It’s been years since the Catholic Church has been a relevant player in American politics. Suddenly, its views on contraception and other issues are something that people care about.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that two of the remaining four GOP primary candidates are Catholics. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is a long-time member of the Church, while Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is a recent convert (read: dabbles in Catholicism).
It is worth noting that Rick Santorum has lost the Catholic vote in many of the states he has contested this year. Which raises interesting questions…
How much do Catholic voters, a key constituency in the November election, listen to their religious leaders? If so… who should they vote for?
Thankfully, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops produces a great deal of literature on the matter that basically no one reads. But we did.
We have noted the social teachings of the Church can be broken down in to several main parts. Over the next few days we will look at the Bishops’ recommendations and see how they might fit into the presidential landscape.
The first category:
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“In a world characterized by growing prosperity for some and pervasive poverty for others, Catholic teaching proclaims that a basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.”
Pretty straightforward: our economic policies should be arranged for the benefit of the least well off. Sounds quite progressive.
At least one of the GOP candidates is “not concerned about the very poor”––but really, who are we kidding?
In a campaign season where discussions about the poor often ends in accusations of “Class warfare” it seems the story of the Last Judgement is last on most candidates reading list.
So how would you score this teaching from the Bishops? Republican or Democrat?