If you’ve been following the Republican Presidential Primary, you will notice that faith has played a prominent role in this campaign. And barring Ron Paul from being elected, it will be the first time in a while (ever?) that the Republican Party hasn’t nominated a Protestant. While Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith has been called into question repeatedly, it has forced the Republican Party to come to terms with Catholicism as maybe-not-that-crazy. While I am excited for the embrace of Catholicism, I worry that Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich are misrepresenting the faith of the Church.
I do not wish to call into question their faith lives – I cannot ever know what is in someone’s heart, and I would be wrong to attempt to judge them. But I am concerned over their claims that their faith informs their politics, when in reality, besides the issues of gay marriage and abortion, they often take very different stances than the Church. While it is not a requirement for a Catholic or for a candidate to run solely on their Church’s platform, it should give us pause before choosing a candidate because they are Catholic.
On issues such as climate change, the death penalty, illegal immigration, and even gay rights, Senator Santorum and Newt Gingrich have significantly different opinions than those that the U.S. Church encourages.
Here are the players stances on some significant issues in the 2012 campaign:
Catholic Church: Opposes gay marriage. Source: American Catholic
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I helped author DOMA; if it fails, amend Constitution.” (Jun 2011) Source: Issues 2000
Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.” (Jun 2006) Source: Issues 2000
Catholic Church: Being homosexual is not a choice or a sin, sex outside of marriage is.
On DADT: There isn’t a specific Catholic Church opinion. Cardinal Wuerl Source: WLTX
– “Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care” – To Live in Christ Jesus, 1976 Source: Dignity USA
Speaker Newt Gingrich: Would reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate
– Homosexuality is a choice. Source: Huffington Post
Sen. Santorum: Would Reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate “Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.” (Jun 2002) Source: Issues 2000
– Homosexuality is a choice. Source: CBS News
Catholic Church: Believes evolution is compatible with Christianity. Source: Telegraph
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Both [Evolution and Creationism] can be true. I don’t think there is necessarily a conflict between the two.” Source: New York Magazine
Sen. Santorum: “Expose kids to legitimate debate of evolution & creationism. (Mar 2005)” Source: Issues 2000
Catholic Church: Global warming, he said, “will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk.” – Archbishop Migilore Source: Catholic Online
– “Care for the earth and for the environment is a moral issue. Protecting the land, water, and air we share is a religious duty of stewardship and reflects our responsibility to born and unborn children, who are most vulnerable to environmental assault.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship
Speaker Newt Gingrich: Doubts global warming. Source: Huffington Post
– “Koto treaty is bad for the environment and bad for America.” (Dec 2006) Source: Issues 2000
Sen. Santorum: “There is no such thing as global warming.” Source: Huffington Post
– “Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. (Sep 2005), Rated 0% by the League of Conservationist Voters, indicating anti-environment votes.” (Dec 2003) Source: Issues 2000
Catholic Church: “Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system and should include a temporary work program with worker protections and a path to permanent residency; family reunification policies; a broad and fair legalization program; access to legal protections, including due process and essential public programs; refuge for those fleeing persecution and exploitation; and policies to address the root causes of migration.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I voted for Reagan’s legal guest worker program.” (Sep 2011), Sue the federal government for every cent spent on illegals. (Nov 2011) Source: Issues 2000
Sen. Santorum: “Voted NO on establishing a Guest Worker program, giving guest workers citizenship.” (May 2006) Source: Issues 2000
– “Catholic bishops working for immigration reform are wrong to do so.” Source: Christian Post
Catholic Church: “The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty in nearly all cases, and Pope John Paul II often speaks out against capital punishment” Source: American Catholic
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (April 1994)” Source: Issues 2000
Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996), Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (Apr 1994)” Source: Issues 2000
Catholic Church: Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Source: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citzenship
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Repeal ObamaCare; sign tort reform instead. (Feb 2011)” Source: Issues 2000
Sen. Santorum: “ Liberal states won’t waive ObamaCare; we must repeal it. (Oct 2011)” Sources: Issues 2000
WAR IN IRAQ
The Roman Catholic Church, led by Pope John Paul II, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Source: American Catholic
Speaker Newt Gingrich:
“Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.” Source: Washington Post
– “Goal was to liberate Iraq from Saddam, not to occupy.” (Dec 2007) Source: Issues 2000Sen. Santorum: “
Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002), Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006)” Source: Issues 2000
While not all of the politicians’ stances are directly opposed to the Church’s, they are nonetheless concerning in many areas. Additionally, these are only issues where the Church has taken a direct opinion on. Others which are more unique to the United States, such as food stamps, there are not specific statements, however we know the Church has a record of favoring the poor, encouraging the rich to contribute to a better society, and protecting the least amongst us. Additionally, the Church believes that all we do must be done in love. Vitriolic lashing out and favoring donors over citizens is not in the spirit of Christianity.
There are many reasons to vote for a candidate and not to vote for them. The Catholic Church does not require it’s faithful to follow these positions, we are free to vote as we see morally fit. But let us let our faith inform our politics, not let our party dictate how we express our faith.
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