Pennsylvania Pushback

Mark Silk at RNS looks at the Catholic vote in the Keystone State. Citing a five percent Catholic swing toward the president from 2008 to a recent poll, the columnist takes aim at the new archbishop and his religious freedom theme:

It also tells you something about the political impact of the state’s outspoken archbishop Charles Chaput, who was installed in the See of Philadelphia a year ago.

Obama’s surge among Catholic voters doesn’t mean the bishops’ campaign has been ineffective, just that Catholics don’t regard religious freedom as the most salient issue. My guess is that Chaput would disagree. The point of his campaign has been to make the issue as salient as he can.

With the president now twice as likely to steal Montana or Arizona from the GOP as Mr Romney might pocket Pennsylvania, my sense is that this election is breaking bad for the bishops. I’m not surprised, especially considering a possible stubborn pushback factor among voting Catholics when pounded relentlessly on an issue. I thought I saw it six years ago in Missouri. Bishop Finn’s young and inexperienced pro-life staff at the chancery helped pull the anti-ESCR effort to a dead heat a few weeks before election. But then proceeded to treat churchgoing Catholics like nails to their hammer. Sometimes when people pound a little too strongly and dominate the conversation without an edgewise word, they send a signal they might not want to send. The talking gets a bit brittle. And the final edgewise word might be next to that black-filled oval on Election Day.

I recommend pro-life young turks and their bishops give up the video contests with guns and shooting and be schooled in a more subtle game, one that reflects real politics and human interaction. A contest where lowering one’s head and running fast doesn’t break down a wall. I wish the political pro-lifers had more the subtlety of a stone rather than a hammer.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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