Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh Chris, The Catholic Church Has Something to Tell You (Steve Capus, Really)

Unlike MSNBC, the Catholic Church doesn't flip the "dog whistle" when it comes to calling out the racists and race-baiters. I, for one, love them for it and am very proud of my Catholic heritage, despite its issues. My experience with the Church, as that of millions of Catholics, was positive and life-changing. I'm sure our friend, Chris Matthews, feels the same way. Take this as a gentle reminder, Chris. Hopefully you'll keep the Church's admonition in mind, when covering the 2012 elections. Racism should never, ever, be brushed aside as Republican "politics as usual;" it should be front and center, whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. I don't want to hear Michael Steele's rationalizations. You shouldn't need to be reminded of what's unacceptable under any circumstances; of what is immoral.

An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum
As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.

Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (retired)

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Leadership Team:
Sisters Patricia McDermott, RSM (President) Eileen Campbell, RSM Anne Curtis, RSM Mary Pat Gavin, RSM Deborah Troillett, RSM

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