pro-life Republicans have been AWOL about.

Father also writes about the great enthusiasm shown for Senator Obama when he spoke at St. Peter's College.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


David Kuo for Obama?

David Kuo, the former Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has not made any public endorsement but has offered support to Senator Obama's presidential race by making a $250 campaign contribution. Kuo is a devout Christian who authored the book Tempting Faith, a political and spiritual memoir of his time in Washington working with the so-called "religious right". In the book, he documents that President Bush's "compassionate conservative" promises were never fulfilled and used for primarily political purposes — a claim that was echoed by the first Director of the Office, Catholic scholar John DiIulio. Kuo also claimed that the Bush administration used Christian voters while simultaneously ridiculing Christian political leaders.

David is a long time Republican Activist and remains an important voice in the Evangelical community. For the last several years David has been battling cancer. For a long time it looked like he was not going to make it, but reports are that things are looking better.

Please remember him in your prayers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

McCains Meet with Conservative Bishop

Republican candidate John McCain and his second wife, Cindy, met yesterday with conservative prelate Charles Chaput in Denver. With the Vatican removing one of the most partisan Republican bishops from the American scene in advance of the election season, former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, who was "kicked upstairs" to a non-pastoral role in the Vatican bureaucracy, Chaput now becomes the favored bishop for conservative Republicans. As Father Thomas Reese put it--Chaput is even more prominent, but also maybe more isolated within the U.S. hierarchy, a large majority of which does not agree with Chaput's approach--just as he has made it clear he disagrees with his brother bishops.

The reporter David Gibson noted that McCain has refused to ask for a meeting with Catholic leaders like Washington Archbishop Donald Wurel, who disagrees with Chaput's approach. That suggests that McCain is more interested in shoring up support from hard line conservative Catholics. The campaign seems not to be contesting a broad element of "common good" Catholics, that are neither strong liberals or conservatives. These Catholics concerned about both the unborn and poor, peace in the world and good marriages in the home, have frequently said they feel politically abandoned by both parties. Neither McCain nor Obama have outlined a platform embracing the totality of their concerns, but is McCain making a mistake by not even reaching out for their support while the Obama campaign does? New polling in Pennsylvania shows that Obama has made good progress in increasing his Catholic support and despite Chaput, Colorado Catholics are particularly supportive of Obama. But, while these are both important swing states, the election is a long way off.