Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Catholic" Politicians? Not too impressive!

February 25, 2005

Catholic Politicians

J. Peter Nixon

[For the complete article, which I recommend, click here.  Excerpts follow.]


Given that the Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns torture as “contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity,” one might have thought that the Gonzales nomination would have provided Catholics who supported Bush with an opportunity to show their commitment to values that transcend partisan loyalties. If opposition to torture as an instrument of national policy is not a “nonnegotiable” Catholic teaching, it is fair to ask what is. Given the president’s solicitude for the Catholic vote, one wonders what would have happened if Catholics who had supported him had come together to oppose the Gonzales nomination.

But many prominent Catholics apparently had no problem throwing their support behind Gonzales. Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kans.), a favorite of Catholic conservatives and a possible 2008 presidential contender, asked no questions about torture during Gonzales’s nomination hearing. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) voted to confirm Gonzales without expressing a word of concern about his record. Catholic supporters of the war in Iraq, such as Rev. Richard John Neuhaus and George Weigel, were oddly silent about the Gonzales nomination, despite the demonstrable damage that the torture scandals have done to the foreign-policy goals they champion.

Catholic Democrats inclined to rejoice in this line of analysis should be wary of casting the first stone, as they are often no more willing than their Republican counterparts to challenge their own party on issues close to the core of Catholic social teaching. The list of Catholic Democrats with national ambitions who abandoned earlier prolife views is long: Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Mario Cuomo, Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Many of these Democrats have long resorted to boilerplate statements that they are “personally opposed” to abortion. But when they trumpet their prochoice voting records, raise millions from the abortion lobby, declare that Roe v. Wade is “sacred ground,” and oppose even the most minimal protections for the unborn, it is hard not to see their personal opposition as essentially meaningless. Last November’s elections do seem to have initiated a conversation among Democrats about their rigid adherence to abortion rights (see William J. Byron’s “Prolife and Prochoice,” February 11, 2005), but it remains to be seen whether this conversation will lead to anything more than rhetorical repositioning.

[Again, for the whole article, click here.]


Perry, Michael | Permalink

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That's the provocative subheading -- but would the article be worthwhile? So often they're boilerplate condemnations... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 8:10:59 PM