Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Time to Rework Politics of Catholic Leaders

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Time to Rework Politics of Catholic Leaders

Article excerpt

In the wake of the recent presidential election, one has to wonder if certain bishops and their friends among the religious right will convene for an assessment of what happened to the vaunted "Catholic vote."

It appears that once again all the gambles taken on behalf of opposing abortion above everything else came up empty.

The bishops rallied in Washington and led a massive post card campaign after President Bill Clinton vetoed the late-term abortion bill.

Cardinal John O'Connor of New York refused to invite Clinton, as is the long-standing tradition, to the Al Smith dinner because of that veto.

O'Connor and fellow Cardinal James Hickey of Washington lent their weight to a conservative Catholic group, the Catholic Campaign for America, which was basically organized to raise the antiabortion ante in the presidential election. The Catholic Campaign, in turn, was intimately tied up with the rather intolerant, radical right politics of Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition, the Protestant evangelical group that this year made a highly touted but largely unsuccessful bid to lure in a contingent of Catholic voters.

Reed, of course, runs the political arm of the theologically fundamentalist empire of TV evangelist Pat Robertson. The good cardinals, along with some other high profile and distinguished Catholic conservatives, were all wrapped into this rather unseemly political juggernaut.

One presumes all of that helped set the atmosphere for extremists like the priest who did radio spots or retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip Hannan of Louisiana, who boldly pronounced that Catholics could not vote for Clinton (see page 6). …

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