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Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty

January 19, 2012, 4:02 pm | Posted by Kristin Ford

More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent theologians at universities across the country released a strongly worded open letter today urging “our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

In the lead up to Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa voters he doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

The open letter reminds the two presidential candidates, vying for Christian conservative voters, that U.S. Catholic bishops have called racism an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.

The full text of the statement and signatories follow.

An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum

As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.

Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (retired)

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Leadership Team:
Sisters Patricia McDermott, RSM (President) Eileen Campbell, RSM Anne Curtis, RSM Mary Pat Gavin, RSM Deborah Troillett, RSM

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF
President
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale
Associate Professor of Theology
Marquette University

Rev. Clete Kiley
Director for Immigration Policy
UNITE HERE

Rev. Anthony J. Pogorelc,  M.Div., Ph.D.
The Catholic University of America
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies

Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J.
University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice
Boston College

Sr. Patricia J. Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Marie Dennis
Co-President, Pax Christi International

Rev. John F. Kavanaugh S.J.
Professor of Philosophy
St. Louis University

Rev. Jim Keenan, S.J.
Founders Professor in Theology
Boston College

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
Senior Fellow
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Sister Mary Ellen Howard
Executive Director
Cabrini Clinic, Detroit

Rev. James E. Hug, S.J.
President
Center of Concern

Sister Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Steven Schneck
Director
Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Sister Karen M. Donahue, RSM
Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community

Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale
Assoc. Prof. of Theology
Boston College

Tom Allio
Cleveland Diocesan Social Action Director (retired)

M. Shawn Copeland
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

Sister Maria Riley, OP
Senior Advisor
Center of Concern

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair
Theology Department
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Michael E. Lee
Associate Professor
Theology Department
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Paul Lakeland
Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies
Director, Center for Catholic Studies Fairfield University

Lisa Sowle Cahill
Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

Eric LeCompte
Board Member
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University, Cincinnati

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University, Cincinnati

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Carolyn Farrell, BVM Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University, Chicago

Daniel K. Finn
Professor of Theology and Economics
St. John’s University, Minnesota

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia

Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Associate Professor of Theology
Faculty Director
Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale
Assoc. Prof. of Theology
Boston College

John Inglis
Professor and Chair
Department of Philosophy
University of Dayton

Anthony B. Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

David O’Brien
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

William L. Portier
Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology
University of Dayton

Alex Mikulich
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans

Susan M. Weishar
Migration Specialist
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor
Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

James Salt
Executive Director
Catholics United

Vincent Miller
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Fairfield University

James P. Bailey
Associate Professor
Department of Theology
Duquesne University

Rev. Raymond Kemp
Director
Preaching the Just Word
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

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104 Responses to “Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty”

  1. Gary Lockhart says:

    “More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent(sic) theologians ”

    AKA a small group of dissenters and apostates.

    • Connie says:

      A small kind voice in a symphony of public hate-speak.
      A group of brave leaders.
      Those who stand up for those who cant.
      Religous leaders that even an atheist can respect.
      Those who speak from their hearts, not thier coffers.
      The few can shame the many, IF they speak up.

    • Mike Appleton says:

      You ought to learn the definition of apostasy before you start blithely tossing it about. It’s about time that political leaders who purport to be Catholic stop treating issues of social justice as though they were products of Marxist ideology.

      • Sue FL says:

        It’s time some Catholics, such as yourself, read the Church’s entire social doctrine. It’s in the Catechism.

        • Bennie10 says:

          Please, point me to the paragraph in the Catechism that endorses racism.

          • Mercy says:

            Racism is an insult level a both catholic candidates , you and the people that sign the letter have not proof they are racist but you choose to accuse a fellow human being anyhow . That is a sin ! .

          • Lauren says:

            If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck… are you trying to convince us it’s an aardvark?

          • Walter Lewkowski says:

            Please, point me to the paragraph in the Catechism that defines racism.

    • kristin says:

      If you think 40 signatures represent only 40 people, you are sadly mistaken.

    • Mercy says:

      I agree with you Gary . This is a group of well know liberal catholic leaders . They are the enemy within.

      • Cafeteria Catholic says:

        Even though you don’t know a lick of Latin, enjoy your Tridentine Mass and politicizing your faith. The Blessed Mother weeps for you.

      • Emilio says:

        Don’t that evry true catholic will gladely sign this letter, including Jesus.

    • Todd Parker says:

      So, when the Pope released his recent encyclical on the social responsibility of governments toward the poor, was HE a ‘dissenter and an apostate’? I guess so.
      Of course, the truth is that if you are Catholic, you have NO excuse for being right-wing. We of all people should know better.

      • Mercy says:

        You neither Pax nor Christi.

      • Heartlander says:

        Socialism was responsible for the murders of nearly 100 million human beings by their own governments during the 20th century. No Catholic (or any other person of goodwill) has any business being left-wing.

    • Colin Lee says:

      If that’s what passes for your faith, then you’re already damned.

    • Jim Prichard says:

      Amen, brother!!

    • Jim Prichard says:

      You nailed it!

