Catholics in Iowa “not sitting on the sidelines”

The National Catholic Reporter goes looking for Catholic reaction to what is happening in Iowa these days:

Religion has had an extraordinary presence in the buildup to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, but Catholics have been distinguished by their silence.

“It’s part of the Catholic culture,” said Deacon Dan McGuire, parish administrator at Assumption Parish in Granger, Iowa. “We get involved in politics. That’s obvious. But as a former excluded minority … we keep faith in our private community. We don’t vocalize it in public.”

The Des Moines Register, the largest and most influential newspaper in the state, has been filled with articles, guest editorials and letters to the editor from the candidates, evangelical pastors and laypersons about the importance of faith in caucus choices. And candidates have been appearing at scores of Protestant churches around the state, eagerly proclaiming their Christianity and dedication to “traditional values.”

But the two Catholic candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have made few references to their religion and there have been few, if any, public statements from probable Catholic GOP caucus attendees, let alone the Democratic opposition.

“I have not seen candidates challenged by Catholics,” said Kathie Obradovich, a Register political columnist who is a Catholic and whose spouse, Jim, is a deacon. That’s in contrast to “lots of evangelical Christian organizations … that raise money and get involved in politics.”…

…Tom Quiner of Des Moines owns a marketing firm with his wife, Karen, and in his spare time writes musicals. He’s just finished one called “The Pope of the People: The John Paul II Musical.” He supports Gingrich, and says Catholics “are not sitting on the sidelines.” They are “energized by life issues, especially the traditional marriage issue and the contraception issue,” adding that he believes Catholics have “a sense that their conscience protection is at risk.”

Quiner said he believes Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism “resonates with a lot of Catholics” despite Gingrich’s three marriages. That conversion was obviously not a political move, he says, because it has never been a political advantage to be a Catholic.

“We respect him for it because it was done out of conviction,” he said. “We have a sense that he has matured, that he’s a different person, is a grandfather and is more ‘other’-oriented.”

For Quiner and many evangelicals and Catholics, abortion is “the No. 1 issue.” As for other church teachings that touch on politics, he says that “as a conservative, there are certain issues on which I’ll take issue with the church.”

Kim Lehman of Johnston, a GOP national committeewoman for Iowa, is a Santorum supporter. She says it’s true that Catholics may not be identifying themselves as such, but she has lots of Catholic friends who are involved with caucus candidates. She said she believes Catholics and others should vote according to “what’s important to God,” and believes abortion trumps all other issues. “It’s intrinsically evil to advance abortion,” she said.

Read the rest.

Meantime, Catholic Vote reports that Romney is campaigning in Catholic country, where he did well four years ago.  Check out this map.

  • HermitTalker

    The comment about keeping the Catholic faith private is unfortunate. If it means we use our faith to vote our consciences, and share our views with others, that is fine. If it means we do not identify with a candidate on one issue or back him just because he is of our particular religious persuasion that shows maturity. One would pray and hope that the more outspoken herarchy and clergy would educate on the Gospel of Life in such a way that they are not “heard” or “seen” as vote GOP. The Church as institution is above the political fray, its members vote their consciences in light of the Consistent Ethic of life package.

  • Mark

    Pretty hard for Catholics to support the Partner of Planned Parenthood abortion mills, Obama. But many do so without giving strong consideration to the Bishops letter that to support an abortion supporting candidate, one needed to find a proportionate reason to do so. I have yet to see anyone come up with anything close to the continued killing of innocent babies especially in view of the fact that the holocaust has already claimed 8 times more lives than the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazi’s. We went to war to end the Nazi regime. But we had a whole bunch ignore this key necessity in forming ones conscience to vote last time and I suspect many will once again ignore this key teaching on “proportionate reason” again and that is truly sad for them and the 4000 babies a day who will die as a result. If one truly says they want to end the government legalized holocuast, telling the Democratic Party that they will lose the vote of all who are pro life until they drop this support would bring this holocaust to an end in a short time frame. No one can tell me that if abortion support and legalization were ended, we would have anywhere near 4000 babies a day slaughtered with a straight face.

  • irishsmile

    The ‘Life’ issue should resonate first and foremost with Catholics! That being said; it doesn’t. Poorly catechized Catholics are in the mainstream regarding their opinions on abortion and gay marriage. Somehow, though there are faithful Catholics notwithstanding, many, many that sit in the pews right next to us at church cling to a modernist heresy that pits individual conscience against church teaching. Think about the last time that you heard a strong homily at your parish condemning moral evils like abortion and sexual perversion. For most of us, not within recent memory. Too many that pull paychecks in the church reflect and project to those around them only issues that are close to their hearts: poverty & illegal immigration. Catholicism is much more than that and our children need to be taught the Faith in its entirety to be able to understand their voting obligation. Malformed consciences lead to disasterous consequences within society.

  • friscoeddie

    Irishsmile; “Poorly catechized Catholics are in the mainstream regarding their opinions on abortion and gay marriage.”
    All catholics know the church’s position on these issues. You say poorly catechized and I say they disagree. How about all the people in the pews that don’t agree with Humanae Vitae? Maybe you can explain to them why it’s intrinsically evil to take the pill to delay ovulation but OK to take it to regulate periods.. If you can explain it well then maybe 90% of married catholics will take heed. Go…

  • naturgesetz

    The former suppresses healthy function; the latter corrects malfunction.

  • Fiergenholt

    Re: “friscoeddie” and “naturgesetz.” A few years back in a multi-party conversation with a priest friend I know (who probably needs some guidance in discretion), he mentioned that penitents confessing “birth-control” was a very rare event in his ministry. Another person in that group who was a nurse in a doctors’ office (and also maybe a bit indiscreet) said something like: “I have no doubt about that. You have to understand that if you are not sexually active, taking the “pill” is not a sin at all. Perhaps being sexually active outside of marriage is the real sin they are committing. Father, when was the last time you preached about that?”

    Remarkable wisdom here.

  • DeconNorb

    I married into a several generation Iowa Catholic family. They are remarkably sensible folks: quite moderate in all things and — as mentioned in the posting — equally likely to keep their faith in a sense of balance. Being a Catholic voter in Iowa will mean being dedicated to the process of the American citizenship. They may not heavily campaign but they will heavily vote. They absolutely will not engage in the ugly fanaticism that fascinates the media because they do recognize false hyperbole when they see it.

    The process of this Iowa Caucus may be strange to the rest of the country but it is quite in-character in the Great Plains — neighbors in friendly conversation about what is important to them in the civil affairs of their country.

  • Fiergenholt

    “DeconNorb” ? Maybe “Deacon Norb”? (must be a defective keyboard!)

    Your insight “They absolutely will not engage in the ugly fanaticism that fascinates the media because they do recognize false hyperbole when they see it” carries an interesting implication. Are you really saying that a lot of the political statements we are hearing in the media are “false hyperbole?” Does that also mean that some of the comments on this and similar blog-streams of a political nature are also “false hyperbole?” Wow! Never thought of that — but you are correct!


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