Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
24

Who Will Protect Catholics from Rick Santorum?

Rick Santorum, eager to show that he will stand up for Catholic values, has been saying things about the recent Health and Human Services regulation that now requires Catholic universities and hospitals to provide access to contraception and the morning-after pill. Santorum has accused the Obama administration of being "hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians and specifically Catholics.” He's even gone so far as to vow that he "will make it an issue every day of this campaign," until the Obama administration reinstates conscience protections. Santorum has also spoken up forcefully against same-sex marriage, which the Pope has—yes, again—recently condemned (in some really extreme terms, too).

Santorum further complained that "[The current administration] are folks who are trying to use their power to force people to do things that they believe they should do and are right. They don’t care about their religion."

But you know who does care about religion? Rick Santorum! In fact, let's take a look at how most of Rick Santorum's stated political views are truly representative of the Catholic Church and Catholic voters!

On man-made climate change:

"I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understood just from science, there are 100 factors that influence the climate, to suggest one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor…. And yet we have politicians running to the ramparts, unfortunately politicians that happen to be running for the Republican nomination of the president who buy into manmade global and bought into cap and trade. Congressman Gingrich and Gov. Romney both supported the idea of manmade global warming and in fact cap and trade; I never did. And unless the science is such that it is a heck of a lot better than what we see today, I won’t.” —Rick Santorum

"I hope that all members of the international community can agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations….In fact, it is by now evident that there is no good future for humanity or for the earth unless we educate everyone toward a style of life that is more responsible toward the created world." Pope Benedict XVI

On intelligent design:

"Well maybe the science points to the fact that maybe science doesn't explain all these things. And if it does point to that, then why don't you pursue that? But you can't, because it's not science, but if science is pointing you there how can you say it's not science? It's worth the debate." — -Rick Santorum

"If the model proposed by Darwin is held to be inadequate, one should look for another model. But it is not correct methodology to stray from the field of science pretending to do science…Intelligent design does not belong to science and there is no justification for the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside the Darwinian explanation." — -L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

On the death penalty:

"When there is certainty, that's the case that capital punishment can be used. If there is not certainty, under the law, it shouldn't be used." —Rick Santorum

"There is no room for supporting the death penalty in today's world." — -Tommaso Di Ruzza, desk officer at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

and

Addressing the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome on November 30th, 2011: Pope Benedict XVI stated that he hoped their discussions (organized under the theme "No Justice Without Life") "will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty.”

On illegal immigrants:

"You can't be here for 20 years and commit only one illegal act … because everything you're doing while you're here is against the law….I understand Congressman Gingrich saying, 'Well, you know, people have been here and they've been good citizens and paying taxes.' Yeah, under somebody else's Social Security number because you stole it." —Rick Santorum

"The Catholic Church’s approach to immigration is not about politics or economics. It is rooted in the vision of human society that was taught to us by Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church, from the time of the first Pentecost, has been a family of nations. By definition, the Catholic Church is universal, one family of God drawn from all nations, peoples, and languages….The point is that in the Catholic Church and in the eyes of God, no one is a stranger or an alien. As a pastor, I am deeply concerned about the costs of this impasse in the lives of millions of men, women, and children. Not just the souls of the 12 million without papers who are living at the margins of our society. I am worried about their physical, moral, and spiritual health. When you are a stranger in a strange land — and unwanted — you are easy prey for exploitation. But more than that. When you are a stranger who is despised, it gets harder every day to hold onto your cultural identity, your moral compass, your religion, your dignity. You start to believe what people say about you — that you are no good." —Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

On diplomatic relations with Iran:

"I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes." —Rick Santorum

"Vatican officials have said privately that on the question of Iran the Holy See supports the position of the IAEA, which has called on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, allow more international inspections and work more cooperatively with the international community to certify that its nuclear development is strictly for peaceful purposes. The officials have also said the Vatican would view outside military intervention in Iran as morally unjustifiable and impractical." —Catholic News Service Report

On poverty:

"I don't want to make [black or possibly 'blah'] people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families." —Rick Santorum

"We've gotta block-grant [food stamps] and send it back to the states, just like I did with welfare reform — do the same thing with Medicaid, including housing programs, block-grant them, send them back to the states, require work, and you put a time limit on it….We'll help take these programs, which are now dependencies, and you help people move out of poverty." —Rick Santorum

"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." —Letter signed by over 40 Catholic leaders and theologians.


So: Rick Santorum is succeeding in standing up for two stated values of the Catholic Church, while ignoring or outright contradicting most of Catholic social teaching. Is it that these two issues (reproductive freedom, same-sex marriage) actually weigh more heavily in the minds of Catholic voters? Is that why Santorum feels so comfortable identifying as a Catholic politician? Or does the prominence of these two issues in the public discourse about Catholicism have more to do with the Church's inability to communicate its message about social responsibility and diplomacy? HEAVY QUESTIONS. What we do know is in 2008, 52% of Catholic voters cast their ballots in favor of Barack Obama, a pro-choice candidate, maybe in part because his campaign was more in line with the vast majority of the issues outlined here—in a way Santorum's isn't and likely never will be. If Santorum wants to protect the Catholic conscience, it might benefit him to think about what the Catholic conscience actually is.

24 Comments / Post A Comment

Bittersweet (#765)

OK, trying one more time…The Church may not be effectively getting its opinions out there. Polling from a few years ago indicates 66% of U.S. Catholics support the death penalty. So Santorum isn't alone on that one.

jfruh (#713)

@Bittersweet Everyone is of course allowed to have beliefs about ethics and policy that are at variance with the beliefs of the religious institution to which they're affiliated! But I think the larger point is that you shouldn't proclaim outrage when an elected official proposes laws that conflict with your institution's religious beliefs when you, in your career as an elected official, also proposed laws that also conflicted what that institution's beliefs.

jamietie (#8,517)

When John Kerry ran for president, bishops wanted to deny him the Sacrament of the Eucharist because he supported abortion rights.
You don't hear many bishops wanting to deny that to Rick Santorum, despite the fact many of his positions are even farther out of line with Catholicism than Kerry's
And for what it's worth, fuck them for inserting themselves in politics in the first place, but I'm just point out the contradiction.

Maevemealone (#968)

@jamietie Santorum has some very very strong backers with frighteningly strong ties to the Vatican. This doesn't mean that the Vatican or that the entirety of the church agrees with him, but the Vatican will let a lot slide if the money is going one way and the drivel is turned the other.

I really appreciate this post. I think that it is good at making two complementary points: that Rick Santorum does not espouse anything that could be considered "Catholic social teaching" in a broad (meaningful) sense, and that socking it to bigot/idiot Rick Santorum cannot be construed as critiquing Catholic social teaching. "Santorumist social teaching" may overlap with an institutionally dominant strain of contemporary Christian ethics – heck, it may encapsulate the plurality of opinion among American bishops – but it is not synonymous, capitulative, commensurate, or particularly representative of Christian ethics.

Perhaps more importantly (and contradicting my previous paragraph), it is impossible to summarize the ethics of a billion-member religion, and it is very difficult to even set up a scorecard of ethical orthodoxy. Catholic traditional holds that the "church" possesses magisterial authority, and the instrument of that authority is the episcopate (bishops), but there is no mechanism like a vote to reach consensus on matters where bishops disagree or how they weigh various priorities.

I guess this was just a long winded way of saying, Don't hate Santorum because he's a (marginal, poorly trained) Catholic, hate him because he's a raging asshole!

Regina Small (#2,468)

@Charismatic Megafauna Wait, can I hate him for it all? (But really: salient points, well-made.)

Ralph Haygood (#13,154)

"Is it that these two issues (reproductive freedom, same-sex marriage) actually weigh more heavily in the minds of Catholic voters? Is that why Santorum feels so comfortable identifying as a Catholic politician?" Or is he maybe just a sanctimonious idiot? (He's not exactly a political genius, you know; he lost his last bid for reelection to the Senate by 18%.)

checkonetwo (#3,234)

@Ralph Haygood- Santorum lost to a pro-life Democrat whose father was a popular governor and whose family has never lost an election in Pennsylvania. He never really had a chance.

I hate Santorum as much as the next liberal, but I'm also from PA so I felt compelled to clarify. It wasn't his lack of political prowess which cost him that election (although perhaps it could help explain why the defeat was so bad).

Operalala (#10,518)

Thank you for all the quotes. What work!
(I have a Catholic background, but have been a practicing agnostic ever since I was old enough to have a thought of my own.)
A self-proclaimed practicing Catholic can't seriously take the tea party line on immigration (at least in the US, where immigrants are mostly Catholic; Europe is another matter), on racism (Africa and Asia for converts), on evolution (Church not about to repeat that Galileo fiasco), on redistribution of wealth, etc. etc.

Santorum is simply another Newt, saying whatever will get him his next check.
I half wonder if the church's issues with women aren't so important that they won't just turn around and repudiate this guy at some point. This pope has been outspoken against "selbstgemachte Religion", do-it-yourself religion, hehe.

