Aug 29, 2012
Worried conservatives reacted negatively to the news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York had invited Barack Obama to the Al Smith Dinner in October. But the cardinal plainly believes the invitation serves the best interests of the Church – declaring war on the President of the United States by excluding him from this politically tinged festive event would hardly be helpful.
That’s a reasonable position. But we need also to ask whether war has already been declared – not by the Church but on the Church and what it stands for. With Catholic institutions battling for survival in light of the Obama administration’s “free birth control” rule, this alarming possibility must be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Just how alarming the possibility is was underlined by a recent Pew Research Center survey covering voters’ views. I found myself wondering whether to laugh or cry when scanning the Catholic results. Then reality set in, and the answer was clear: cry of course. If these figures are correct – and there’s every reason to think they are – the Church is in deep trouble.
Some news accounts found encouragement in particular findings of the survey, but they failed to mention the finding that really catches the eye. Asked who better reflects their views on social issues like abortion and gay rights, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, 51% of Catholics said Obama, against 34% who said Romney. (For all voters, the figures were 50% and 36% respectively.)