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‘Catholics for Obama’ aims to draw key voting bloc

(RNS) The Obama campaign on Monday (Aug. 13) unveiled its "Catholics for Obama" team for 2012 in an effort to burnish its credentials with a key voting bloc whose leaders have increasingly voiced their opposition to the administration over issues like gay marriage and abortion rights.

The rollout had been months in the making and long expected, given the importance of the Catholic vote -- nearly one quarter of the electorate, concentrated in battleground states.

But it also comes on the heels of Mitt Romney's announcement on Saturday that he was picking Paul Ryan, a Catholic known for budget-cutting ideas that have drawn fire from many Catholic leaders, as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. The various developments could make the debate over Catholic teachings on social justice and the common good an important subtext in the November election.

Obama's 21-member team includes a number of Catholics who are well-known to the public but not always welcome to the hierarchy, such as Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy. Last May, a Catholic college in Massachusetts was told by the local bishop to bar Kennedy from delivering a commencement address.

Also on the committee are politicians like Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who pushed for that state's law legalizing gay marriage.

In addition, there are Catholic scholars and theologians: Sister Jamie Phelps, director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans; Nicholas Cafardi, a canon and civil lawyer who teaches at the Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh; Thomas Groome of Boston College, a theologian and popular writer on the church; and Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America.

“What's distinctive about Catholics and politics is our ancient idea of the common good," Schneck said. "We measure that by how the working class and poorest among us are doing. Government, for us Catholics, is obliged to be caring. It's obliged to serve and to help build the country as whole. President Obama ‘gets’ this at a deep level."

Schneck seemed to be taking aim at Rep. Ryan's conroversial budget plan -- a focus of Democratic efforts since Ryan was named on Saturday -- when he stressed that the GOP ticket "embraces policies that would decimate programs that serve the vulnerable and seniors while giving more tax cuts to the wealthy."

The announcement of course made no mention of the controversial birth control mandate for health insurers that has focused the bishops longstanding anger at Obama and turned them into one of his most vocal opponents.

So far, however, the hierarchy's efforts do not seem to have swayed Catholics, who often agree with the bishops on some issues but still tend to support Obama over Romney. And in October, just before the election, Obama is set to appear with Romney at a high-profile charity dinner hosted by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan -- a platform some conservatives fear could give Obama a boost with Catholics. That has led to unusual criticism of Dolan from the right.

Obama's Catholic sponsors provide an interesting contrast to the "Catholics for Romney" team that was unveiled two weeks ago. The six national co-chairs are all former ambassadors to the Vatican.

Here are the "Catholics for Obama" national co-chairs:

Former State Representative Polly Baca, Colorado
Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Washington, DC
Representative Xavier Becerra, California
Nicholas Cafardi, Pennsylvania
Former Representative Kathy Dahlkemper, Pennsylvania
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, Connecticut
Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois
Miguel Foster, Michigan
Thomas Groome, Massachusetts
Representative Marcy Kaptur, Ohio
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Massachusetts
Victoria Kovari, Michigan
Sister Jamie Phelps, Louisiana
Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland
Former Representative James Oberstar, Minnesota
Lawrence Parks, Washington, DC
Fred Rotondaro, Washington, DC
Representative Tim Ryan, Ohio
Stephen Schneck, Washington, DC
John Sweeney, Maryland
Mark Tuohey, Washington, DC

The Obama campaign said that state co-chairs will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Topics: Politics, Election
Beliefs: Christian - Catholic
Tags: barack obama 2012 election, catholics, catholics for obama, democrats


  1. Yes we can and do endorse B. Obama for President of the U.S.A. Why? The United States is better off with Obama than without him. It is that simple.

  2. World Endangered by Religion
    Religion is the biggest threat and barrier to humanity to evolve to know Truth and the Spirit God or True knowledge that gives life and sustains Life. We often get stagnated in the name and form and fail to evolve in to substance. The whole world is endangered by increasing natural catastrophes, which are manifesting because of human ignorance of design and functioning by which earth maintains the energy to matter ratio thus the temperature and sustains life. The world can come alive and make corrections to survive. Link “Critical Thinking on Global Warming and Increasing Climate Catastrophes” -
    But I am more concerned with Blind religious leaders. The world is tending to self destruction, in the name of religions. All the world governments have a religious orientation and their decision are indirectly influenced by religious leaders. The world is polarizing and is kicking it self for Killing and Destroying other in the name of Life Giving and Sustaining God!!!!. We have already accumulated weapons of mass destruction, that can destroy the world in minutes. The modern day Christianity is no different form Jews. They do not recognize Christ. Instead of making people connect to the consciousness and the Light within and take actions from its realm, thus strengthening, the family, community and nations, they have existed as slave to money, evil kings of this material world, seeking their “self” and working for material advancement of their institutions at all cost. They do not hesitate, to tear people from their consciousness, from their family, from other community, other nations, to advance their self. For their “self” advancement they do not hesitate to stand with any abominable paths individual, family, community and Nations take. Every where the rich and powerful evils rule the churches. The position of spiritual leaders are above that of the king. The world filled with weapons of mass destruction, tending to disorder and destruction, purely exist in the failure of spiritual leaders. The world today is dominated by west, where Christianity rules as spiritual guides. They directly become responsible for the world we live in. One thing that the organized Christianity lacks is the Spirit of Christ.

  3. Dear John,
      here we go again… would say our dear old REAGAN.
    First you accuse the so called Christians of causing all kind of natural disasters and being the cause of all the evils of present day society and then at the end you say that they should have a bit of the “Spirit of Christ”! Then you agree exactly with the people that you criticize. Remember this: Because I say that I am a millionaire, does not mean that my bank account will increase… So because people say that they are Christians does not really mean that they believe and follow Christ! Even Judas was called a disciple of Christ!

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