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Catholics set the terms for American public debates

October 25, 2010

Joseph Bottum that the voting patterns of Catholics as a group—barely distinguishable from those of their non-Catholic neighbors—raise questions about the existence of a “Catholic vote” that could be a swing factor in American political elections.

Nevertheless, Bottum continues, it is noteworthy that American politicians of all religious backgrounds have adopted the terms made popular by Catholic thinkers:

Sanctity of life, just-war theory, natural law, dignity of the person: It has become the single viable vocabulary these days for expressing moral concepts in a secular space. Call it the John Courtney Murray project, after the Jesuit priest whose essays in the 1950s exercised so much influence on the liberalizing reflections about democracy at the Second Vatican Council.


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  • Posted by: Savonarola - Oct. 26, 2010 9:35 AM ET USA

    It is correct that there is no "Catholic vote." But, as a comment notes, there should be. Impacting the culture, as Catholics are charged to do, is carried out variously, including how we vote and who is encouraged to run for public office. The bishops have failed to teach and are leaderless. Thus, politicians can call themselves Catholic and support abortion with impunity. As Card. McCarrick puts it, "I go with the flow." Abp. Wuerl is afraid to confront Pelosi. That's not leadership.

  • Posted by: impossible - Oct. 25, 2010 7:50 PM ET USA

    I am commenting without having read the article. The "Elephant in the room" is that there definitely should be a Catholic vote. If Catholics had been properly catechized in the last 40-50 years and if Catholic Bishops and Priests, or that estimated 80% of them who vote liberal, had the intellectual honesty to realize and admit that the Democratic Party of old, of their parents, no longer exists, there would have been a vibrant Catholic vote, especially against pro-abortion Catholic politicians

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Oct. 25, 2010 7:39 PM ET USA

    I would like to know how many of those so-called Catholics are weekly Mass attendees, and how those attendees vote. I suspect the numbers might be a bit different, though even among those, many have been so poorly evangelized and catechized in the last two generations, that the numbers still will reflect the general public too closely. Now that the bishops are speaking out more strongly, we can hope to see a truly Catholic voting block arise.