Letter Calls on Catholic GOP Candidates to Stop Racial Stereotypes

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON A group of Catholic theologians and leaders of Catholic organizations called on Republican presidential candidates to "stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail."

The organization Faith in Public Life circulated the letter challenging former Rep. Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum, both Republicans and Catholics, to dial back from how they refer to the nation's first African-American president "with a title that evokes the past myth of 'welfare queens' and inflaming other racist caricatures." The group called the tactic "irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders."

Describing themselves as "Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul," the group noted that "some presidential candidates now courting 'values voters' seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn."

The letter, posted Jan. 19 on the organization's website, reminded Gingrich and Santorum that "Catholic bishops describe racism as an 'intrinsic evil' and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly one in six Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can't address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. …