Catholics won’t warm up to Santorum’s pro-war mindset

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Wednesday night’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” was a primer in religion and politics. The astute Matthews repeatedly brought up Rick Santorum’s being Catholic as a crucial part of his strategy in the weeks ahead. Matthews spoke of Santorum’s ability to grab “angry… gritty, gritty Catholics”– conservative Irish and Italian Catholics of the northeast. Matthews’s Catholic talk was echoed by Howard Fineman of Huffpo and Jennifer Donahue of Eisenhower Institute. But is Matthews right? Mark Wauck, a Catholic living in Illinois, not far from Iowa, offered the following analysis:

I think Matthews is talking through his hat. If you look at a county map of Iowa, it was clear that Santorum was taking the rural counties, with their Evangelicals–just what the conventional wisdom said was happening earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Ron Paul was picking up cities along the Mississippi, and especially in the NE. When I checked Wikipedia, it turned out that’s where Catholics are concentrated.

Those Catholics are probably Reagan Dems, or the children of Reagan Dems. I think Paul’s anti-war message resonates with them. The Evangelicals, with their love of Old Testament imagery and their “Christian” Zionism– they’re the war party people. Of course, nowadays there’s a blurring of boundaries, with Catholics influenced by Evangelicals and Evangelicals (wonder of wonders) willing to vote for followers of the Whore of Babylon. Still– Catholics in America aren’t into holy wars, generally speaking.

By far the best map resource on Iowa voters is Iowa Caucus 2012 Results MAP (REAL-TIME DATA). Not only is it color coded by county, but by rolling your mouse pointer over the counties you get a detailed breakdown of the vote.

As you do so, bear in mind Catholic demographics in Iowa (Wikipedia):

[In] the southernmost two tiers of Iowa counties and in other counties in the center of the state, the largest religious group was the United Methodist Church; in the northeast part of the state, including Dubuque and Linn counties (where Cedar Rapids is located), the Catholic Church was the largest; and in ten counties, including three in the northern tier, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was the largest. The study also found rapid growth in Evangelical Christian denominations. Dubuque is home to a Catholic archdiocese, which spans the northeastern section of Iowa.

Notice the reference to Dubuque and Linn counties and to the NE part of the state. 

Paul lost both Dubuque and Linn counties–to Romney. However, he finished second in both counties (doing 5 points and 3 points better there compared to his overall totals). Santorum, in third place, was -1 and -4. He fared worse in these Catholic counties!

In fact, throughout the eastern third Paul did very well, getting 27-33% in a range of counties (and 49% in one). All well above his average.

Here was the conventional wisdom:

Watch Dubuque: The county in the northeast corner of the state is heavily Catholic and an area Romney scored well in four years ago. If Rick Santorum isn’t winning here it means the Santorum surge isn’t real or isn’t big enough to matter. The state is 23% Catholic – if Santorum, a pro-life Catholic himself, consolidates the Catholic vote in Dubuque and elsewhere, the Iowa surprise could be a Santorum win.

But that’s not what happened. What happened was that the Evangelicals went to Santorum in a big way, but Santorum came in third in the most heavily Catholic areas. Had he finished even second in most of the Catholic counties he would have won the state going away.

Anecdotally, I hear that Catholics in Iowa tend to be Democratic and liberal. Nevertheless, Santorum will have to show better among Catholics elsewhere to have any real chance. It’s possible that his style has more appeal to Evangelicals than to Catholics. For example, my brother told me that Bill Bennett called Santorum this morning, live on the radio, and Santorum was talking about his “Bible based policies.” I can just about guarantee you that that will go down less well among Catholics than among Evangelicals. But Santorum could find it difficult to walk that back without alienating Evangelicals. 

To give you a flavor of how serious Catholics view Santorum, check out Crisis, a Catholic magazine.  These are true blue, pro-life Catholics.  Here’s what they say about Santorum:

Rayne: What about Rick Santorum?

 Franz: If we could vote for him as “President of the United States,” and not “Galactic Overlord,” I might consider it. But when he was out in the political wilderness after getting killed in his last Senate campaign, Santorum recovered his fortunes the same way Gingrich did: On the rubber-chicken warmonger circuit, running around telling neoconservatives how the U.S. needed to gird itself for imminent military action against…. fill in the blank. Iran. Venezuela. Quebec. While I deeply admire Santorum’s embrace of Natural Law principles, and his real understanding of the centrality of the family to society, I think that as a Catholic we have to consider him a dissenter: His policies really reject the Church’s teaching on Just War—which is not, sorry to say, “Just war… just because.”

They think Church teaching on Just War is important.  He’s got a problem.

And look what happened to Santorum in  PA, when he had to run against a Catholic Dem.  That tells me that when given a choice Catholics aren’t going to vote for war as a majority position. 