    • Joan Collins says:

      Yes, I so agree with you. I wonder how many of these 40 actually agree with the Church on issues such as “gay” marriage, contraception and abortion. As a black U.S. representative questioned on TV last night, “Are they speaking from the viewpoint of Christianity or Liberalism?” I strongly suspect the latter.

  2. SC Stickley says:

    If you believe only dissenters and apostates are speaking out against the stereotyping, it begs the question: where are the voices of Church leaders you recognize?

    After all last spring, Catholic bishops cautioned both houses of Congress: ” The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.”
    (Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard)

    • Thomas says:

      Being Catholic is not about recognizing or not recognizing the voices of ‘Church leaders’ as you put it.

      The authority of The Church is not sourced, but only marshaled by men. That includes the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ so to speak, and again do not fall to any men. They are clearly outlined in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, where the source of each statement is also cited fully.

      The responsibility of interpretation for anything not explicitly outlined within The Catechism falls fully upon the conscience of the individual, and is not transitive to anyone else or any Pastor, Bishop…even the Pope.

      Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich’s statements start and end with them, as do the consequences, if any, both temporal and spiritual.

      These 40 ‘Church leaders’ don’t speak as to the nature and intent of Santorum or Gingrich’s statements on behalf of The Church anymore than I speak for OPEC and the price of crude oil.

    • K. JohnsTon says:

      The answer uis that the most recognizable Church leaders’ voices are those raised in anger and dismay at divorce, homosexuality, abortion, etc.

      While I hear you, think your message is valid and needed, and agree with the sentiment of Catholic bishops, I am also a woman raised in a Catholic environment and it’s not the ethical, supportive space it could be.

      The voices of Catholics decrying racism/classism will be muted as long as they are complicit and compliant in fostering homophobia.

    • Walter Lewkowski says:

      “where are the voices of Church leaders you recognize?

      That is the big problem with the Ted Kennedy Church.

  3. Mark Landers says:

    The bishops are only interested in getting government to regulate one of their sacraments (though why just one?) and, of course, controlling the nation’s female reproductive organs. These ARE the bishops’ candidates.

  4. legacyaustin says:

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this act of righteousness. I applaud these Catholic Bishops for speaking up where they see leaders acting in ways that are divisive and hurtful.

    I saw an article that said Santorum’s plan to lift young people out of poverty centered on work, graduation and marriage before becoming parents. All of these are good principles for everyone.

    The problem arises when he (Santorum) chooses to tell folks he doesn’t want to help blacks by giving them other people’s money. And the egregiously says he didn’t use the word “black.” And when Gingrich only seems to be concerned about black kids’ work ethics and black folks who need food stamps. I’ve not heard him say the same things about everyone else who are poor and/or need food stamps.

    The issues that have led to African Americans being disproportionately poor, under-educated, suffer from disease and illnesses, etc are very complex and require well thought out solutions. I would appreciate Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich giving these issues the serious consideration they deserve.

    Right on Bishops!

    • Lisa says:

      right on legacyaustin … well said!

    • Maureen Gill says:

      I applaud this open letter to but think it should be noted that it wasn’t written by Catholic bishops. American Catholic bishops have been pathetically silent.

    • True. I want to call attention also to other marginalized segments of the population who likewise are disproportionately poor, under-educated, etc. -of any race or gender- people with differing abilities; children from low-income, often single-parent households; traumatized returning combat vets, and on and on. . . the issues truly are complex and require well-thought .out solutions. Ugly stereotyping provides no solutions at all. The memories of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Marshall Thurgood are defamed by such actions. We need genuine leadership.

    • Noel says:

      Really?

      Maybe you should also appreciate this act of righteousness.

      http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-012.cfm

    • Robert says:

      It’s disingenuous to quote Santorum as saying he doesn’t want to give black people other people’s money without also including the part where he said he wants to give them opportunities to make their own money.

  5. Peggy james says:

    Thank you God for reaching into the hearts of these people who had the courage to stand up to what is wrong in our nation. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen

  6. Kevin says:

    This is hyperbole from the self-proclaimed representatives of the Catholic church, claiming racism by taking the utterances of the GOP candidates out of context. I’m sure we could find another 45 prominent Catholics who would, in an open letter, endorse Santorum’s views on abortion as well as on social justice.

  7. CG says:

    Lest we forget the injustice of the innumerable “police actions” that do not fall under the rubric of “just war” and have been perpetuated oh-too-many years by the US and others.

    As for “apostasy” I would put forward that this term apples to Santorum and Gingrich also for ignoring the statements, re: unjust wars, of Popes Benedict and John Paul.

    I applaud the challenge above as a good start.

  8. LaurenH says:

    Mr. Santorum also said we didn’t need such programs as SSI (Supplemental Security Income ) which pays monthly benefits to low-income people who are blind, disabled or age 65 and above that these most vulnerable among us just needed to get a job. The disabled and the elderly? Healthy workers are having a difficult enough time getting and keeping a job, which employers are going to hire the elderly and disabled if they are physically or mentally able to work at all?

  9. Môlsem says:

    I am disappointed by the number of the above responses the approaches to which are to cast aspersions at the signatories of the letter. Am also disappointed by the one response that in essence says the Church is only interested in two issues. I might agree that from time to time the Church’s preoccupation with using the state to limit or prohibit what the Church sees as murder of the unborn, seems to overshadow other life concerns and other social justice issues, but murder after all is the most serious offense.

    Be that all as it may, that tempest obscures the Church’s more quiet yet equally persistent effort to induce the Congress and the States to see to the common good, on the grounds that private charity is not adequate to meet the needs. I would add that the needs do not scatter themselves across the landscape in proximity to the charitably inclined who are funded to be so.

    And I defy anyone to find anything in the teachings of Jesus taken in context that supports the gross disparities in wealth and income that have appeared in the United States over the last three decades. And I am very upset with former Speaker Gingrich who implies that anyone who wants to can readily find a job that would earn him or her enough to be ineligible for food stamps. As noted by our author, there are 4 jobless people for each 1 job opening these days. That fails to note the additional concern that those 4 people may not live anywhere near that 1 job. There may be 20 unemployed people to each job in small town Montana, 30 unemployed people to each job in NYC, and 4 jobs for each unemployed person in Miami, FL.

    In short, in their constant advocacy of policies which will defend and further enrich the already rich, and their dissing of programs for the less fortunate, these two candidates are violating Jesus’ most commonly taught policy, reflecting his being a devout Jew, as he time and again brought up that policies must favor the child, the widow, the orphan, the outcast, the stranger … and let’s not get started here on the strangers from across the southern border.

  10. Jenifer Markoe says:

    As a catholic I was taught that there was no place for racial stereotypes. That we are all God’s children no matter what color are skin was. While the church has been very vocal on the protection of the unborn, they have been almost mute for those who are struggling to live day to day. We as a country has become hateful to those who are differant, struggling with proverty or has someother difficulty. I feel it is the responsiblity for all church leaders to teach and remind all Catholics that these stereotypes and there language that some of are Catholics who running for elected office is unexceptable. We as a society are losing are selves to the hate and greed that we are bombards with daily. I hope the church will be more vocal in the future then just this letter about these types of stereotype comments and the unjustice they bring to are society

    • Dan says:

      How much do Catholic Charities, St Vincent de Paul and the Knights of Columbus spend on helping the disadvantaged each year?

  11. Theodore Sporer says:

    This is maybe the most shallow and mindless display of race baiting I may ever have seen.

    Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum’s statements neither racial, much less racist, nor divisive

    Do the bishops and their supporters and fellow intellectual travelers feel welfare dependence and food stamp subsistence living are good for the dependents or the society that supports them? Wouldn’t a job and a paycheck have greater practical benefits for the individual and the larger society? Wouldn’t self reliance be considered of greater moral worth (feed a man a fish…teach him how to fish dichotomy is mentioned somewhere in some religous text somewhere I think), unless, of course, you all are providing a true glimmer in your liberal souls and admitting that maximum dependence is the objective of the liberal welfare state.

    Can anyone actually identify the objectionable statement or statements that even implicates race and and is sourced to either Newt or Ricky S?

  12. Maxim G. Maw says:

    It is everybody’s individual responsibility to speak up when mortal sins are being committed; it is not acceptable to deny responsibility because the person who reminds you of your obligations has no earthly dominion over you. Messrs. Gingrich and Santorum are appealing to the baser elements of human nature, demeaning other human beings, and denying succor to those among us who are powerless, and need assistance and comfort. There is no political, humanitarian, religious, or philosophical principle or doctrine that can withstand scrutiny, to support superiority of the individual, white supremacy, enslavement of another, poverty, hunger and disease.

  13. Frank Blank says:

    Santorum and Gingrich are fake Christians. As are 90% of right wing evangelicals and the rest of republican christians. They worship Mammon and, not surprisingly, lend succor to other members of their cult.

  14. DavEugPatt says:

    Prof. John Boswell3, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

    These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

    Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.

    Same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe list in great detail some same gender ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents. One Greek 13th century rite, “Order for Solemn Same-Sex Union”, invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, and called on God to “vouchsafe unto these, Thy servants [N and N], the grace to love one another and to abide without hate and not be the cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God, and all Thy saints”. The ceremony concludes: “And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded”.

    Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic “Office of the Same Sex Union”, uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands. After kissing the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

    Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the 18th century.

    The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books, “Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

    • nosleepma says:

      I’ve never heard any of that and I find it facinating! Is there documentation anywhere, aside from the Vatican? I would love to see further research and read more about it. Thanks.

  15. James says:

    Someone forgot to tell these guys that Ron Paul is the racist.

  16. Nancy says:

    Academics and Religious Sisters: the true soul of the Church. Too bad there is such a disconnect between these and the Church Hierarchy — the outer facade of the Catholic Church: Wine and skins: Think about it.

  17. Maureen Gill says:

    This letter is wonderful but it’s largely meaningless for several reasons. First, it has no influence over either Gingrich or Santorum; it lacks authority. Secondly, the battle needs to be taken to the Catholic voters and that can’t be done from behind the lectern but only from the pulpit. The average Catholic needs to hear this message from the hierarchy and the local parish priests.

    The failure of the church has been that it has focused for far too long, and far too aggressively, on abortion to the near exclusion of larger, more complex social issues. Abortion is but a symptom of an immoral world. Stop banning the symptom and start working to cure the larger problems of economic injustice, sexism, racism, etc.

    I’d sure like to see a letter like this one being written to the bishops and parish priests challenging them to redirect their efforts toward economic justice instead of their near obsessive attention to abortion.

  18. Thurgood Marshall. It’s past midnight, but social injustice is keeping me awake.

  19. Ken Ekland says:

    The racism, bigotry, and pure hate on display during the Republican presidential debates have been quite a spectacle. But should this be any surprise, coming as it does from the only political party in the entire western world which is a proponent of torture? The party that’s pro-war, pro-death penalty and anti-universal health care? The party that has acted across the country to deprive 10s of millions of Americans of their right to vote? The party which would take the common wealth of the nation and hand it over to a select few? Since this party has absolutely nothing to offer Americans of ordinary means and influence (sorry, being nominally anti-abortion hardly qualifies as being pro-life), the Republican Party can only appeal to the fearful, the igorant and the haters. The party is a disgrace to itself and to the country.

  20. kristin says:

    Finally, someone points out that saying your a person of faith is entirely different than living out the commands of Jesus. The 25th Chapter of Matthew is one that Santorum and Gingrich clearly missed.

  21. Bob Klingle says:

    Not a Bishop in the lot!
    If they were Democrats the Bishops would have been on them like stink on a shunk a long time ago.
    I have almost had it with the Bishops.

    I am sutre they have been bought and paid for.

    • P.A. says:

      I agree. I am beyond disgusted with many of the Bishops.

    • John McG says:

      Although I am more or less on your side, I have to point out that one of the signatories is a Cardinal and anothr is a retired member of the NCCB.
      Having said that, I think their focus seems to be on out-of-context statements made by both of these Catholic politicians. As another coment states, Santorum’s remark was coupled with his wish to help everyone get a good job.

  22. motherseer says:

    There is certainly plenty to criticize the Church for in any area pertaining to sexuality. The point here, though, is that they have at last highlighted what those of us on the Catholic Left have been saying for years about so-called “religious” politicians & indeed all on the “religious right”: “Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.” If these candidates want to claim their “faith guides them” on matters of policy, then they have to accept all the guiding, not just that on abortion & LGBT issues. The Catholic Church is clearly and thoroughly a social justice church, and has called for the “redistribution of wealth” – that phrase that the right love to “accuse” the Obama administration of desiring – in a papal edict. The positions of the Church in social & economic justice areas has been clear and consistent. While we Catholics on the so-called left struggle with the Church’s policies that relate to sexuality, Catholics who embrace right-wing politics seem to pretend that the Church’s policies with which they disagree don’t even exist.

  23. Alisa says:

    Nice to see Catholic leaders speaking out for the politicians who try to speak for them. JFK was Catholic but he did not let it rule him when he was running the country.

    • P.A. says:

      Jackie Kennedy said that she couldn’t understand why people made such a fuss about her husband being a Catholic and commented “after all, he’s such a poor Catholic.”… What with his drug use (oot) and extramarital affairs, some of which took place in the bed he shared with his wife, I wouldn’t use him as an example of a Catholic. Unless you want to put him in the same category as some of the signers of this letter. I bet a lot of them supported Obama and Obamacare. Unfortunately, it has come back to bite them in the you know what now that Catholic institutions will be forced to offer birth control and sterilization as part of their employee’s health insurance plan.

  24. datechguy says:

    A Cafeteria Catholic list if I ever saw one

  25. Eleanor says:

    While I applaud this small group of dissenters, I still find this selective criticism quite hypocritical. How about the environment? How about poverty in general? How about being divorced how many times? Seriously? Preaching morals has it’s place, but without consistency it all seems hypocritical to me. Frankly, we can still allow women the right to make decisions about their own bodies and do everything we can to help women make pro-life choices. But I do understand that argument at least. What I don’t understand is inconsistency. I was raised Catholic and love the community, but have completely lost faith in the institution.

  26. Eleanor says:

    Maureen Gill I completely agree with you!!! I would even take it further. The Church has lost it’s way. I’m afraid it won’t find it’s way again until it looks itself in the mirror and does some soul searching to figure out how it lost it’s integrity over the years. Mistakes like the decisions made in the handling of the child molestation cases, for example, are just a reflection of deep-rooted problems, denial, etc. Leadership without character is pointless.

  27. I want to say: “THANK YOU”, to each of these 40 Catholic Leaders! I thank them not just because they affirm our moral imperative of compassion and respect for all people, but because they dared to shine the light of truth against the shadows of racist euphemisms and bigoted codewords that provide plausible deniability for what increasingly seems to be a renewed call-to-arms to the more destruction natures of our great country.

    We, as a community, need to do better at speaking out against such behavior. Perhaps, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich just want to be President more than anything. Perhaps they even think they will make a greater America; but greater for who and at what cost? Unquestionably, words have power, but words are not redeemed when used as an evil means toward a desired end. An excerpt from the classic novel “1984” by George Orwell, as history is rewritten by those in power presents this insight: “’Who controls the past, controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.’” I consider this a compelling warning that those who would follow the right path in each generation should heed.

    Negative stereotypes as slogans against minority groups are a time-honored shame, no matter how charismatic the speaker. And, we need to speak out! To paraphrase the English philosopher Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Thank You, Catholic Leaders, for taking a stand! I have rarely, if ever, been so PROUD to be a Catholic!
    .

  28. John says:

    Have the “Catholic Leaders” written an open letter to all of the liberal-secular progressives in politics who support the murder of the unborn? Adults of all races and creeds at least have a chance to defend/take care of themselves.

  29. Jim Duley says:

    Thank you all, Catholic leaders, for standing up against racism. Your words reflect the teaching of Christ, unlike those of the candidates who directly or indirectly support bigotry toward non-whites. Only when the “religious right” finally understand how they have strayed from the path Christ taught will this country begin to be united.

  30. paul says:

    thank you so much for this.

  31. Catholic Conservative says:

    Ask yourself this. Is it justified for someone to rob your house if you make more money for them so you can pay for your childs healthcare? No. Then why is it okay for the Government. Their is alot more anti christian bigotry than anything and this group is 40 our populaton is 300,000,000 and there are 1 billion catholics in the world give me a break. An for people who actually understand free market economics you would know that economic freedom works. You think the government solves everything thats such an easy answer “lets just give them this and then everythings solved give money to poor an they wont be poor anymore” Left liberals are the same people who criticize free market but have never read an economics textbook, criticize reliion but never read the bible, criticize life but never experienced it. The catholic church is the biggest donor but doesnt give out paychecks. The bible never says to give money to the poor it says to help the poor. You need to understand that this aid causes dependency and locks poverty.

    • Jonathan James says:

      Interestingly a free market economy has never worked . . . it was in operation in the dark ages, and it’s in effect right now. It is a pipe dream that the system will regulate itself, and the reasons are far to obvious to go into here. Let it be said that the result of a “free market” economy has always been, and will always be, the creation of an extremely wealthy very small minority who do and will control the rest of the economy to their advantage. There will always be high unemployment i this kind of economy because it forces wages down and profits up . . . profits not gained from job creation but “investments”, like Enron. We like a society with a ruling class, and tis is pretty much what happens in a free market; and even tough we all aspire to become a part of that “upper scab” (sorry, “crust”) we will not and cannot make it because of the “Free Market” economy. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, said it best: the purpose of government is to regulate business. In that vein, the true purpose of these religious teaching is to restore that basic tenet to its rightful place, so that the least of us, and they aren’t just black, Puerto Rican, Mexican, etc., have a chance at a better life.

    • Bernadette says:

      St. Thomas Aquinas disagrees with you.

      “Things which are of human right cannot derogate from natural right or Divine right. Now according to the natural order established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the purpose of succoring man’s needs by their means. Wherefore the division and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude the fact that man’s needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose [Loc. cit., 2, Objection 3] says, and his words are embodied in the Decretals (Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): “It is the hungry man’s bread that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you store away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man’s ransom and freedom.”

      Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is impossible for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one is entrusted with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of them he may come to the aid of those who are in need. Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another’s property, by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery.” http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3066.htm

  32. Larry says:

    These two claim to be pro life, yet they want to bomb Iran, killing millions. Then another candidate talks about the Golden Rule and gets booed. The morality of this country is slipping away.

  33. patrick says:

    Sometimes. I think in the our Father Jesus meant by “as we forgive the debts of others” a reallt literal and earhty sense: the good old testament jubilee. I wonder if that is a better answer and it would surely abolish the power of the banks and lenders in this country! Now that would be some real deal rabble rousing!

  34. glynn surdivall says:

    Ron Paul’s policies will solve most of the above mentioned problems of America.

  35. Mercy says:

    All I read is a bunc of people who are oppose to the magisterium of the church , I hope and pray you have the courage to change your ways . Abortion and same sex marriage are wrong even if you say is not .

  36. Mercy says:

    You are neither Pax nor Christi

    • disgrazia4 says:

      I say this gently and respect for your love in The Faith but your rigid hold (white knuckled grip perhaps) on the laws is more characteristic of a Pharisee than of our Lord. Remember when He was asked about the most important one of all …

      As for me, I would rather eat with the sinners than take a seat at the table of Pharisees.

  37. Mike McLaren says:

    Isn’t it interesting that it’s the tolerant liberals who automaticly think African American when we bring up the issue of food stamps. Could someone tell me again who the racists are?

  38. TomKumar says:

    Yes— this letter by so-called “Catholic leaders” (who says so?) stands as solid evidence of the sad state of Catholic higher education. How smug they are!

  39. Jude says:

    This is not a stance on those candidates, but a reminder that they must start reflecting their believes in their political positions. This is no different then our position on abortion. But the response by many is that this is a left wing attack. So if this is the case, it is right on the mark; just as the right wing attacks on those who advocate against life. These are all life issues. Wake up and stop believing that you can pick and chose who’s life to defend. We are called to stand up for what is right. This will include political criticism of those who do not, regardless if they are from either party or any ideological perspective.

  40. Mary M says:

    Gingrich and Santorum are not racists. Someone finally has the guts to speak up and out and now we have a statement from 40 “prominent Catholics”….from Boston College, et al. Give me a break! My parents came to this country as immigrants many years ago. They worked hard and believed in the American dream. They did not look to government to support them year after year. What Santorum said about women making a decision to not have children before marriage is critical. Many are living in poverty because of their poor choices. You need to reorient your life and make good choices to pull yourself out of poverty. I don’t think that makes Santorum or anyone a racist who articulates that. Nor is it racist for Gingrich to call Obama the food stamp President. America has become the land of entitlement instead of the land of opportunity. It’s time for change.

  41. Mary M. – you are reminded that some people never got much chance to make their choices, poor choices or otherwise. Remember when Jesus was questioned about the disabled man : who had sinned, this man or his parents? Neither, but that the works of God might be made manifest.
    However, let’s all reflect on the larger perspective that whoever gets into office is not the be-all and the end-all. Of course, it is my responsibility to vote, and work towards social justice, but remember that when Jesus was tempted by Satan, Satan showed him the kingdoms of the world, and all their glory. Satan said he would give all that to Jesus, if Jesus would do an act of worship to Satan. Jesus declined. The inference is that the kingdoms of the world and all their glory were Satan’s to award. Has that changed since those days? What are the implications for today’s governments?
    Regardless, we as Christ’s people must work to alleviate suffering, as He instructed us to do, regardless of who wins what election. Even if our leaders spout hateful rhetoric and foster oppressive policies, Christ’s mission will go forward. Christ described the poor as “blessed”. And they are not just waiting for a handout, or for censure, or to have a good work done unto them – they are waiting for God’s justice, as we all are.

  42. Mary says:

    Thank you Catholic brothers and sisters for standing up for starving children, mothers (including mothers who refused to abort under severe pressure), elders, war veterans and victims, homeless, ill, and disabled persons, and the overworked yet underpayed. It is you who ameliorate the negligence of bishops and the depravity of politicians as you seek to remove the nails of oppression from the hands and feet of the living and bleeding Christ. in our midst. Deo gratias! May he bless you a thousand times for your courage to resist the plague of modern fascism propagated by the arrogance of the well and reliably fed. And may I eat tomorrow or the next day.

  43. Blackman says:

    It’s funny how some of these posts suggest the 40 Catholics are the enemy within. It’s amazing how anyone could embrace racism as if slavery never happened. Then skip over the fact that The United States of American embraced slavery for 350 years. Then revert back to those time just because an African American is currently President. I urge everyone to denounce racism in its more dog whistle form to the outright natural of saying I hate black people because they are black.
    The repuks have reverted back to the 1800′s to remind all whites black humans were nothing compared to them.
    While the media stands buy and embraces racial hatred in its dormant form.

  44. R Plavo says:

    What did Gingrich say we do to our enemies? “kill them”; what does Jesus say we do to our enemies?……

  45. dennis says:

    It is good to know that some Christians are not whacked out.

  46. Teresa B. says:

    I see a list of priests, nuns and theologians.
    I thought this was going to be a list of Catholic Leaders.
    BTW, I wonder how many of these “catholic leaders” are in Washington, DC today for the ultimate Social Justice protest.

  47. Are these the same religous who voted for Obama?. What are they doing about Pelosi, Sobelious, Bidon and many other Catholics who are in Government and supporting the killing now of 54 million in 30 years. And look at the decision this maverick president laid out today requiring the Catholic hospitals and charities to supply contreceptives and perform abortions. I’am dismayed by the priests and nuns who voted for this President and continue to support his lies, his lack of leadership and constant blaming others. You keep this action up and there will not be the enough to supply all the needs of the poor, somebody has got to have the jobs and make the money you need to be kept in your current state. We need the Lord’s help and blessing for our Country. I don’t see any of the Bishops agressively calling for Repentance and Prayer to turn this country around.

  48. john guevremont says:

    Sadly, the signatories to this letter have consumed vast quantities of the repudiated (by the last Popes) Liberation Theology cool-aid. Christ warned his people about false prophets and the red flashing warning lights are popping off! And no, there is nothing in what either Gingrich or Santorum have said in their speaches or in private that is anywhere near divisive rhetoric (liberal code for “anyone who disagrees with the Democrat agenda). As long as the true causes for the plight of the minorities is ignored, their condition will never be improved.

  49. Matt says:

    I see absolutely nothing racist in their comments. If you come from a perspective that sees racism in very corner, then no wonder….

    The Gospel is a personal document. The government shouldn’t redistribute wealth, bureaucratic systems such as the gov’t are not up to the task. *I* have a personal responsibility to feed the hungry etc. I won’t and can’t abdicate that personal duty to a nameless faceless bureaucracy, especially one that sees no problem with the murder of fetuses.

    The simplistic view of the blameless poor is simply not fully compatible with reality. After all, the poor are subject to the ravages of Original Sin too. A worldview that ignores the obvious truth that humans simply do not value that which is given away is doomed to make overly simplistic and therefore flawed decisions. Pointing this out is not racist, it is virtuous in this time dominated by political correctness that they are willing to speak the obvious but unpopular truth. Organizations that can factor this in, regarding allocation of scarce resources, will do more good in aggregate. The government certainly is not the organization that can do this. Catholic Charities on the other hand….

