Where Were These People When I Was Running for President?

The question had to be going through my friend Rick Santorum’s mind last week as he was cheered at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.: Where were these people when I was running for president? Where were the Catholics when he was running for the Republican nomination for president?

As I would say when asked, I’d sleep much better than I do now with either Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney as president. I believe both to be good men who have lead on some issues important to me (like liberty and the dignity of man!).

Catholics don’t vote as a clan and there were prudential considerations in picking a candidate during the primary. Lots of them. Electoral records. Experience. But at the Prayer Breakfast Thursday, I wondered: Is there more there for Catholics to consider?

First of all, it’s no secret that a “personally opposed” cloud has seeped into our public practice of the faith, where many Catholics really walk away from our faith in the public square, except when convenient to mention that we were, say an altar boy in Scranton, or taught by nuns at Trinity College. And even those of us who do let our faith inform our civic life, maybe we’ve bought into this secularist mindset, too. We’ve adapted, too. When we find ourselves asking: Couldn’t Santorum keep himself from talking about social issues? Couldn’t he steer off them when asked?

I do wonder if, on some level, Rick Santorum’s poor showing among Catholics isn’t a wee bit of a continued indictment of us. Here I think of folks who are put off by his public witness to his faith, his transparent attempt to integrate his public and private lives. There are plenty of prudential considerations, of course. And even prudential reasons for not wanting to have to have Americans’ hear the media endlessly play video of an interview where the alternative to Obama talks about how he will talk about the dangers of contraception as president at a time where Democrats are cynically, shamelessly trying to scare single women, especially, into voting for them. (Dems lost women for the first time since such things were tracked (1982) in the 2010 midterm elections.) But if you are turned off by his apostolic fearlessness — that would lead to moments like this one and this one — that’s probably worth reflecting on.

We do adapt to our surroundings. Sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

With some of those thoughts in my head, I call him The UnKennedy in my syndicated column this week.


  • bob puharic

    I think K-Lo aims sharp but misses widely in her shooting. I read NRO’s “Corner’ blog religiously, so to speak. She almost never…repeat…never…addresses ANY social concern beyond issues related to sex (including abortion.) The Bishops, of course, are obsessed with it as well, having a meltdown to the point where Bishop Jenky compared Obama to Hitler! Have these people at long last no sense of decency? In a country where poverty has increased, inequality of opportunity is worse in God fearing America than any other industrialized country, where even Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical “Caritas in Veritas” called for healthy and robust labor unions, conservatives continue their war on sex.

    Remarkable. Truly.

    • jack

      I think, Bob, people such as Kathryn (and Bishop Jenky, who hardly had a “meltdown”) would rather leave the corporal works of mercy to the work of charitable organizations, not so much to the work of the gov’t, and when the gov’t seeks to wage a “war on sex” as you put it, which would force Catholics to act against their consciences, to pay for contraception and abortifacients, covertly or overtly, Catholics such as Kathryn cannot do otherwise but act, and vigorously, against them.

    • eric

      I totally agree. I’m very tired of Ms Lopez’s preachings about sex and contraception too — as well as this egotistical belief that she represents the voice of Catholics (as when she refers to Catholics as “us” in the above post). But she doesn’t represent Catholics. Period. She’ll play the role of a press agent for the Pope when it’s convenient (i.e. in matters involving sex) — but her overall views are more aligned with Ayn Rand than the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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  • Alicia

    I read your “UnKennedy” column and all I can say is that it’s anachronistic. So is Chaput’s view. Go back 50 years and try to envision what it was like to be Catholic, especially in the South, where it was no stretch for people to accuse you of being under the sway of a foreign power. All the palaver being dished out now about Kennedy’s sell-out of his religion is purely that, since Kennedy did have to prove he was capable of acting in America’s interests and not the Vatican’s. Santorum has not had nearly the baggage to carry.

  • Michael DePietro

    its really very simple, the economic issues that concern you are not ones that the just moral issues that the Church can say we must have this policy or that policy. In fact many policies you articulated by the Democrats largely hurt poor people. There is actual evidence for this. For example the poverty rate which was declining steeply prior to 1965 actually stopped declining after implementation of the great society programs favored by the Peace and Justice Wing of the Church. I would argue this wing is a menace to the poor, if I detested the poor and wanted to grin them further into poverty I would simply follow the USCCB peace and Justice commission economic policy recommendations. That said however economic policy arguments are not about principle they are about how best to achieve the same goals. We all want to achieve justice for the poor, the argument then is really over what set of policies are the most helpful. As such the Church can not have a specific answer since the appeal must be to measurable facts and data. I personally will yeild to the evidence. If you show me evidence that economic liberalism works I will be an economic liberal. Would you agree to the flip side, if conservative economic policies better improve the lot of the poor will you renounce liberalism?

    The social issues like abortion are nothing like this. Abortion is an intrinsic evil, it is morally wrong in an of itself. It is an unspeakable crime, ( as described by Vatican II) and has been called murder by Blessed John Paul II. When a political party has legalized murder, and unspeakable crime, and when this society has decided that 90% of individuals diagnosed with Down’s syndrome ( Trisomy 21) need to be killed in utero because having mental disability makes them unfit to live, than that society is becoming morally depraved. Opposing this kind of unspeakable crime than takes precedence for people like me, over any other issue. It should for you as well.

    In fact Sen Santorum was not a doctrinaire libertarian conservative, he supported some initiatives that many peace and justice Catholics should have cheered, for example he supported PEPFAR, the BUSH AIDS treatment in Africa initiative, that was much more generous than what Obama has done since, he supported restructuring third world debt, and he was relatively pro union.
    In fact he was the kind of candidate Catholics should have embraced, moderately conservative, but with views that could find support among both pro-life and Peace and Justice type folks. The fact that he was not embraced by Catholics, nor even given a word of encouragement by any Bishop publicly says more about us than him.

  • Rick Garnett

    Kathryn, I don’t think it was a misplaced “keep that God stuff private” view that kept down RS among even censer caribe-leaning Chtistians. To many of us, he presented as an unattractively petulant and small candidate, as compromised as those he indignantly railed against. And, een many conservatives were put off by his unwillingness to allow the Faith, it seemed, to add any nuance to his views on, say, immigration and interrogation.