Why Douglas Kmiec and other Catholics support Obama
By Timothy P. Carney
Sen. Barack Obama
Sen. Barack Obama

.- Barack Obama’s message of healing our cultural wounds and stressing all men’s duty to their brothers gives him a stronger appeal to Catholics than any recent Democratic nominee for President. But in the eyes of some conservative Catholics and pro-lifers, Obama’s extreme position on abortion makes him the most objectionable recent major party nominee.

As with John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000, Obama has the firm backing of liberal Catholic Democratic politicians. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), a hero to the abortion lobby and homosexual activist groups, gave Obama a boost in the primary with his endorsement and his speech at the Pepsi Center Monday was the highlight of the convention’s first night. Every Catholic Democrat in the House and Senate, as well as every Catholic governor, has endorsed Obama, in keeping with party loyalty.

Catholic delegates to the Democratic National Committee, including those who pledged to Hillary Clinton, also are lining up behind Obama.

Surprising, however, are conservative pro-life Catholics who are backing Obama. The most notable of them is constitutional law expert Doug Kmiec, a professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law.
Kmiec, a pro-lifer and an alumnus of the Reagan administration, in March endorsed Obama over McCain.

Kmiec, in Denver to speak at interfaith panels supporting Obama, spoke with Catholic News Agency Tuesday at breakfast. Kmiec openly states that Obama’s full support for legal abortion is “morally unacceptable,” but he argues that there are proportionate reasons to vote for Obama.

Pointing out that McCain has voted to use taxpayer money on embryo-destroying stem-cell research, and arguing that McCain’s pro-life efforts would end at nominating a judge who would overturn Roe v. Wade, Kmiec summed up his choices: “I’ve got an imperfect McCain and an imperfect Obama.”

Most impressive to Kmiec, Obama struck him as a sincere “bridge-builder,” trying to find common ground with those with whom he disagreed. “He’s not afraid to borrow a good idea” from conservatives and Catholics, Kmiec said, pointing to Obama’s appreciation of subsidiarity—the notion that local governments, parishes, or families—rather than the central government—are often the appropriate level at which to address problems.

For Kmiec, Obama’s disposition towards diplomacy and peace compares favorably to McCain’s general bellicosity. “Between the two candidates, I think Senator Obama is closer to the Church’s teaching than Senator McCain is.

In line with the Holy See, Barack Obama opposed U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2002 and 2003, while John McCain has long been a supporter. Democratic delegate Deborah Langhoff of New Orleans is a Catholic who favors keeping abortion legal, and she, too, points to foreign policy as a reason for Catholics to support Obama. Suggesting Obama’s foreign policy—and his notion of a fairly rapid withdrawal from Iraq—is a part of a culture of life, she told Catholic News Agency “we need to talk about the lives lost in Iraq war.’

Joshua Mercer, spokesman for the conservative Catholic advocacy group Fidelis doesn’t believe the Iraq war can outweigh abortion in this election. “When you compare the 4,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting valiantly in Iraq to the 4,000 babies who died today, it becomes clear…. Barack Obama has admirable qualities, but he advocates legal abortion for all nine months.”

Polls and recent election results present a mixed picture of Obama’s chances among Catholic voters. On the question of party loyalty, Catholics have moved towards the GOP in recent presidential elections. According to CNN’s exit polls, Bush defeated Kerry by five points, 52% to 47% in 2004; among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly, (11% of the electorate), Bush won by 13 points.

In 2006, however, Catholics aided Democrats in their sweep to control Congress: 55% of Catholics voted for the Democratic House candidate.

While winning the Democratic primaries this year, Obama performed poorly among Catholics. In the most crucial state with a large Catholic population—Pennsylvania—Obama pulled in only 30% of Catholic voters (26% of regular Mass attendees), despite the endorsement of pro-life Catholic Sen. Bob Casey (D).

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: