Many observers view the Catholic “bloc” as the key swing vote in the upcoming election. After all, there are an estimated 47 million Catholic voters, and perhaps 120 million votes will be cast on November 4th. The problem is, of course, that there is no monolithic Catholic vote, as we will explore further…
No doubt, if all people who called themselves “Catholic” actually did adhere to the teachings of the Church by putting them into practice in their daily lives, a Catholic bloc might exist. Right now, though, there are many factions.
First of all, there are millions who call themselves “Catholic,” simply because they may have been raised in a nominally Catholic family. Some of this group never actually go to Mass, or may appear once or twice a year. They were probably baptized Catholic, and will likely have Catholic funerals. Surveys have probably been done on what these people believe—doctrine by doctrine—but it is doubtful that Catholic theology would affect their voting behavior.
Then, there are the “social justice” Catholics, who seems to hide behind their religious identity as a way to promote socialism—or worse. While the Church has a grand tradition of helping those less fortunate, the main focus of this has always been on the individual, and not government. Indeed, the Church has more often found itself at odds with civil authorities on issues of social justice.
Still, it was this social justice movement that drew Catholics to the Democrats, even if it was the abortion issue that began to drive them away. There is no such thing as a pro-choice Catholic, anymore than there can be a Jewish Nazi, or a circumnavigating sailor who belongs to the Flat Earth Society. The fact that such persons may self-identify as such is irrelevant. Any group has fundamental precepts, and to violate them means that you are not in, or should not be in the group.
Certainly, there are those such as Pepperdine University law professor Douglas Kmiec, who claim to be pro-life, but feel that they must “balance” this with other issues, and therefore support Barack Obama, despite his record as the most pro-abortion member of Congress. Interestingly, Kmiec claims to attend Mass daily.
Let’s clear this up right now. No social justice is possible for a baby that has been aborted, so in that sense, the abortion issue does trump all others. By the same token, while it was tragic that a Supreme Court decision such as Roe could occur, it was not surprising, and it was but one rotten decision in a long string of them, starting in the early 1960s.
Moreover, there is nothing inherently wrong with being a “single-issue voter.” If a particular candidate advocated confiscation of all private firearms, it would not matter what his other positions were, would it? Surely, you can think of many absurd positions that would be sufficient to reject a candidate on that issue alone.
As to Kmiec being a daily communicant, this is certainly an ideal for Catholics, but proves little in itself. I know a goodly number of daily Mass attendees, and many of them do this at least as much for social as for religious reasons. Many daily communicants—out of necessity—are retired, and meet with their friends for breakfast after Mass. Others have created a convenient schedule for themselves, on their way to work, and cherish the quiet time before being thrust into the stress filled office. I have known daily communicants who are shockingly ignorant of Catholic doctrine, and are confusing rigor with true devotion.
Catholics are ashamed to admit that notorious FBI spy Robert Hanssen was a daily communicant.
As to Roe being overturned, it will never happen, and it does not matter. Abortion and the overreaching interpretations of the 14th amendment are so much part of the fabric of America, that it will never go away. All removing Roe would do is put the authority back to the states, where it was in the first place. However, a candidate who so boldly celebrates abortion on demand (Obama) betrays moral bankruptcy; thus, it is no surprise that questions of his character and past associations are met with stonewalling and obfuscation, rather than answers.
Black Catholics, though small in number, are often quite devout, and on a doctrinal basis alone would be inclined against Obama. Hispanic Catholics are by no means monolithic, but tend to be more anti-abortion than many other minorities.
To summarize, Catholics actually following the teaching of the Church cannot vote for Obama. Estimates as to how many fall into this group range from five to 20 percent. As to other Catholics coming into this cohort, no one knows. Wait until November 5th.
For what it’s worth, I’m not terribly thrilled about McCain, either.