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The Catholic Church in US Politics

Religion and Politics in US History

Quotes (41)

With nearly a quarter of citizens of the United States professing to be Catholic, the Catholic Church has continued and expanded efforts to shape both the opinions of individual citizens and the national discourse on a number of fronts. Though the Church’s efforts to combat perceived social ills, especially abortion and same-sex marriage, have garnered the most attention in recent years, the Catholic Church’s advocacy for better immigration policies, healthcare reform, and nuclear disarmament, among others, have continued to influence conversations and attitudes. "Faithful Citizenship" guides, produced every two years by the US bishops, provide guidelines and explanations of Catholic teaching to Catholic voters and serve as a very prominent example of the Church’s involvement in US affairs.


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  • June 2, 2014
    A majority of Catholics believe that publicly-held corporations (56%), privately-owned corporations (54%), and privately-owned small businesses (53%) should be required to provide their employees with health insurance that includes contraception. However, Catholics are divided about whether religiously-affiliated hospitals (50% should, 47% should not) or religiously-affiliated colleges (49% should, 49% should not) should be required to provide contraception coverage for employees with their...
  • December 11, 2013
    Among [American] Catholics, 92 percent have a favorable view of [Pope] Francis and 95 percent say the same of the church. [...] Ninety-four percent of Catholics who identify as moderate or liberal say they have favorable views of Francis, compared with 73 percent who said the same of his predecessor, Pope Benedict, after he announced his retirement. Among politically conservative Catholics, 91 percent are favorable toward Francis, compared with 84 percent who said the same of Francis’s...
  • August 21, 2013
    We want to try to pull out all the stops. [Catholic lawmakers] have to hear the message that we want this done, and if you’re not successful during the summer, you’re not going to win by the end of the year. [...] If a representative gets contacted by their bishop and the representative is Catholic, they listen and they strongly take into consideration the views of the church.
  • August 13, 2013
    The a-ha moment for me was the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It was just awful. I just said I can't be associated structurally with that group, in terms of abortion and NARAL [Pro-Choice America] and Planned Parenthood and [the] same-sex marriage agenda and cultural destruction I saw going on. I just couldn't do it anymore. [...] Would Jesus be a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative? I'm going to punt on that question and say: all of the above and none of the above....
  • June 26, 2013
    Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also...
  • May 12, 2013
    Faith isn't a Christmas ornament; it's not something you save for a special occasion. It's something you live with and struggle with every day. That's why it's so frustrating and so comforting. [...] How does a Catholic public servant apply Catholic social teaching? [On some issues] the teaching is crystal clear, [but on others] there's a broad arc of prudential judgment, and there's room for everybody.
  • April 21, 2013
    Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime. But in our own hearts when we are unable to forgive we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred. Obviously as a Catholic I oppose the death penalty, which I think is one further manifestation of the culture of death in our midst.
  • April 15, 2013
    [...T]he Prefect of the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith], Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, expressed his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years. The Prefect then highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a...
  • April 4, 2013
    The Archdiocese for the Military Services and Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty recently became aware of a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity Training Brief that expressly listed “Catholicism,” “Evangelical Christianity,” and other religious groups as examples of “religious extremism” alongside groups such as “Al Qaeda”, “Hamas” and the “KKK.” The Archdiocese is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist....
  • February 1, 2013
    HHS has done the right thing. This is a victory not only for the Obama administration, but for the Catholic Church.
  • January 24, 2013
    We urge you to reflect on the wisdom in our church’s call for a ‘consistent ethic of life’ as you consider legislation in the coming months that can provide greater protection for our families and communities.
  • August 13, 2012
    [Biden’s Catholicism] is the Catholicism of our ethnic neighborhoods and union halls and St. Christopher medals on the dashboard. Congressman Ryan’s Catholicism seems different. It’s about obedience to the bishops, about pro-life politics, and reflects the professional class of Catholics who made it out of the old neighborhood and into the suburbs.
  • August 8, 2012
    Regardless of what they've done in the past, it is unthinkable for a Catholic charity to invite the man [President Obama] seeking the destruction of religious freedom in America to a fundraising event. This sends the wrong message to pew-sitting Catholics, who are anxiously looking to our bishops to stand up and fight against this clear enemy of the Church who will be joining them for dinner.
  • July 18, 2012
    The Catholic Church has a massive political army in America—it has just not been organized effectively, and that is what we are trying to do. Sixty-five million Catholics faithfully applying Catholic social teaching would dramatically change the future of this country.
  • July 4, 2012
    True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ. True freedom can walk away from anything—wealth, honor, fame, pleasure. […] It fears neither the state, nor death itself. We’re free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God’s plan. When we do this, when we choose to live according to God’s intention for us, we are then—and only then—truly free. This is the kind of freedom that can transform...
  • June 21, 2012
    Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith—in other words, how deeply we believe it and how honestly we live it. Religious liberty is an empty shell if the spiritual core of a people is weak. Or to put it more bluntly, if people don’t believe in God, religious liberty isn’t a value. That’s the heart of the matter. It’s the reason Pope Benedict calls us to a Year of Faith this October. The worst enemies...
  • June 9, 2012
    It’s important, of course, for bishops to be teachers and leaders. [But] it is crucial for lay men and women, mothers and fathers of families, lay leaders in all walks of life to advocate for freedom and justice in our society. Without those voices and without the involvement of the laity, we just won’t get very far. In the Church’s understanding, it is the laity who are the ones that bring about the just and tranquil society. It is the laity who are the forefront of creating what Pope Paul...
  • May 21, 2012
    The First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, however, was not meant to protect merely the right to worship, but also the right to contribute the fruits of our faith to the common good. And until now, our government had chosen to honor that guarantee. Never before has the government contested that institutions like Archbishop Carroll High School or Catholic University are religious. Who would? But HHS’s conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that even...
  • May 18, 2012
    I would begin by praising your unremitting efforts, in the best traditions of the Church in America, to respond to the ongoing phenomenon of immigration in your country. [...] A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform. This is clearly a difficult and complex issue from the civil and political, as well as the social and economic, but above all from the human point of view. It is thus of profound concern to the Church, since it...
  • May 16, 2012
    As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom. Secretary Sebelius’s mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that our Catholic schools and universities, hospitals, and social service ministries do not qualify as “religious enough” to be exempt. This redefinition of religion penalizes Catholic organizations because they welcome and serve all people regardless of their faith. Ironically, because of Georgetown’s commitment to open its doors to...
  • May 15, 2012
    We believe that this mandate is unjust and unlawful—it is bad health policy, and because it entails an element of government coercion against conscience, it creates a religious freedom problem. These moral and legal problems are compounded by an extremely narrow exemption that intrusively and unlawfully carves up the religious community into those that are deemed 'religious enough' for an exemption, and those that are not.
  • May 5, 2012
    It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country [the USA. ...] The question of Catholic identity, not least at the university level, entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus. All too often, it seems, Catholic schools and colleges have failed to challenge students to re-appropriate their faith as part of...
  • May 5, 2012
    Taking up this task [of building a Catholic culture] certainly involves a renewal of apologetics and an emphasis on Catholic distinctiveness; ultimately, however, it must be aimed at proclaiming the liberating truth of Christ and stimulating greater dialogue and cooperation in building a society ever more solidly grounded in an authentic humanism inspired by the Gospel and faithful to the highest values of America's civic and cultural heritage. At the present moment of your nation’s history,...
  • April 19, 2012
    Bishops who chair USCCB committees are elected by their fellow bishops to represent all of the U.S. bishops on key issues at the national level. The letters on the budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.
  • April 16, 2012
    Simply put, [Paul Ryan's] budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation, and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly, and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can't be justified in Christian terms.
  • April 16, 2012
    The bishops’ conference urges you to resist significant cuts to both domestic and international food aid and conservation and rural development programs. Major reductions at this time of economic turmoil and rising poverty will hurt hungry, poor, and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world. [...] A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all.
  • April 8, 2012
    [The Catholic Church] didn’t ask for the fight [about an insurance mandate for contraception coverage], but we’re not going to back away from it. [...] You've got a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the Church. Our problem is the government is intruding into the life of faith in the church that they shouldn't be doing.
  • April 8, 2012
    What we’ve seen is an erosion of religious liberty. Our teachings had been accommodated, but now they are not being accommodated.
  • April 8, 2012
    I think politics [...] only benefits when religion, when morals, when faith has a place there. I think [...] the public square in the United States is always enriched whenever people approach it, when they're inspired by their deepest held convictions.
  • March 28, 2012
    I think there would be a drift in the administration that this is a good issue and if we can divide the Catholic community because it's already divided [on the issue of contraception...]. All right. But we can't back down from this fight because it's about religious freedom.
  • January 19, 2012
    With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane, and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed...
  • January 19, 2012
    The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.
  • January 19, 2012
    Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you [bishops] have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect...
  • April 13, 2011
    As Catholic bishops [...] we offer several moral criteria to help guide difficult budgetary decisions:
    1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
    2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
    3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common...
  • April 16, 2008
    From the dawn of the Republic, America's quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation's founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature's God. The course of American history...
  • April 16, 2008
    Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience—almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. [...] In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the...
  • April 16, 2008
    On this, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity—as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God's bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident...
  • November 14, 2001
    It is wrong to use religion as a cover for political, economic or ideological causes. It compounds the wrong when extremists of any religious tradition radically distort their professed faith in order to justify violence and hatred. Whatever the motivation, there can be no religious or moral justification for what happened on September 11. People of all faiths must be united in the conviction that terrorism in the name of religion profanes religion. The most effective counter to terrorist...
  • June 15, 2001
    True stewardship requires changes in human actions -- both in moral behavior and technical advancement. Our religious tradition has always urged restraint and moderation in the use of material goods, so we must not allow our desire to possess more material things to overtake our concern for the basic needs of people and the environment. Pope John Paul II has linked protecting the environment to "authentic human ecology," which can overcome "structures of sin" and which promotes both human...
  • November 1, 1939
    When Pope Pius VI gave you your first Bishop in the person of the American John Carroll and set him over the See of Baltimore, small and of slight importance was the Catholic population of your land. […] This ruinous and critical state of affairs [following the American Revolution] was put aright by the celebrated George Washington, famed for his courage and keen intelligence. He was a close friend of the Bishop of Baltimore. Thus the Father of His Country and the pioneer pastor of the Church...
  • November 1, 1939
    To one who turns the pages of your history and reflects upon the causes of what has been accomplished it is apparent that the triumphal progress of Divine religion has contributed in no small degree to the glory and prosperity which your country now enjoys. It is indeed true that religion has its laws and institutions for eternal happiness but It is also undeniable that it dowers life here below with so many benefits that it could do no more even if the principal reason for its existence were...