A great op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer illuminates the fact that, because of the failing economy, left-leaning Catholics are finally being heard. Remember, too, the other ways in which our poor economy is effecting reproductive health, including a spike in abortions, vasectomies, and adoption rates.
The article’s author, Dick Pulman, makes a compelling argument: Fifty-four percent of Catholic voters pulled the lever for Obama last November. Ronald Reagan is the only other president to have won such a decisive vote from Catholics, in 1984.
Pulman’s most powerful point is the comparison of the Catholic response to John Kerry in 2004 and the nomination of Kathleen Sebeilus:
During the ’04 campaign, when church leaders condemned John Kerry for being Catholic and "pro-choice," and declared that he, too, should be denied the sacrament, there was scant pushback from the Catholic ranks. The opposite is true today. Sebelius had not even been formally nominated when Catholics United, a new voice on the emergent Catholic left, leapt to her defense Feb. 28, praising her "deep Catholic faith" and "her commitment to living out the church’s call to building a more just society."
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Maybe someone could see it as disturbing that people might be abandoning their supposed deeply-held religious beliefs because of the gravity of the economic crisis. Another way of seeing this would be that many progressive Catholics are keeping the beliefs that matter to their lives, while abandoning the harmful rules of an ideology that is too strict to be applicable in reality. The latter appears to best explain the shift in opinion, and the broader acceptance of compromise and dialogue.