Operalala (#10,518)

@Operalala
oops, skimmed too quickly over the end of the article – church leaders already starting to object: "We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum…"

Mr. B (#10,093)

Huh. Since I disagree with Santorum on every single issue he's taken a position on, I guess that makes me a better Catholic than he is (if we're playing by percentages) even though I'm a nonbeliever.

wamby (#185,649)

While it's thrilling that 40 people who can qualify as "Catholic leaders" wrote that final letter, it's fascinating who they are–lay people, Jesuits, and nuns.

checkonetwo (#3,234)

Excellent piece. I was raised Catholic, and even though I don't practice I still tend to follow the goings-on of the Catholic church more closely than I would any other religion. I was actually surprised by the sanity of many of the Church's positions (so I guess I don't follow the goings-on THAT well). If they would do a better job of communicating these rather than the constant focus on abortion and generally trying to end reproductive rights for women, maybe so many people wouldn't be completely convinced the Church is stuck in the Middle Ages.

With evolution, the Catholic Church actually does an excellent job with reconciling the Bible with science. My understanding of Catholic doctrine is that the week of Creation referred to in Genesis is not strictly a week and actually encompassed those billions of years between the formation of the Earth and the evolution of modern man. Not perfect, but certainly far more sensible than believing the Earth was created 6,000 years ago and any evidence to the contrary was planted by God to "trick" us. Personally, I'm pro-choice and anti-death penalty, but I have a much easier time understanding the POV of those who are pro-life and anti-death penalty than pro-life and pro-capital punishment.

There. That's all the praise I have for the Catholic Church, because they've certainly still got plenty of issues. But if Dick and Newton would just convert to evangelical Christianity, they'd be rid of two of them.

Abe Sauer (#148)

For what it's worth: Listen to Santorum and you'll almost never hear him mention he's Catholic. Ever. He very much knows that he's taken on a catholic evangelic hybrid role. Hell, Newt Gingrich has a picture of the pope on his campaign Facebook wall. Santorum? Nope.

City_Dater (#2,500)

@Abe Sauer

Exactly! He benefits from a confusion among "low information voters" that he is somewhere on the Evangelical/Fundamentalist continuum (like themselves). And given his expressed beliefs, I'm not sure they're wrong.

Operalala (#10,518)

@Abe Sauer
But when you promulgate policies that are essentially tied with religious groups, wouldn't this simply be common knowledge? I can't imagine there'd be any confusion among people who were concerned with these things.
I can't find Gingrich's pope picture, but I imagine that devout clown *would* need to remind people.

It was interesting that you quoted a different source for just about every quote. First, the death penalty. Although it is true the church has spoken out against the death penalty in modern times, the actual church teaching allows for its limited use – Rick Santorum's position. Second, illegal immigration. While it is true the church has tended taken a "compassionate" of illegal immigrants in America, I have a hard time believing that being catholic means supporting illegal entry of Mexicans into America so I think Santorum is ok on that one. Iran- "officals have said the Vatican would view outside military intervention with Iran as morally unjustifiable and impractical." ok, that is heresay. Although it is true the Vatican did oppose the Iraq war, there is something that is called just war theory that allows catholics to support military action in certain cases. That leaves a lot of room for people of good faith to have differences of opinion. Furthermore, Santorum has called for diplomacy for now on Iran, which puts him in line with the Vatican. intelligent design – I really saw little difference there. climate change – I don't know, there may be some difference there, but as far as catholic issues go, that probably ranks about 843rd on the list so it isn't too worrisome. poverty – Rick Santorum's view is the same as the parable of Jesus and the fisherman so I think he is ok.

So, the premise is Santorum's pro-life and pro-marriage view make up for any differences he may have with the church on other issues? 1 million % YES!!!!!!!!

Operalala (#10,518)

@Patrick Coll@facebook

Interesting that you didn't provide any quotes.

Alvy Lucas@facebook (#214,925)

Rick Santorum say's the President wants to interfere in the Catholic Church beliefs. So What? The Catholic Church makes people of other Religions that use their Hospitals abide by the Catholic Church beliefs! Example: My wife went to a Pediatrician that practiced in a Catholic Hospital.He took very good care of my wife. Unfortunatly the baby she was carrying died in the fifth month.The doctor explained that the body would deliver the baby and as long as she had no signs of the water breaking it would be deliverd. She carried the baby for the full nine months. She labored for eight hours for the only time in the five births she had.When we told the Hospital we wanted the bbby delivered to the University of Rochester for study we were told that we had have a funeral and bury the baby.They ignored our religious rights and insisted we follow theirs.We arranged for an undertaker to pick up the body and deliver it to the U of R. This was in Rochester,NY. In Hornel,NY there is only one Hospital and it is Catholic.This hospital should not be allowed to insist that a patient follow their beliefs on Birth Control nor what the patient wishes to do with their deceased's body. Good work President Obama make sure rules are in place to prevent any hospital from forcing their Religious Beliefs on person of Faiths other tha teirs! Alvy J. Lucas

ricks views are in orderwith pro life bible!

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