Why Catholic Democrats piped up

Over at the First Things blog, Editor Jody Bottum floats the following theory about the 55 Catholic Democrats' motive for drafting their "Statement of Principles":

But still the question remains: Why the statement now? For someone like Rosa L. DeLauroor for such signers as Bart Stupak, Patrick J. Kennedy, Cynthia McKinney, and Nancy Pelosiwhats the political gain of claiming Catholicism at a time when the American Church is still reeling from the scandals that broke in 2002?

A general rule is that you should trust people to know their own best interestsor, at least, trust professionals to understand their own professions better than outsiders do. No one gets elected to Congress by being a complete idiotabout politics, at least. There is, I think, a glamour that attaches to Catholicism right now. A lot of mud, too, of course. But the intellectual force of Catholic analysis and vocabulary seems to have touched an awful lot of Americas contemporary political debate, and the 55 signers of the Statement of Principles want in on it all.

In one sense, this is just another entry in the Democrats general attempt to reclaim religion. But in its peculiar Catholic iteration, the problem of abortion wrecks the logic of the statement from its very first moment. Until the Democrats find a genuine way to be pro-life, they will not be able to deploy Catholic intellectual resourcesor claim the prestige of doing so.

Here's another. I can't say I'm ready to impugn David Obey's reasons for signing the statement as an outgrowth of his desire to hitch a ride on the Catholic glamour wagon. It seems there's more to it than Catholic legislators simply wanting not to "get beaten up anymore for supporting abortion." Archbishop Burke may know something about this matter.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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