  50. Jim Prichard says:

    The letter is shameful! The racism that is implied in its text exists only in the minds of those who signed it. Neither Republican candidate ever implied any racism and were merely exposing the failed social policies of the president, who is himself a racist. How pathetic to have members of the religous life use their status as such to make such a misguided political statement. God forgive them…

    • Richard Willmer says:

      @ Jim Prichard
      On what grounds do you, who criticize allegations of racism by others, accuse Barack Obama of being a racist?

  51. Richard Willmer says:

    It is entirely appropriate for stereotypes to be challenged, and often shrill nature of Gingrich’s and Santorum’s campaign is, in my view, worthy of censure.

    Given Santorum’s alleged involvement with O’Neal Dazier in the Floria campaign, I would agree with another commenter here that the stereotyping of Muslims and homosexual persons should also be vigorously challenged at this point.

    The Pope himself has described homophobia as ‘deplorable’ and something that ‘threatens the most fundamental principles of a healthy society’. It is also utterly contrary to core Christian values to make crass generalizations about people of other faiths.

  52. dg says:

    A rampant welfare state does the poor no favors. Nor does outsourcing charity to the government. Must be nice to think those tax dollars are helping but the problem of trusting care to a bureaucracy is the current fraudulent system in which the truly needy lose out to the opportunists.

  53. John Coleman says:

    The recent letter from responsible Catholic Leaders is truly disgusting. I would like to remind these so-called learned folks that as Church leaders, they have a greater responsibility to feed the poor and hungry than the Government. Just remember that no where in history has a government made its people stronger by giving them more. A government makes its people stronger by providing opportunities for them to excel.

  54. Heartlander says:

    Shame on the drafters and signatories of this letter, who I believe are committing the sin of “bearing false witness.” Neither Gingrich nor Santorum has said anything the least bit racist, and it really angers me to see people — especially supposed Christians — drag their names through the mud.

    Gingrich is rightly outraged that Barack Obama and his administration stubbornly pursue policies that are putting more and more Americans, of every color, on food stamps. As for Rick Santorum, the whole reason he entered politics in the first place was his concern for those in poverty. His concern for the poor has motivated his policies throughout his entire career.

    It’s disgusting that people calling themselves Catholic would besmirch these two caring men just to promote their own Democrat/leftist agenda.

  55. Jean says:

    Those who signed work for institutions or organizations that are Catholic in name only.

    Many signers are faculty and staff from schools such as Boston College, Notre Dame, and Georgetown. Sad to say, but you won’t find any of the schools these signers work for in “The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.” (Most Catholic colleges in the U.S. have long since abandoned Catholic teaching and theology, which is why the guide was put out).

    Also,

    Pax Christi – liberal social justice group

    Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good— a campaign organization and not a non-partisan advocate of Catholic Social Teaching that received money from George Soros

    Catholics United – their executive director has worked with progressive Catholic peace and justice organizations and he himself worked for Pax Christi

    Sr. Simone Campbbell – radical nun who endorsed a Planned Parenthood bailout bill.

    Sr. Karen Donahue—another radical social justice advocate

    (Ooh…don’t get me started on the nuns who signed. You won’t find any of them in habits and many of them oppose the church’s teaching on the ordination of women among other things. They can’t be very great theologians if they don’t understand the theology behind an all-male priesthood.)

    The list is littered with pseudo-catholic organizations. And there are many. I’m surprised I didn’t see Catholics for Choice on this list.

  56. Walter Lewkowski says:

    Why are these people entitled Catholic LEADERS?

    There is not a working parish priest among them. There is not a parish priest that works among the hard working middle class Catholics that go to Mass and contribute in the collection basket each Sunday.

    These are the new breed of Catholics that lack the intellectual confidence to stand up against the organized anti-Catholics community that currently rules America and has impose an anti-Catholic culture on America.

    Real Catholics are tired of the soi-disant Catholic leaders that do not see Affirmative Action as a social injustice, that are silent when our men are beaten and killed, our women are raped and murdered, (on college campuses yet), that were silent when our neighborhoods were destroyed, that do not speak out against Rap, promiscuous sex, government sponsored homosexuality, President’s Obama’s pro-abortion agenda.

    And now some politicians mentions the fact that Blacks may not be angels theses intellectual cowards become apoplectic and are fall over one another to tell White people that they are morally bankrupt because they do not worship the liberal new god, the god of anti-Racism.

  57. John Coleman says:

    For Heartlander: I totally agree with your comments and that the participants in this letter are only advancing a leftist agenda. I am also outraged that they do this under the banner of “Catholic” since many Catholics do not agree with this position. They would be more accurate to issue this under a banner of “Leftist-Pinheads Anonymous” (LPAs). Lets hear it for the LPAs–RAH RAH RAH!!!

    For Jean: Your comments about Catholic colleges is unfortunately very true. Georgetown sold out when they removed Christian symbols for our Leftist president’s appearance. And of course Notre Dame denigrated itself by conferring a Doctorate on our President who did nothing to deserve the honor.

    BTW, why did this group of letter signers not make any mention of the current administration’s stand on abortion and right to life, which is far more critical than any alleged comments about racism. For all of their knowledge, they don’t appear to be quite bright.

  58. bgwarb says:

    What shocks me is the anger and venom being spewed by posters here. The posturing…the divisiveness of language is appalling. What ever happened to civil discourse? Love thy brother? Peace be with you?

  59. Steve Wright says:

    These two men are being racist because they know that there is a racist population in our country who despise our president for the color of his skin.

    Raciscm is bad. It is immoral. I am totally perplexed by a response that criticizes a group of 40 devout people for decrying racism.

  60. JJ says:

    Becomes at a point when one has had enough of this so called civility from these so called leaders. What have these leaders been doing for America? It looks to me that they are a good part of the problem. If you want to be activists with some true meaning for God and the country why don’t you speak out on Abortion, Gays and same sex marriage, degradation of school text books and curriculum. Obama care requirement to Catholic hospitals, clinics now being required in the near future to perform abortions and supply contraceptives. This happens even after the Bishops met with and requested a waiver from the requirements. None of you talk about Pelosi, Biden, Sebelius promoting Abortion openly and thumbing there nose at the church, what disgraceful Catholics and so called political leaders. Wonder what Jesus is thinking or What will he do?? America is on the wrong path and we better wake up quickly to change direction. Lord Jesus help us as we thank you for your action on the cross for all man kind and your resurrection to the judgement seat. Help us again Jesus as we have lost our way….

  61. Rodney Smith says:

    (sigh) I knew better before I decided to read the threads related with this article, and I largely discovered what I expected. The resulting comments quickly devolved to the usual ad hominem, Obama is the anti-Christ, those people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, there is no racism, rhetoric. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson,or the “Secret Muslim Society” yet. In my 50 plus years of life as a natural born African-American citizen whose family has been here since the early 1800s, there are 3 points that have existed in regards to politics since I’ve been old enough to be aware of them. And for the record that was with the Goldwater-Johnson election. That’s about as far back as my memory goes in this regard. 1) Race has mattered in every presidential and major gubernatorial election since I’ve been alive because: 2) when people of color couldn’t be keep out of the electoral process via aggressive opposition including the use of deadly force, they have been used as a tool to either split the vote or wooed to push a candidate over the top in “closely contested” areas and 3) When #2 was not in play, people of color have been used as a selling point by candidates to curry favor by pointing out that they were not “with those people and will speak the ‘hard truths’ about them ” in some manner or, cast them as an internal enemy to be fought off. If you want a sure Amen! from a good percentage of the populace there is no more sure way to garner it. The perennial typecasting and generalized is insulting and hurtful whether or not it seems so from your particular perspective. The candidates may or may not have linked what they said with other “positive” comments but the question remains, why did they have to start from the negative in the first place? The issue to be crude is that since we “all look alike”, the effort to discern differences among people of color is pretty nil. I’ve always worked, paid my taxes, made education a priority with my children, etc., and despite following these societal “rules” like “everyone else, Newt, Rick, and some of their followers would see me and my color walking down the street and immediately see me as part of all that is wrong with America at face value, pun intended. And that’s the problem I have with all this “soft bigotry.” I am longing for the day when candidates can or will speak primarily to what values, skills, intellect, and vision they can bring to the office they seek, without having to mention ANY group of people negatively (either in code–and due to racist views, a reference to food stamps immediately goes to an image of people of color on Public Assistance, etc.) or overtly in order to boost their position. You may disagree or be neutral on the matter but over 5 decades I’ve totally lost my sense of humor about this dynamic and thoroughly disapprove of using one-sided truths and inferences, intentional or subliminal, about the “other” for advantage.

  62. Sean says:

    My fear as a former student and current student loan payment maker of a Jesuit University is that these leaders are using this opportunity to push their agenda. I absolutely agree with their point on the candidates, but I do not believe the church should be involved. I admire the priests and laymen in my parish that serve the community and give to charitable organizations they believe in.

    As a young Catholic what pushed me away from the church was the $100,000 education I personally paid for at a Catholic institution. The administration was distant, secretive, and when it served their interest claimed to be un-Catholic to secure public funds for development.

    The Church I admire is the humble and caring role models in my local parish, not the political or academic power players that have an “agenda.”

  63. Richard Willmer says:

    I am perplexed by the content of some of the more ‘vociferous’ comments here.

    Two points:-
    1. The authors of this letter have not suggested that they are ‘in favour’ of abortion, so I do not understand why people are mentioning this issue. In fact they make clear that (and I quote) ‘defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn’. Thus they uphold the central moral principle of our faith.
    2. The authors are not advocating any particular policy in relation to how to tackle poverty. Rather they are expressing their opposition to stereotyping.

    Stereotyping is always wrong. It undermines respect for human dignity and does not serve the common good. Period.

  64. Yossi Lopez-Hineynu says:

    Beautiful, but where are the bishops and why not call these two out on their homophobia/heterosexism?

  65. nance krause says:

    Perhaps the Holy Spirit has found that we have hardened our hearts. As St Theresa says , God has no hands or heart or voices except ours.