Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

2/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes

Now along comes Rick Santorum. A father of eight, he not only supports a pro-life message--he lives it. This Catholic politician doesn't come from a wealthy family who can buy elections for him. He doesn't rely on the mobsters or the political machine to fix elections. His grandfather was a coal miner, and he's made it on his own. Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes.His pro life credentials are complete. He is not just against abortion, but genuinely pro life--in favor of assistance for the poor, helping the fight against AIDS, and looking to build community in order to help the needy on a local level. (Fr. Dwight Longenecker)

Rick Santorum at a campaign stop, holding his daughter Bella

Rick Santorum at a campaign stop, holding his daughter Bella

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Santorum, politics, campaign 2012, Life, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Republican primary, Catholics Catholic Vote, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - As Rick Santorum surges in popularity people may be scratching their heads about his Catholic faith. The American public are used to Catholic politicians, but not this kind of Catholic politician.

I grew up as an Evangelical Protestant. We were prejudiced against Catholics. In our mind, Catholics were Democrats--and that was not good. We knew many of the blue collar folks were Catholics, but Catholics were also fat cats.

The Kennedys were Catholics and we had no respect for old Joe Kennedy who made his money as a bootlegger, nor for his philandering sons with their assumed air of American royalty. The Catholics we knew did not help to correct our prejudices. In our Puritanical Protestantism we didn't smoke or drink or play cards or gamble or go to the movies. The Catholics did all that bad stuff.

I know now that my prejudices were just that. Among the worldly and sinful Catholics were many good and holy Christians. Likewise, among us Puritanical Protestants it turned out that there were many fallen and hypocritical Christians. That is really not the issue here. What my Protestant prejudices reveal is what Protestants in America have long thought about Catholics.

Protestant Evangelicals combined their theological disagreements with Catholicism with the bad example of Catholics in public life. Every time a Kennedy misbehaved the Protestants sneered and had their suspicions confirmed.

Whenever Catholic politicians like Pelosi and Biden and Kerry stood against their own church in public, the Protestants pointed fingers. When the Catholic bishops did nothing to discipline the wayward politicians Protestants raised a knowing eyebrow saying, "That figures."
 
Furthermore, the Kennedy Catholics in Washington were put there by the Kennedy Catholics in their own neighborhood. When they met local Catholics, more often than not they met lukewarm, badly catechized, non church going people who were only Catholic because they were Irish or Italian.

Now along comes Rick Santorum. A father of eight, he not only supports a pro-life message--he lives it. This Catholic politician doesn't come from a wealthy family who can buy elections for him. He doesn't rely on the mobsters or the political machine to fix elections. His grandfather was a coal miner, and he's made it on his own. Here's a Catholic politician who doesn't speak down to the working classes, but speaks up for the working classes.

His pro life credentials are complete. He is not just against abortion, but genuinely pro life--in favor of assistance for the poor, helping the fight against AIDS, and looking to build community in order to help the needy on a local level. Furthermore, he is open and obvious about his faith in a way that no other Catholic politician before him has dared to be.

Since Kennedy's famous promise that he would not let his Catholicism influence his political decision, the Catholic politicians have followed in his footsteps with disastrous effect. The majority of high profile Catholic politicians have not allowed their faith to influence their decisions--and that has been the problem.

Santorum is unapologetic about his faith and affirms that it is faith and family and freedom that will actually solve the country's problems at the root level. This profound insight is grounded in a Catholic faith that is fully informed, actively engaged and vitally involved. It is popular, positive, optimistic and upbeat, and the American people have never seen anything like it.

What is the response? The mainstream media seem bewildered by Santorum. They would like to paint him as an angry, anti abortion extremist. But he's clearly a nice guy. He's sensible. He listens. He insists that his platform is wider than the one anti abortion plank. The mainstream media also seem bewildered by Santorum's version of Catholicism.

The East coast elite, like the Protestants of my childhood, are also prejudiced about Catholicism. They also have also considered all Catholics to be Kennedy Catholics. But they are starting to notice that the Kennedys aren't around any more. They thought the Catholics were an alliance of big Bishops, big politicians and union leaders with huge resources and a hefty voting base. Santorum has jarred those prejudices.

Santorum has also jarred the Catholics themselves. For the last decade the Kennedy Catholic  Church in this country has been in decline. Cultural Catholics--those who are Catholic simply because of their ethnicity-- are increasingly aged and uninvolved in their faith. The young Catholics are better catechized, more pro life, more zealous for their faith and more active in the world, and Santorum represents this new wave of what we call the John Paul II generation of Catholics.

