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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Rick Santorum: Leading American Catholics on a Path Back into Oppression

 

President John F. Kennedy vs. Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

In a speech to a predominately Evangelical crowd in Plano, Texas, Catholic Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum redefined hyperbole when he made the accusation that President Obama was leading people of faith, including our Catholic community, "to the guillotines".   And while most Americans rolled their eyes at this statement, chalking it up to another ridiculously out of touch statement from Mr. Santorum, many American Catholics, especially older Catholics, shuddered in horror ... and not for reasons Mr. Santorum might think.

Older American Catholics remember back to the time, not so long ago, when our faith community was not only shunned socially, but discriminated against in the workplace and prevented from holding public positions of authority outside our church.    Americans feared we were a cult-like community who blindly obeyed directives from the Vatican.   Many of our grandparents married strictly inside our faith, not because they only fell in love with other Catholics, but because few Protestant families would allow their children to date Catholics.   And until our community waged a powerful campaign in 1964 to show America we were capable of living and governing in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-faith community, it was absurd to think a Catholic could ever seriously run for president.

President John F. Kennedy changed all that, promising and proving to the nation that our faith community was capable of being faithful Catholics inside our church, while dutifully serving the U.S. Constitution and the principles of justice, liberty and equality upon which our nation was founded.

So when older Catholics hear Rick Santorum on the campaign trail parrot the dictates of the Vatican, as is expected of members of the fringe conservative Opus Dei order to which Mr. Santorum belongs, it brings back memories of oppression and discrimination.

American Catholics do not wish to go back to the days when we were feared politically, discriminated against economically, and shunned socially.   Like President Kennedy, we honor the Catholic principles of primacy of conscience and our call to fight for comprehensive social justice.   On a variety of issues, we strongly disagree with the Vatican - from birth control to equal rights for LGBT citizens.

We reject what we see and know to be wrong -- and we reject Rick Santorum.


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