Time for Catholics and Democrats to get a divorce

Jack Kenney: Time for Catholics and Democrats to get a divorce


AT THE END of an unusually awkward and embarrassing campaign for President, a few things have become clear, not the least of which is the increasingly strained relationship between the leadership of the Democratic Party and a great many serious and thoughtful Catholic voters, whose loyalty to the party has been a long-standing tradition.

That strained relationship was brought into sharp and uneasy focus at the quadrennial Al Smith dinner in New York. With Hillary Clinton seated next to Cardinal Tomithy Dolan, Donald Trump said Clinton was there “pretending not to hate Catholics.”

The boos from the audience were loud and emphatic, but we might wonder if Trump had, however maladroitly, hit upon a truth and a vulnerable aspect of the ideology and platform of the national Democratic Party. The exposed nerve Trump clumsily struck is the Democratic Party’s alliance with allegedly progressive, left-wing and clearly anti-Catholic forces.

Such alliances were unthinkable in your father’s and grandfather’s Democratic Party. The enormously successful New Deal coalition of Southern Democrats and Northern liberals depended heavily on Catholics in the urban areas of the Northeast, who saw in the Democratic programs a movement toward the kind of social justice preached for generations by Catholic prelates. That New Deal coalition seemed more secure with the election in 1960 of Democrat John F. Kennedy, the first and thus far only, Catholic President.

But then the world and the party began to change. The Cold War ideology that held people of otherwise warring ideologies together took a hit during the Vietnam War and other, later conflicts in places such as El Salvador and Nicaragua. At the same time, the clear moral imperatives of the civil rights movement began to spill over into other causes that challenged traditional moral and religious norms. Underlying that expanded movement for “equal rights” was and is the sexual revolution that holds up as the pursuit of happiness the endless quest for sexual pleasure without consequences.

Thus, the Democratic Party became the party of abortion not long after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the U.S. Constitution required the recognition of inviolable “abortion rights.” Then came “gay rights” and even “gay marriage.” This put the party platform directly at odds with the teaching of the Catholic Church, which has continued to hold to a doctrine that was mirrored until the early 1970s by the American Psychiatric Association — that homosexuality is, as the Church has always said, “an objective moral disorder.”

The radically pro-homosexual group Act Up staged an unruly and clearly anti-Catholic protest when its members stormed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and began throwing condoms about in the midst of the communicants. Not long after that, the same organization was present, front and center, at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Bill Clinton and adopted a platform pretentiously labeled a “New Covenant” with the American people, one that obviously was in conflict on many points with what Christians had been venerating for centuries as the New Covenant between God and his people.

And so, before Donald Trump made his pointed jibe at the Al Smith dinner, a Wikileaks disclosure of emails between and among high-ranking Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, calling for a “Catholic spring” that would effectively make the Catholic Church, the ecclesiastical auxiliary of the Democratic Party and the Democratic platform. That is radically anti-Catholic in a more subtle and more dangerous way than the older, more honest anti-Catholicism that warned openly, if incredibly, of a Pope moving into the White House to preside over the national establishment of the Catholic religion.

The party leaders do not, to be fair, hate the Catholic people. But they do hate the Church for what they see as its outmoded doctrines, especially on sexual morality.

Many Catholics, both clergy and lay, have supported the Democratic Party’s devotion to the social welfare state. It is time to reexamine that alliance in the cold clear light of a deracinated party cut off from its Judaic and Christian roots. If thy voting hand offends thee cut it off. And if you value your votes, cast those pearls no more at the feet of moral and intellectual swine.

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