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Catholic essayists spar on support for Obama

October 22, 2008

Two lay Catholics offer radically different perspectives on the appeal of the Obama presidential candidacy in essays published in leading weekly news magazines. In Time, Amy Sullivan points to Obama's appearance at the Al Smith dinner as "just one sign that this may be the Democrats' best year for Catholic support in decades." Conceding that the abortion issue causes problems for the Obama campaign in its efforts to attract Catholics, she suggested that " American Catholics are going through a revival of the arguments that took place in the 1980s between bishops who believed abortion ought to be the top political and moral focus of the church and the camp led by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin that argued for a more 'consistent ethic of life.'" In Newsweek, papal biographer George Weigel counters that some Catholic intellectuals are deluding themselves if they think that Obama's stand on abortion is neutral. "Do Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec imagine that they have a better grasp of Senator Obama's views on the life issues than, say, the National Reproductive Rights Action League [NARAL], or other pro-choice Obama supporters?" he asks rhetorically. Weigel concludes: "Is John McCain…a perfect pro-life candidate? Of course not. But Barack Obama is a perfect pro-life nightmare."


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