Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other Democrat senators released on Wednesday a controversial analysis of votes and actions of Catholic Senators based on the official positions taken on legislation by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The report analyzes votes and legislative cosponsorships for the 24 Catholic U.S. Senators regarding issues for which the USCCB has taken an official position.
The issues are broadly divided into three areas: Domestic Issues, International Issues and Pro-Life Issues.
The scorecard includes a total of 48 votes or actions Senators have taken regarding these 24 issues, 47 of which took place during the 108th Congress (2003-2004), plus the Iraqi War Resolution, which the Senate passed on October 11, 2002.
According to the scorecard, Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) all earned an overall score of greater than 60% in accordance with issues supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
There are many surprises contained in the voter guide. According to Sen. Durbin, a vote for or against the Dorgan Joint Resolution regarding broadcast media ownership is weighted equally with a vote for or against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.
And a vote for or against the Kerry National Affordable Housing Trust Fund is weighted equally with a vote for or against a ban on human cloning.
“Unfortunately, recent media attention has focused on one or two priorities of the Catholic Church, while obscuring others. This has made it more difficult for Catholic voters to understand the full range of issues that have been identified by the USCCB as priorities for public life,” said Durbin.
“What we have done today is to use the criteria established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to give voters an insight into the voting records of Catholic senators,” he added.
Durbin also said that statements by Catholic bishops about denying the sacraments to some public officials “cross the line in terms of what most Catholic Americans find acceptable regarding the relationship between their Church and their government.”
In April, Monsignor Kevin Vann, pastor of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield where Durbin used to attend, told the State Journal-Register that Durbin's “pro-choice position puts him really outside of communion or unity with the Church's teachings on life. And that's why I would be reticent to give him Holy Communion.”
The survey prompted an immediate conference call by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., a pro-life Catholic.
“This is a selective attempt to make John Kerry and a bunch of liberal Democrats who disagree with the Church's teaching look like faithful Catholics,” Santorum said.
“To suggest, as this scorecard does, that the issue of taking innocent human life is on par and has the moral equivalency of how many television stations somebody owns in Erie, Penn., is a deliberate attempt to confuse and obfuscate what is the true teaching of the Church. They are not morally equivalent issues,” he added.