Progressive Catholics Are Finally Being Heard

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."

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.

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  • paul-bradford

    I can assure you, because I am a member of Catholics United, that no one in the leadership there has ‘abandoned deeply-held religious beliefs’ nor has anyone renounced the rules the Church on the grounds that they are ‘too strict to be applicable in reality’.


    Conservative Catholics criticize both Obama and Sebelius because they have each demonstrated an unwillingness to support legislation to restrict a woman’s access to abortion. Obama also garners criticism for his staunch support of embryonic stem cell research. Progressive Catholics take note of the fact that Obama’s policies on immigration, the war in Iraq, care for the poor, protection of the environment, labor relations and many other issues are in accord with Catholic Social Teaching while conservative Republicans take positions that oppose Church teaching on these issues.  Progressive Catholics, such as those who signed Catholic United’s petition in support of Gov. Sebelius , do NOT dispute or oppose Church teaching on abortion or stem cell research and, in fact, are lobbying the current administration to make good on its promise to work toward abortion reduction.


    It isn’t as if Conservative Catholics oppose abortion whereas Progressive Catholics support it. The argument between them is an argument about the efficacy of criminalizing abortion and the propriety of supporting politicians who have a good record on many of the Church’s Social Justice Teachings but who are on the wrong side of the abortion question.


    Paul Bradford  Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    I am a lifelong Catholic-though I do separate “Church Laws” vs. the articles of Faith.

    Making abortion illegal will not stop abortion. It did not in the past and will not in the future. The idea that single men even have the concept of family decisons is not reasonable. Priest should marry and women should be ordained. All of us should work toward making abortion unnecessary-no one I know is Pro abortion.

    Education, support for pregnant women and for them after the child is born would be much more effective than abstence only.

    Education should not only be for young girls but boys as well who should learn that it is their responsibility too when a pregnacy occurs. The church tends to make girls responsible alone, when we all know it take two.

    This is not just because of the economy. I have believed all of this for my whole adult life. Blame the Jesuits who taught us to question,

  • invalid-0

    The vatican hates woman it is what they do and say that makes it very clear. When is the church going to either treat women as equals or just ban them all together and leave us alone with your “issues”.