What must be most frightening to those who are instinctively against Santorum is his popularity with the Protestants. This is unprecedented in American politics. The Protestant Evangelicals were always wary of Catholic politicians because--that's right--they were all Kennedy Catholics. I don't think America has yet woken up to what an earthquake occurred within American religion when a group of Evangelical pastors prayed and joked with Santorum in Texas last week.

For the first time a Catholic politician is popular not only with Catholics, but with Evangelicals. Is anybody out there really opening their eyes to just how huge this new alliance could be? The fact that Santorum is openly admired by Evangelical Protestants also reveals another shift that has been going on for years.

For many cultural, historical and theological reasons, over the last thirty years the hard line between Protestants and Catholics has been softening. Evangelicals are far more likely now to regard Catholics like Santorum as allies rather than enemies.

Whether Santorum wins his party's nomination and ultimately the White House is a totally different issue. What is fascinating is how his appearance on the public scene has articulated existing shifts within Catholicism, within Christianity in America and within the culture as a whole.

The shift is catching the imagination of the whole of America and should make all of us wonder the true impact Santorum Catholicism will have on the future of the United States.

-----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a prolific author, blogger and sought after speaker. Visit his website and blog at dwightlongenecker.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Is it official? Obama worst president in U.S. history as report shows he does not attend briefings Watch

Image of Obama may be the most apathetic--or incompetent president in U.S. history. He is certainly the least effective since Carter.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A report has revealed that President Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings, which explains why he has underestimated the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Government Accountability Institute report shows that Obama has ... continue reading


Why did Obama lie to the American people about ISIS? Watch

Image of Obama blamed his failure on ISIS on the intelligence community.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama has found someone to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, and it's the intelligence community that supports him. According to Obama during a 60 Minutes interview, the intelligence community failed to warn him of the rise of the Islamic State. LOS ... continue reading


From the Values Voter Summit: Values, Citizenship and Hope Watch

Image of The birth certificate of this nation was called a Declaration of Independence because it declared independence from an unjust civil ruler. It did not declare independence from a just God.

By Keith A. Fournier

I write from Washington DC where I have been participating in the Values Voter Summit cosponsored by numerous organizations, associations and alliances dedicated to the moral values which ensure a truly free society. I was invited to participate by my friend, a ... continue reading


As the Election Season Begins, Time for a New Christian Social Movement Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

As the political season in the United States of America moves into full gear with the midterm elections opening up into the 2016 presidential campaign, my mind turns again to political and social participation. I will attend the Values Voter Summit this weekend ... continue reading


Too hot in the kitchen? Eric Holder resigns Watch

Image of Eric Holder may be fleeing the heat he's feeling for his refusal to cooperate with Congress.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eric Holder is preparing to announce his resignation as attorney general, following a five-and-a-half year stint fraught with controversy. WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Eric Holder, 63, will be announcing his resignation as attorney general after more than five ... continue reading


'The alarm bells keep ringing' says Obama at climate change summit in New York Watch

Image of Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was among the hundreds of international leaders and spokespeople who attended the global climate change summit held in New York.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During the United Nations Climate Summit meeting in New York on September 23, President Obama appealed to the international community to make greater strides towards creating and enforcing carbon caps, explaining that climate change is happening at a faster pace ... continue reading


Rockefellers to sell investments in fossil fuel to switch to 'clean energy' Watch

Image of From left to right: Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, the chair of the fund, and Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, in New York, Sept. 16, 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a bold move that illustrates just how far climate change has reached the public's consciousness, heirs to the Rockefeller family have announced that they intend to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy. The announcement is a ... continue reading


CAN'T KEEP UP: So many employees leaving Department of Homeland Security, it poses risk to U.S. Watch

Image of The vacating of those in top management positions in the Department of Homeland Security has helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS has seen an exodus of employees over the past four years. According to officials, this is leaving the United States open to potential terrorist strikes and cyber-attacks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Employees ... continue reading


Shell game in Kansas - why Democrats don't have to win Kansas to win the Senate Watch

Image of Independent investor Greg Orman seems to have the advantage in the newly-reshaped senate race.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The race for Senate in Kansas may suddenly be the most crucial contest in the nation as Republicans scramble to protect their longtime incumbent, Bob Dole is back on the campaign trail, Democrats are being as quiet as possible about not having a candidate, and a ... continue reading


Are they on to something? Judicial Watch says terrorists are operating in Mexico Watch

Image of Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who represents El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives, called the area offices of various government agencies in response to a report that Middle Eastern terrorists were operating across the border in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Judicial Watch, a controversial Web site that maintains that Middle Eastern terrorists are operating just cross the border from the United States from Mexico is evidently stirring up waves. Federal law enforcement sources in El Paso, Texas say that a United ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter