Catholic Pundits Examine Issues Surrounding Church-Politics Debate
By Mark Lombard
CHESTNUT HILL, Feb.28, 2006 (www.catholic.org) – The Catholic Church can play a more significant role in public discourse, a presence now dominated by the abortion and life issues, according to U.S. Catholic political analysts from across the conservative-liberal spectrum who gathered at Boston College here Feb. 27.
Almost 6,000 people attended the 90-minute panel discussion, "Catholic Politicians in the U.S.: Their Faith and Public Policy," at the Silvio O. Conte Forum here. The event also was simultaneously Webcast for those unable to attend.
The event, featuring five Catholic journalists and commentators, was sponsored by the college’s Church in the 21st Century Center.
The wide-ranging discussion, moderated by Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press" and political analyst for "NBC Nightly News" and "The Today Show," touched issues including euthanasia, same-sex marriage, economic policy, war and peace, federal funding of stem cell research and the Terri Schiavo end-of-life case as well as the nation’s changing voting patterns, role of the church in society and public policy and the connection between Catholic faith and practice by the faithful.
But it was abortion, Democratic Catholic politicians, Catholic bishops’ denial of communion to pro-choice candidates and the Catholic voter that took center stage.
When the issue of religion and politics gets raised “what we’re talking about is abortion,” said Democratic political strategist and news commentator James Carville.
While asserting that the teachings of the Catholic Church line up closer to the Democratic Party than the Republican and that the vast majority of Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances, he said that “every day, Catholics prove that you can be a good Catholic and a good Democrat and have a different position than the church on abortion.”
Yet, Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal columnist and former Republican presidential assistant, pointed to the estimated 40 million abortions in the United States since it became legal and the “40 million people who are not here.”