Obama was elected on the economy, not on values issues, Cardinal George says

USCCB President Cardinal Francis George
USCCB President Cardinal Francis George


Early on Monday afternoon, Cardinal Francis George held a press conference where he spoke about how the U.S. bishops will engage President-elect Barack Obama’s administration and provided his analysis of the bishops’ efforts to inform Catholic voters during the election.

“Mr. Obama will be the president of the United States and of course we will do our best to help him in a formidable task,” Cardinal George said to reporters.

Along with informing the future President Obama of how the bishops can help him, Cardinal George also stated that “as we have with every president, we will indicate the areas where there is disagreement and find out if there is some possibility in dialogue of coming to procedurally a resolution that does not exclude Catholics from public life…”  

The president of the U.S. Bishops also responded to a question about the effectiveness of numerous U.S. bishops’ efforts to educate Catholics on the importance of considering a politician’s stance on abortion when voting.

When asked about the bishops’ document Faithful Citizenship, Cardinal George noted that the document provided principles, but did not tell Catholics how to vote.  He characterized the statement as good and “nuanced where it should be,” but also pointed out that the “nuances were sometimes lost when different groups took different parts of it—as often happens—and stressed one part or the other.” 

Cardinal George also expressed his view that the election of Barack Obama as president was not a vote on the values being debated in the election, but was really a vote to rescue the economy.

“How I personally think about this last election is that it’s 1932 revisited,” he said referring to the election between President Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“We have incumbent Republican president; a deep recession, if not a depression has begun, and once again the American voters have turned to another party to try to lift the country out of the present enormous economic difficulties.”

“I would agree that the economy is the foremost challenge. … The value questions are still there. The referenda on the nature of marriage was very clear in several states. … But the overall election, it seems to me, means that the American people are hoping for a government that will help them through the present economic debacle and that it will come from the Democratic Party,” he stated.

Cardinal George also commented on the status of Catholics in American society, which he said needs to change just as it has changed for blacks.

In well-received remarks made earlier on Monday to the entire assembly of bishops, the cardinal president said that “we’re not a point when Catholics can be considered full partners in the American experience unless their willing to put aside some fundamental Catholic teachings.”

“I’ve felt that for a long time.” Cardinal George said at the press conference. “And of course, the status keeps changing and it will change in the future and we’ll see in what direction that change goes.”

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