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25 Responses

  1. dumvitaestspesest
    January 6, 2012, 10:18 am

    Very good comment from the net.
    “The problem with Rick Santorum is that he is pro-life except , when that life is a baby in a muslim womb, and that is where moral conservatism is stuck in the USA.
    The country needs a reboot and only the philosophically flawed Ron Paul is prepared to hit the on-off switch.
    He would get my vote for that reason.”

  2. marc b.
    January 6, 2012, 10:51 am

    It’s possible that his style has more appeal to Evangelicals than to Catholics.

    his style is american berserker. he will not do well amongst catholics, who are a much more diverse bunch than the dimwitted, uniform core of evangelicals. he is, apparently, more a mel gibson-type catholic than of the elastic ideology i grew up with.

    Santorum has frequently insisted that his political values are guided by his religious values, and that John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech describing a separtion between the two had done “much harm” in America. But despite inviting such scrutiny, there’s been little discussion of Santorum’s ties to ultra-conservative movements within the Roman Catholic Church Santorum’s comments about JFK were made in Rome in 2002 when he spoke at a 100th birthday event for Jose Maria Escrivade Balaguer, founder of the secretive group within the church known as Opus Dei. Although Santorum says he is not a member of Opus Dei — which has been criticized by some for alleged cult-like qualities and ties to ultra-conservative regimes around the world — he did receive written permission to attend the ultra-conservative St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Va., where Mass is still conducted in Latin and a long-time priest and many parishioners are members of Opus Dei, mingling with political conservatives like Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and former FBI director Louis Freeh.

    • marc b.
      January 6, 2012, 11:06 am

      On a typical morning before class, says former Boston College student Tammy DiNicola, she would wake to a loud knock, kiss the floor and silently say “Serviam,” Latin for “I will serve.”

      Then, she says, she would: take a cold shower while praying; whip her buttocks privately while reciting a prayer (once a week); attend a Mass in Latin; wear a spiked chain, called a cilice, around her thighs for two hours; vacuum two rooms in her residence; and perhaps meet with her spiritual director.

      DiNicola was once a member of Opus Dei, where lay members strive for holiness in everyday life through strict adherence to the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings, at work and at home.

      With special ties to the pope, Opus Dei takes a traditionalist approach and has been portrayed as an important counterforce to liberal reforms in the church since the 1960s and to concerns such as declining attendance.

      But some Catholics express concern about Opus Dei’s recruitment practices and what they say is Opus Dei’s growing conservative influence in the church. “Like many Catholics, I’m concerned about the apparent growth of Opus Dei in the Vatican, here, and among Latin American cardinals and bishops,” says David O’Brien, a professor of Roman Catholic studies at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass.

      “I’m one in general who thinks, both pastorally and historically, that we’ve not gone anywhere near far enough in allowing a kind of freedom of expression and a flourishing of diverse forms of Catholicism around the world.”

      • dumvitaestspesest
        January 6, 2012, 11:20 am

        Opus Dei is not a “tradionalist approach”.
        Who knows what they really are. A troyan horse within a catholic Church??
        A “catholic” version of free-masonery??

  3. Froggy
    January 6, 2012, 11:13 am

    The view from Brittany, the very Catholic, very conservative, extremely remote, rural province in the far west of France is that the Americans have totally lost the plot. Santorum. Gingrich. Romney. Scant difference.

    How can anyone take seriously any nation that ran Sarah Palin as VP?

    This is the prevailing view throughout Europe. So sad. We are sicked at the thought that the US is going to start another needless war. The drums are beating and there seems no way to stop it.

    The British had Obama taped. From the beginning they said he was another Tony Blair, a slick smiling sell-out, and so he is.

    Any of your Republicans make Sarkozy look good. And that’s bad.

    Fiona, in France

    • dumvitaestspesest
      January 6, 2012, 11:57 am

      My dear friend, Froggy.
      The politics, not only in USA, but basically all over the globe (with maybe some exceptions) has been hijacked by corrupted, opportunistc, sleazy ,cowardly individuals, who under a democratic mask of serving the average person ,serve those ,who pull their strings. Who are “THOSE”?? The answers vary.
      But they are for sure not friends of humanity, freedom, peace and justice.
      They are not preparing for us a” bed of roses”. They are plotting a horrible fate for all of us , no matter what race, country, religion, ethnicity, political views, gender etc.
      Look at the whole picure. Look at what is going on not only in politics and economy, but also what is going on in the mainstream media, culture, religion, food, health, enviroment,education. etc.
      We are controlled by our Allmighty Governments, and not in the ways that benefit us, our mental, emotional, intellectual, physical well-being.
      Quite the opposite.

      • Froggy
        January 6, 2012, 2:20 pm

        It’s not as bad as that in Europe, yet. However, it could get to that point.

        We rely on government for our most important services, but not for our values or our answers. The French wouldn’t allow the food and water supplies to be tainted, the way the American food and water supplies are. I own a lovely manoir on the sea where my family has lived since the 5th century. But you know what? The beach doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the people of France. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Education is free, with a few expenses for the rich. Entry to the best schools is by merit. Admittedly, we have the same class problems common to all countries, where the children from the reading families do better than the children from the TV-watching families.

        Medical care is amongst the best in the world.

        Culture is everywhere, some really great stuff. Much of it free, and the rest inexpensive.

        Religion. Ah well, by law France is a secular country. My daughter removes her cross before going to school. I tell her that if she wants people to know she’s Catholic, she will have to BEHAVE like a good Catholic at all times. When she whinges about it I point out that in the pictures you don’t see Sainte Anne d’Auray wearing a cross, do you? (Gets her every time. -lol-)

        If any of this were to erode, the French would strike and close the country down. If that didn’t stop the erosion, there would be a revolution.

        There is a lot that people can do. Disrupt the economy, for one.

        You must understand that we the people control our governments, not the other way round. There are more of us than there are of them.

        The real danger is when the people of a country stop seeing themselves as they really are, the good the bad, the eccentric, their true present and historic selves, and replace reality with an ersatz version created from their own mythology.

        Fiona, in France

      • marc b.
        January 6, 2012, 4:01 pm

        ecoute moi, bien, madame de grenouille, i won’t have you coming in here, talking your commie, eurotrash talk about these etats-unidos of america, comprende? we have the best country in the world, without exeception, no matter what the literacy and mortality statistics say.

      • Froggy
        January 6, 2012, 5:28 pm

        -LOL- Love it!

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2012, 9:17 pm

        Meh, the French have been more individualistic and intellectually focused as a whole than anybody, and it was so in the last quarter of the 19th Century too; they would laugh at the absurdity of Cain’s claim that ” We need leaders, not readers!” This absurd statement was barely noted in the US MSM. The American version of what it means to be a man is quite different than the French version, yes?

      • Froggy
        January 7, 2012, 12:18 am

        Entirely different sets of values. A woman I know has a newly-built house worth about a million (mostly due to its location). Nobody thinks about that one way or another. What impresses them? Two things: her art collection (not very valuable, mostly by local artists, and one spectacular Dovbenko), and that she is an accomplished musician, an artist.

        It’s not that the French are always so knowledgeable, but that we deplore calculated ignorance.

        I never heard that statement by Cain. Incredible. Why do so many Americans prize ignorance?

        Anyway, leading the French would be like herding cats. The French tend to be more well-rounded. Also, we care more about society. We are individualistic, but we also see ourselves as part of a whole. (I’m not sure any of this makes sense.)

      • MRW
        January 6, 2012, 4:16 pm


        “The politics, not only in USA, but basically all over the globe (with maybe some exceptions) has been hijacked by corrupted, opportunistc, sleazy ,cowardly individuals, who under a democratic mask of serving the average person ,serve those ,who pull their strings.”

        No dumvita, it has been hijacked by people not educating themselves about history, about how their economy works, etcetera, and by not piping up. We have allowed civics to be removed from the curriculum of US classrooms, for example.

        We are to blame for the mess we’re in, just as the Israelis are to blame for the terrorism they claim they are victim to.

        As Ella Baker said, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”

      • dumvitaestspesest
        January 6, 2012, 9:58 pm

        You have an ideal/utopian vision of something that “should be”.
        I just see what I see, a reality.
        You are right , in a way people are to blame for letting the psychos, lunatics, power hungry individuals take over the course of the global politics.
        But as for now, they are on top and they steer the course of the worldy events.
        And not everybody is strong, and not everybody is a leader.
        People need leaders. But the leaders who care.
        Evil people feed of the fear, cowardice, indifference of so called decent/good people.

    • Kathleen
      January 6, 2012, 1:10 pm

      Hey Froggy hope you will share your views by calling into some of our MSM outlets that you could get through right away on. European, first time caller and all. Get your friends to call, email, twitter, facebook etc during these showa. May I suggest calling into the Diane Rehm show Talk of the Nation, Washington Journal, the Ed Show. Point of View the Christian station out of Colorado Springs. Sometimes you have to say something you know the screener wants to hear or soften up what you really want to say and then say what you want once you get through the screener. Join the debate and help us and the world. Millions of us are horrified and ashamed of this continuous warmongering through US foreign policy

      • marc b.
        January 6, 2012, 2:15 pm

        kathleen, i had the misfortune of catching the tail end of the diane rehm show while out in my car on business. a caller asked the talking heads whether we shouldn’t just let israel and iran sort out a bi-lateral treaty banning the development and use of nuclear weapons on their own. tom gjelten nearly burst his depends in response, bumbling on with a 30-second comparison of iran and n.korea. now that’s real political insight. iran = north korea.

      • Froggy
        January 6, 2012, 4:47 pm

        Kathleen, I can’t imagine anyone over there listening to me. I’d be told ‘we saved yer butts in WW2’. -lol-

        I lived in the US for many years. I was living in Manhattan on 9/11. I don’t understand where this adoration of war comes from. Do Americans feel they missed out on something? Does it come from watching too many war films? Does it come from watching Guts and Glory specials on the History Channel?

        Americans need a bit more real-world experience. -smile- Here’s one. Several years ago I was tidying up after breakfast. It was a beautiful summer day, and the kids were down on the beach collecting moules for dinner. The house was quiet for once. Suddenly there was banging at the door. Through the glass I saw the faces of my two nearest neighbours, distressed, gesticulating, telling me bombs had been found on the beach and they were evacuating the lower village. Just then I saw two gendarmes striding up the path. They nodded, and informed me that I had to leave at once. No, I could NOT go to the beach. The village children had already been evacuated by boat and taken to the city across the bay. I grabbed my sandals, and dressed in a washed-out pinafore, without bothering to lock the doors took off barefoot down the drive to the village, as the men went to warn other neighbours. I went from house to house, looking in on the elderly, and decided to organise a lunch at the restaurant so they would all be together at the detonation. By now helicopters were flying all around.

        My genial English husband was in the upper village getting bread when they detonated the THREE 75mm American bombs. (I was in the restaurant with the old people when the bombs went off. I had never heard anything so loud in my life.) My husband who had been doing errands, and who had no idea what was going on, remarked to the old lady that sells the bread that it sounds like they were bombing the lower village. She looked at him and replied, ‘They are.’ He tried to get home but found the lower village was cordoned off, and he couldn’t get through. My eldest son rang him from Paris, close to hysterical. He’d heard the new on the radio, rang the house, and there was no response from me. (I’d only taken my sandals, remember.) Now my husband couldn’t get through.

        The concussion brought down a wall that had stood since the Middle Ages, and put a crack in a load-bearing house wall. Just stuff. Stuff can be repaired.

        European children are routinely warned about touching metal objects. Tides come in, tides go out, water moves rocks, and a boy walking his dog sees the bombs uncovered after sixty years, and reports them to the police.

        They found a live bomb on the site of the Olympic games in London. They find them several times a year in the coastal cities of Caen, Brest, Lorient, with the evacuation and detonation. Standard stuff over here. They even find unexploded WW1 ordinance in Belgium. It’s called The Iron Harvest. Sometimes they go off and kill people.

        They shot my teenage uncles and other boys on the village beach, right where the fishing boats come in, and where we go to celebrate Bastille Day.

        The village war memorial is over 2-stories high, and even then it can’t accommodate all the names. I once lived in a town of similar size on Long Island. There were five names on its war memorial.

        My English husband’s family were bombed out in London.

        War isn’t a film. It doesn’t end after 72 minutes. You can’t buy popcorn. They don’t have intermissions.

        More French civilians were killed in the D-Day operations than were Allied soldiers. It couldn’t be helped, but that too is war.

        War is children burning to death in their beds. War is teenagers shot on the beach. War is a housewife asking ‘why… why…?’ War is eating rats. War is famine.

        Americans think they’re immune. They’re not. Determination will always find a way.

        Fiona, from the Land of Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkeys

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 6, 2012, 5:10 pm


        This was a great post.

        “Kathleen, I can’t imagine anyone over there listening to me. I’d be told ‘we saved yer butts in WW2′. -lol-”

        And the correct response would be: “No, the Soviet Union saved everybody’s butts” and then laugh at the look of incomprehension mixed with rage.

        Seriously, though, I think that since there has been no war on American soil since 1965, “war,” in the American experience, is soldiers with rucksacks marching off to fight “over there” followed by parades and yellow ribbons welcoming them home some time later.

        We don’t see the dead bodies, the killed and raped civilians or live with the consequences, generations later, of having manufactured hell unleashed on your land. Sure, there are burned and broken bodies of the soldiers, men waking up shaking and sweating from nightmares for decades, and addictions and other ill effects caused from inadequate attempts to self-treat PSTD, but we ignore those things.

        So, no, Americans, by and large, have no idea what war is really about. We glorify it, we celebrate it, and some of us positively crave it (as it will, no doubt, be fought against other people, elsewhere, on their land, and increasingly via Wi-Fi with drones.)

      • