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Democrats' outreach seeks to woo U.S. Catholic voters
National Catholic Reporter ^ | 16 June 2006 | Joe Feuerherd

Posted on 06/15/2006 9:12:57 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher

WASHINGTON (National Catholic Reporter) – In the not too distant past it would have been redundant for the Democratic National Committee to hire a “Catholic Outreach” coordinator. Those duties – negotiating with a powerful cardinal, lining up support from an influential union leader, getting out the big-city vote – were handled by party chairman whose names (Farley, Flynn, Hannegan, Boyle, McGrath, McKinney, Bailey, O’Brien) read like roll call at an Ancient Order of Hibernians meeting.

Today, however, the creation of such a job is considered not only pragmatically essential but symbolically important, a mea culpa of sorts for neglecting the white ethnics once core to the Democratic base.

A Catholic outreach director will be hired by the Democratic National Committee as early as this month, rounding out an inside-the-beltway religious organizing team at the party’s Capitol Hill headquarters that includes staffers devoted to promoting the party’s message to Muslims, African-American churches, mainline Protestants and Jews.

It’s the latest indication, say some observers, that Democrats have learned a key lesson of John Kerry’s failed 2004 presidential campaign. “I’m very encouraged that the Democratic Party seems more open and amendable to being inclusive and welcoming to pro-life Democrats like me,” said Raymond Flynn, former mayor of Boston and Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the Vatican. “They’ve been far more receptive this year than anytime I can recall.”

“The last cycle was a wake-up call,” said Leslie Brown, coordinator of the national committee’s “faith in action” effort. “When you lose [the Catholic vote] with a Catholic candidate then you’ve got to go back” and address the problem, she said.

Kerry lost the white Catholic vote to President Bush by 13 points, and by an even greater margin in the key swing state of Ohio, which is why Brown and her boss, committee chair Howard Dean, are not the only Democrats thinking about Catholics:

- Among 1,224 white Catholics surveyed Feb. 23-May 25 on their preferences for the House of Representatives, 48 percent favor Democrats, while 42 percent favor Republicans, according to Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner polling data. That’s a 14-point shift from 2004, when Republican candidates outpolled Democrats among white Catholics by an 8 percent margin. Democrats need to pick up 15 seats to control the House for the first time since 1994.

- Anxious to retake the closely divided Senate, pro-choice Democratic leaders, such as New York Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recruited Pennsylvania’s popular pro-life state treasurer, Robert Casey, to challenge two-term incumbent Rick Santorum. Casey leads Santorum 49-36 percent, with 12 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in early May.

- Party leaders put Virginia’s new Catholic governor, Timothy Kaine, out front in January. “Our faith and values teach us that there’s no higher calling than serving others,” Kaine said in his nationally televised response to the president’s State of the Union address. On the stump in his 2005 gubernatorial campaign Kaine spoke frequently of how his faith influenced his policy positions.

- Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives, both pro-life and pro-choice, issued a “Statement of Catholic Principles” Feb. 28. “We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion,” said the statement, signed by 55 House Democrats. “Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children’s health care and child-care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.”

The Catholic House Democrats were responding to prominent members of the American hierarchy who challenged the pro-choice Kerry’s Catholic credentials in 2004 and, at least by implication, their own standing as Catholics. “It was in response to a characterization of the Catholic members [of Congress] as basically sinners and nonbelievers, which is not true,” Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) told a May 10 forum hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress on “How Catholic Progressives View the Role of Faith in Governance.”

“If you’re a public official for any appreciable amount of time there will come a time when there will be public policy issues that will conflict... with a particular teaching of the Catholic Church,” said Gonzalez.

Mining for ‘values voters’

The evolving Democratic strategy to win the Catholic vote is based on two pillars: engage, and hopefully diffuse, the debate over abortion and other hot-button social issues while simultaneously broadening the discussion over “values” to include issues such as health care, education, the environment, wages, corporate greed, public corruption, and immigration.

Catholic Democrats are “very responsive to a broad initiative to reduce unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions” even when offered by a pro-choice legislator, pollster Stanley Greenberg said in a March 2005 memo titled “Reclaiming the White Catholic Vote.” (Greenberg, incidentally, is married to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., primary author of the “Statement of Catholic Principles.”)

Democratic polling, said the Democratic National Committee’s Brown, demonstrates that “the wedge issues from the last [election] cycle are not what most values-voters identify with.” That doesn’t mean that these voters “don’t have an opinion” on the social issues, said Brown, but that issues such as health care, the economy and Iraq now trump the social policy concerns.

Further, wrote Greenberg, while division among white Catholics “is an invitation for Republicans to take their cultural war to a new level... there is no reason why Democrats should fail to battle for the dislodged Catholic voters. These voters can be won back, both with reassurance on values and security and a broader agenda that recognizes Catholic support for tolerance, progress, a strong family and a strong middle class.”

Dealing with the hierarchy

It’s one thing, say Democratic strategists, to reach out to Catholics in the pews, quite another to placate vocal members of the hierarchy and conservative Catholic opinion-shapers who used their pulpits in 2004 to challenge Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic office seekers. Party officials are still spooked by Kerry’s run-ins with high-profile bishops and by attacks from the conservative Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights against two operatives hired during the campaign.

In early August 2004, the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson was forced out of her post as the national committee’s director of religious outreach after the League revealed she had joined 31 other religious leaders in filing a friend of the court brief in support of removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Previously, the Kerry campaign silenced religious outreach coordinator Mara Vanderslice after the Catholic League issued news releases that labeled her soft on anti-Catholicism because she had engaged in civil disobedience with, among others, the AIDS activist organization, Act-UP.

The tangling continues

Speaking at the International Congress on Churches in Mexico City in November 2005, San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez said, “This debate stopped being an abstraction when in the last presidential election one of the candidates was a Catholic who calls himself devout and who has, however, defended the most radical positions in favor of abortion.”

Continued Gomez, “Catholic cannot say that he is Catholic, and at the same time disagree with the doctrine of the church in essential matters. In order to be a Catholic, we need to believe like a Catholic, to act like a Catholic and to speak like a Catholic.”

No wonder Gonzalez was nervous when scheduled to meet with Gomez.

“We have a new archbishop in San Antonio,” Gonzalez, referring to Gomez, told the May 10 panel on Catholic progressives. “It took me about three months to get up the courage to sit there with him and discuss things because I knew that I was basically not on the ‘right side’ of three major issues. The good news is that we spent very little time on one of those issues and then spent a lot of time on immigration, [where] obviously I’m right in line with the Catholic Church.”

The debate over immigration legislation has provided an opening for Democrats anxious to align themselves with the church hierarchy when they can. Case in point, the April 28 visit of Cardinals Roger Mahony and Theodore McCarrick with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Catholic Sens. Edward Kennedy and Richard Durbin. “We need the church’s voice now as much as ever to urge Congress and the president to get the job done – and to do it in a way that upholds our best values and traditions as a nation of immigrants,” Kennedy told the press following that meeting. (Later that day , Cardinals Mahony and McCarrick, joined by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and held a similar news conference.)

The Democrats’ delicate dance with the hierarchy is evident in the hiring of the national committee’s Catholic outreach coordinator.

“We need someone who will not alienate the institutional church,” said a Democrat familiar with the hiring process. “Someone with credibility who understands how to organize within the church and understands the politics of [the church] and is able to navigate through that while also understanding the complexity of the issues in the Democratic Party.”

Meanwhile, with decidedly Democratic roots but a nonpartisan mission, the newly-formed “Catholic Alliance for the Common Good” hopes to take the message promoted by the American bishops in their 2003 statement on “Faithful Citizenship” to a broader audience. That statement, which reiterated Catholic social justice teaching in light of a range of contemporary issues, was generally welcomed by Democrats. It was, however, supplanted in many dioceses by a pamphlet distributed by the conservative group “Catholic Answers” which emphasized the “non-negotiable issues,” foremost among them abortion, on which Catholic voters should base their votes.

“We hope to promote the ‘faithful citizenship’ agenda, especially as we move into the next election cycle,” said David O’Brien, professor of history at Holy Cross College and an alliance board member. Other board members include: Elizabeth Bagley, former Clinton administration ambassador to Portugal and a major Democratic fundraiser; former Hillary Clinton chief of staff (and former National Catholic Reporter board member) Melanne Verveer; former U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops associate general secretary Frank Doyle; and Pax Christi USA executive director David Robinson.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: catholicoutreach; catholicvote; dopeydems; gop; johnfnkerry
Alternatively, the Dems could stop supporting killing babies and destroying the family...
1 posted on 06/15/2006 9:13:02 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher
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To: Aussie Dasher

They must think Catholics are fools.


2 posted on 06/15/2006 9:14:25 PM PDT by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker! (Charlie Mike, son))
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To: Aussie Dasher

Speaking as a Catholic, are these guys really that out of touch with us?!


3 posted on 06/15/2006 9:15:28 PM PDT by ECM (Government is a make-work program for lawyers.)
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To: Aussie Dasher
Wrong church. The Democrats' constituency is over here
4 posted on 06/15/2006 9:15:54 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan (California bashers will be called out)
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To: ECM

In a word, YES.


5 posted on 06/15/2006 9:17:15 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: Aussie Dasher
. . . being inclusive and welcoming to pro-life Democrats like me. . .

And how are they doing it, exactly? Promising to kill only two-thirds the number of unborn children?

6 posted on 06/15/2006 9:17:45 PM PDT by Andyman (God loves you just the way you are . . . but too much to leave you that way.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Democrats are the Party of Death and Percersion....why would ANY religious person want to join it??


7 posted on 06/15/2006 9:18:29 PM PDT by Suzy Quzy ("When Cabals Go Kaboom"....upcoming book on Mary McCarthy's Coup-Plotters.)
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To: bnelson44

Massachusetts Catholics have been the root cause of Kennedy-worship for 40 years. Rhode Island too.


8 posted on 06/15/2006 9:21:41 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: Aussie Dasher

So Bishop Gomez believes in ILLEGAL immigration, and didn't stand up for LIFE of Unborn Babies!! Geesh.


9 posted on 06/15/2006 9:24:17 PM PDT by Suzy Quzy ("When Cabals Go Kaboom"....upcoming book on Mary McCarthy's Coup-Plotters.)
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To: ElkGroveDan

Godless....liberals are Godless....and ANTI-CHRISTIAN!!


10 posted on 06/15/2006 9:25:07 PM PDT by Suzy Quzy ("When Cabals Go Kaboom"....upcoming book on Mary McCarthy's Coup-Plotters.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

'“The last cycle was a wake-up call,” said Leslie Brown, coordinator of the national committee’s “faith in action” effort. “When you lose [the Catholic vote] with a Catholic candidate then you’ve got to go back” and address the problem, she said.'

I. e., When you lose the Catholic vote, you have to re-group and make up a new set of lies.


11 posted on 06/15/2006 9:28:39 PM PDT by Rembrandt (We would have won Viet Nam w/o Dim interference.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

They will one day discover that you can not finesse the truth any more than you can finesse gravity after you have stepped off a cliff.


12 posted on 06/15/2006 9:45:08 PM PDT by Chesterbelloc
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To: Aussie Dasher


Please vote for us.....Please! We'll give you a dollar! Come on, someone needs to vote for us or it's not really an election...


13 posted on 06/15/2006 9:45:27 PM PDT by Tzimisce (How Would Mohammed Vote? Hillary for President! www.dndorks.com)
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To: Aussie Dasher
It’s one thing, say Democratic strategists, to reach out to Catholics in the pews, quite another to placate vocal members of the hierarchy and conservative Catholic opinion-shapers who used their pulpits in 2004 to challenge Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic office seekers. Party officials are still spooked by Kerry’s run-ins with high-profile bishops and by attacks from the conservative Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights against two operatives hired during the campaign.

In early August 2004, the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson was forced out of her post as the national committee’s director of religious outreach after the League revealed she had joined 31 other religious leaders in filing a friend of the court brief in support of removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Previously, the Kerry campaign silenced religious outreach coordinator Mara Vanderslice after the Catholic League issued news releases that labeled her soft on anti-Catholicism because she had engaged in civil disobedience with, among others, the AIDS activist organization, Act-UP.

...

Speaking at the International Congress on Churches in Mexico City in November 2005, San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez said, “This debate stopped being an abstraction when in the last presidential election one of the candidates was a Catholic who calls himself devout and who has, however, defended the most radical positions in favor of abortion.”

Continued Gomez, “Catholic cannot say that he is Catholic, and at the same time disagree with the doctrine of the church in essential matters. In order to be a Catholic, we need to believe like a Catholic, to act like a Catholic and to speak like a Catholic.”

The problem that will continue to plague Demonrats, as long as the Kennedys and Kerrys of the political world live.

14 posted on 06/15/2006 9:47:13 PM PDT by Kryptonite (Keep Democrats Out of Power!)
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To: bnelson44
They must think Catholics are fools.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Catholics who vote for Democrats because that is what they have always done. My sister-in-laws family, from Youngstown Ohio, is like that. They have been faithful Catholics and faithful Democrats for generations.
15 posted on 06/15/2006 9:54:47 PM PDT by Talking_Mouse (Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just... Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Aussie Dasher
"Democrats' outreach seeks to woo U.S. Catholic voters"

As usual, dems are trying to get votes by wooing "groups" instead of individuals. It's "lazy work" for them, for they then only have to win over the "leaders" of any given group instead of the rank and file.

America is great because it is made up of individuals, united in one cause...FREEDOM. The democrats/left offer neither.
16 posted on 06/15/2006 10:07:47 PM PDT by FrankR (Don't let the bastards wear you down...)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Why does this publication include the term "Catholic" in its title? It's quite misleading.


17 posted on 06/15/2006 10:29:48 PM PDT by Proud2BAmerican
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To: Aussie Dasher

The Dems would do well among the davinci code loving catholics, not the real ones.


18 posted on 06/15/2006 10:38:45 PM PDT by GregH
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To: Aussie Dasher
Ray Flynn is doing a great job pretending to be a happy Democrat while his party pimps his religion to get more pro-abortion candidates into power so that they can ensure and ever increasing number of abortions. Maybe THAT is why Flynn seems so happy about this? Some pro-lifer he is.

The Dems will get the Catholic vote in those big union, socialist states and lose them in the midwest and south. Not much will change when every single person at the top of your party is gung ho on sodomy and abortion. The Catholic 'church' may be attending these rallies but actual Catholics will continue to avoid the DNC until they recognize that marriage is not a poll driven institution.

19 posted on 06/15/2006 10:54:00 PM PDT by bpjam (If we take 12M Mexicans, they have to take Kennedy & McCain!)
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To: Aussie Dasher

I know one catholic they best not approach.....


20 posted on 06/16/2006 2:02:01 AM PDT by HarleyLady27 (My ? to libs: "Do they ever shut up on your planet?" "Grow your own DOPE: Plant a LIB!")
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To: Aussie Dasher

The only faithful citizenship I will ever have is to heaven.


21 posted on 06/16/2006 3:23:47 AM PDT by OpusatFR ( ALEA IACTA EST. We have just crossed the Rubicon.)
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To: Aussie Dasher
From the article:

No wonder Gonzalez was nervous when scheduled to meet with Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez is a member of Opus Dei. Since the Democrats enjoy the support of Hollywood, and Hollywood's strong promotion of Da Vinci Code, this is an attack on this San Antonio Archbishop.

The movie Da Vinci Code does villify Opus Dei (which means the The Work of God if I remember correctly).

Either the Democrats in the House will coddle up to Hollywood (Tom Hanks et al.) and oppose the Catholic Church or they will ask money from Hollywood with one hand and ask for votes from Catholics with the other hand...

Seems that the House Democrats have the Witchcraft and Satanic Cult votes locked up. What do they want with 60 million Catholic votes...

22 posted on 06/16/2006 3:57:29 AM PDT by topher (Let us return to old-fashioned morality - morality that has stood the test of time...)
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To: Aussie Dasher

"Democrats' outreach seeks to woo U.S. Catholic voters"

It will be a very cold day in Hell before you get a "true" Catholic to side with the Dim's. Gay marrige, abortion run counter to their fundemental beliefs.

The Dim's are peeing into the wind on this one.


23 posted on 06/16/2006 5:13:34 AM PDT by mr_hammer (They have eyes, but do not see . . .)
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To: ECM

Isn't this publication known for it's 'liberal' Catholicism?
As a traditional, conservative Catholic, I see this as a contradiction of terms: one can NOT be a believing Catholic who follows it's tenets, and be a Democrat!


24 posted on 06/16/2006 5:18:14 AM PDT by SouthCarolinaKit
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To: bnelson44

As a co-chair of Catholics Against Kerry I am amazed that this piece was written without our comment. Nevertheless, although we weren't asked, I'll give our response anyway.




Any poll showing Democrats leading Republicans among Catholics must be carefully scrutinized. Questions of exactly who was spoken to must be asked. Active, real Catholics are lost to the Democrats. We Catholics are 67 million people in America. Anyone can find a group of Catholics who favor one party over another. It is election results that tell the story.




In 2000 George Bush lost Catholics 52/ 48. In 2004 he won the Catholic vote 53/ 46. In Ohio CaK spent heavily on radio in the Youngstown area. We appealed to Catholics on both sides of the Ohio Pennsylvania border. As a result we bent back the Democrat's edge in the essential Youngstown area. In 2000 Bush won Ohio but got beaten 35/65 in Youngstown. In 2004 it was 37/63. This 4 point swing went a long way toward our victory in Ohio and the nation.




In New Mexico, we ran radio spots in English, Spanish and Navajo. While Bush lost New Mexico by 350 votes in 2000, he won by about 9500 in 2004. The counties we saturated improved by about 9000 votes.
It is not a stretch to say Catholics elected Bush in 2004, active real Catholics that is.





The Democrats have changed nothing but their words since 2004. As active genuine Catholics, we will be there in 2008. Please watch for our grand reopening.


25 posted on 06/16/2006 5:27:32 AM PDT by jmaroneps37 (John Spencer: Fighting to save America from Hillary Clinton..)
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To: Aussie Dasher; Coleus
pro-life Democrats

An oxymoron if I ever heard one. That being said, the most strident libs I have ever come across are Irish Catholics. There are two of them in my office and they make Teddy Kennedy seem sane when discussing politics. I can't understand that for the life of me. I would think Catholic and Democrat are mutually exclusive.

26 posted on 06/16/2006 5:35:58 AM PDT by MattinNJ (The paleocon's paleocon.)
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To: topher
Seems that the House Democrats have the Witchcraft and Satanic Cult votes locked up. What do they want with 60 million Catholic votes...
---
It's a division of labor thing.
They need the Catholic votes to actually get them back into power since the Catholics have lots of votes.
The Democrats use the Witchcraft and Satanic Cults for ideas as to how to govern after they are back in power, since they have lots of ideas the Democrats approve of, but not a lot of votes.
27 posted on 06/16/2006 6:14:24 AM PDT by Cheburashka (World's only Spatula City certified spatula repair and maintenance specialist!!!)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Lets see, as a Catholic I believe marriage is a sacred institution and a covenant between God and a man and a woman.... That abortion is murder pure and simple.. that homosexuality is a sin.. etc.. etc.. etc...

Yea, the Dems got a snowballs chance in hell of convincing me that they are who I should vote for.


28 posted on 06/16/2006 6:19:35 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: Aussie Dasher

Democratic National Committee's main web page has no mention of anything Catholic, but they have a prominent link to "LGBT: Proclamation on LGBT PRIDE Month" - they don't even pretend to hide their enthusiasm for homosexuality.


They apparently no longer link to the "Catholics for a Free Choice" hoax, though.


29 posted on 06/16/2006 6:45:29 AM PDT by Feldkurat_Katz (What no womenís magazine ever offers to improve is womenís minds - Taki)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Democrats forced the Catholic Church out of the adoption business in Massachusetts.


30 posted on 06/16/2006 6:46:57 AM PDT by SamAdams_Lite
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To: SouthCarolinaKit

I once got into a screaming match with an ex-gf that was pro-choice and professed that she was a Catholic--needless to say, the relationship died a swift death shortly thereafter.


31 posted on 06/16/2006 6:48:19 AM PDT by ECM (Government is a make-work program for lawyers.)
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: jmaroneps37

I'm beginning to think we conservative Catholics need to bypass many of our own hierarchy with a direct plea to the Pope.


34 posted on 06/16/2006 7:14:12 AM PDT by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: MattinNJ

Not this Irish Catholic. :)


35 posted on 06/16/2006 7:15:48 AM PDT by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

This pitch is just aimed at the unobservant faux Catholics. I'm a Catholic, and I know these types who use their religious identity for rhetorical purposes only, like Kennedy and Kerry. The Catholics who actually practice are moving to the conservative coalition.


36 posted on 06/16/2006 7:23:21 AM PDT by blitzgig
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To: sageb1

Love your tagline. I am old school Catholic. Not great about attending church on a regular basis but would be in the front ranks if the Pope called for a new Crusade.


37 posted on 06/16/2006 7:57:04 AM PDT by MattinNJ (The paleocon's paleocon.)
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To: mr_hammer
It will be a very cold day in Hell before you get a "true" Catholic to side with the Dim's. Gay marrige, abortion run counter to their fundemental beliefs.

Now that is certainly the case. However, when President Kennedy was a Democrat that was not the case. That is the time that many of the people the Dims are reaching out to made their political identity choice. These are the Democrats that Zell Miller was happy to call his fellow Democrats.

The Dims can not get through their heads that they have moved too far to the left to allow people of good conscience to side with them. One of the party planks is abortion. There can be no compromise on supporting the killing of an innocent life, according to the Catholic church.

If I am to be faithful to my church I can not vote for a pro-choice candidate. I am playing with my eternal salvation. Eternity tops temporal politics every time. I don't care that the Democrats are promising free healthcare now and to take care of me when I am old (not that they will do it but that is what they are implying). Jesus will take care of me for forever.

Catholics who actually think through their political choices (a difficult thing to find with less than half of us attending Mass weekly) have to see that the Democratic party has left them, they have not left it.
38 posted on 06/16/2006 8:08:47 AM PDT by Talking_Mouse (Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just... Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Aussie Dasher; Smartass

http://www.lifenews.com/nat2362.html

Democrats Appoint Catholic Outreach Coordinator After Abortion Failures

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 16, 2006


Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- After losing the Catholic vote in 2004 because of their extreme position in favor of all abortions, the Democratic National Committee has appointed a "Catholic outreach coordinator" to help the party win back some of it support. Someone will be hired for the post as early as this month.
“The last cycle was a wake-up call,” said Leslie Brown, coordinator of the Democrats' religious-based outreach efforts.

“When you lose [the Catholic vote] with a Catholic candidate then you've got to go back” and address the problem, she told the National Catholic Reporter.

Pro-abortion Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic, was the Democratic nominee, but he lost the presidential race in large part because of the 22 percent of voters who said moral issues such as abortion were most important.

President Bush led among such voters, which included many Catholics, by a 4-1 margin.

Bush increased his share of the Catholic vote by five percentage points (52% in 2004, vs. 47% in 2000 according to Pew Research exit polls) because of his pro-life record.

On the other hand, Kerry's long-standing pro-abortion voting record, his cozy relationship with leading groups like Planned Parenthood, and his defense during one of the presidential debates of using taxpayer funds to pay for abortions hurt his chances with Catholics.

The decision to have a Catholic outreach coordinator follows a marked change in approach national Democrats are taking -- recognizing that they have lost elections because of their rigid pro-abortion stance.

Illustrating the new direction, stridently pro-abortion New York Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recruited pro-life state treasurer Robert Casey to run against pro-life Sen. Rick Santorum. The move upset abortion advocates in the party, but Schumer didn't back down.

Democrats have also started leading the fight against abortion at the state legislative level. The sponsor of the abortion ban in South Dakota was a Democrat and Democratic Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco is expected to sign an abortion ban there.

The overtures are a hopeful sign for longtime pro-life Democrats.

“I'm very encouraged that the Democratic Party seems more open and amenable to being inclusive and welcoming to pro-life Democrats like me,” Ray Flynn, former mayor of Boston and ambassador to the Vatican, told the National Catholic Reporter. “They've been far more receptive this year than anytime I can recall.”

The overtures also help bring the party more in line with grassroots Democrats. A January 2003 Zogby poll revealed 43 percent of Democrats oppose all or most abortions.

However, the Catholic outreach coordinator will have a tough job ahead if the 2008 presidential nominee is Kerry or any of the leading potential candidates.

From John Kerry and Al Gore to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, all of the leading contenders back unlimited abortion and most have long voting histories in Congress opposing bills like a ban on partial-birth abortions and supporting using tax money to pay for abortions.

Lesser known contenders like Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also support abortion and have been criticized by pro-life groups for their voting records or vetoes of pro-life bills.

Without a single pro-life candidate appearing to have the chance to capture the party's 2008 presidential nomination, the Democratic Party will likely find itself out of step on abortion with most voters, and Catholics, again in 2008.


39 posted on 06/16/2006 4:52:07 PM PDT by bitt ("Land of the Free, because of the Brave...")
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