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.