Catholic Democrats in Congress (part 1/2)


On February 28th, the "Statement of Principles By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives" was released, in an effort to properly cast (read "spin") the role of personal religion in public duty.  The full text of it is available at the link above, but I have copied it below, along with the response of the Catholic Bishops right after it.
 
Several have already made comments that are far better than any I could make (such as "Regular Guy" Paul, Curt Jester, LifeNewsChurch Militant, and Michael Westfall of Spero News), but I have my own observations as well.  The most telling thing I noticed is that there were 55 Catholic Democrats who signed this statement, but there are 69 Catholic Representatives who are Democrats (as well as 54 Catholic Reps who are Republicans).  This leaves the following 14 Catholic Democrats who refused (or were not available) to sign this heretical statement:
  • Rep. Costello, Jerry (DEM-IL-12th)
  • Rep. Visclosky, Peter (DEM-IN-1st)
  • Rep. Melancon, Charlie (DEM-LA-3rd)
  • Rep. Dingell, John (DEM-MI-15th)
  • Rep. Bishop, Tim (DEM-NY-1st)
  • Rep. Higgins, Brian (DEM-NY-27th)
  • Rep. McNulty, Michael (DEM-NY-21st)
  • Rep. Rangel, Charles (DEM-NY-15th)
  • Rep. Kaptur, Marcy (DEM-OH-9th)
  • Rep. Kucinich, Dennis (DEM-OH-10th)
  • Rep. Kanjorski, Paul (DEM-PA-11th)
  • Rep. Murtha, John (DEM-PA-12th)
  • Rep. Cuellar, Henry (DEM-TX-28th)
  • Rep. Hinojosa, Ruben (DEM-TX-15th)
Whether this represents full acknowledgement of the Church’s authority in these matters is up for debate (e.g., it is unknown if Rangel, Kucinich, or Murtha vote pro-life or pro-abortion), but I think it is telling that, even on such a politically charged issue as this (the whole purpose of this statement is to rationalize their positions, since the Democrats narrowly lost the Catholic vote in the last election), at least some of those listed must not be putting politics before their faith.  At least some of them must realize (as noted in the post "Catholicism Neither Republican nor Democrat") that their eternal soul (as well as the eternal souls of others) is more important that the temporal state.  Some of them must have realized the mistake of JFK, when he said (as quoted from the Washington Post editorial "Public Officials Under God" by Dionne Jr.) that, "I do not speak for my church on public matters — and the church does not speak for me."
 
It is also worth noting that, of the most populous states, this is the breakdown of those Catholic Democrats that signed the statement, as a ratio of the Catholic Democrats from that state:
  • Texas: 2 out of 4 Catholic Democrats signed the statement
  • Pennsylvania: 3 out of 5 Catholic Democrats signed the statement
  • New York: 5 out of 9 Catholic Democrats signed the statement
  • Massachusetts: 7 out of 7 Catholic Democrats signed the statement
  • California: 14 out of 14 Catholic Democrats signed the statement
Thankfully, the American bishops have spoken out about this.  Looks like the bishops of Massachusetts and California have their work cut out for them in reigning in their flocks.  Please keep them in your prayers.
 
I will now let the "statements" speak for themselves.  First, the "Statement of Principles By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives":
Statement of Principles
By Fifty-Five Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives
As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition — a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.
We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. That commitment is fulfilled in different ways by legislators but includes: reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war. Each of these issues challenges our obligations as Catholics to community and helping those in need.
We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion—we do not celebrate its practice. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children=s healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.
In all these issues, we seek the Church’s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church’s role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate — a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.
As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. In doing so, we guarantee our right to live our own lives as Catholics, but also foster an America with a rich diversity of faiths. We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties.
As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the "people of God," called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church’s bearing as it does on ours.
Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT-3rd)
Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1st)
James R. Langevin (D-RI-2nd)
Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14th)
Betty McCollum (D-MN-4th)
Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ-7th)
John B. Larson (D-CT-1st)
Joe Baca (D-CA-43rd)
Tim Ryan (D-OH-17th)
Mike Thompson (D-CA-1st)
Charles A. Gonzalez (D-TX-20th)
Diane Watson (D-CA-33rd)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-12th)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6th)
James P. McGovern (D-MA-3rd)
Tim Holden (D-PA-17th)
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI-5th)
Cynthia McKinney (D-GA-4th)
Michael Capuano (D-MA-8th)
Mike Doyle (D-PA-14th)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22nd)
Joseph Crowley (D-NY-7th)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34th)
Robert Brady (D-PA-1st)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA-38th)
Jose Serrano (D-NY-16th)
Edward J. Markey (D-MA-7th)
Lane Evans (D-IL-17th)
David R. Obey (D-WI-7th)
Hilda L. Solis (D-CA-32nd)
Bart Stupak (D-MI-1st)
Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8th)
Gene Taylor (D-MS-4th)
Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4th)
Ed Pastor (D-AZ-4th)
William Delahunt (D-MA-10th)
Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16th)
Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA-39th)
Xavier Becerra (D-CA-31st)
Michael H. Michaud (D-ME-2nd)
Jim Marshall (D-GA-3rd)
John T. Salazar (D-CO-3rd)
George Miller (D-CA-7th)
James L. Oberstar (D-MN-8th)
Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI-1st)
James P. Moran (D-VA-8th)
Richard E. Neal (D-MA-2nd)
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR-4th)
Dennis A. Cardoza (D-CA-18th)
Jim Costa (D-CA-20th)
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47th)
Marty Meehan (D-MA-5th)
Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4th)
Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9th)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8th)
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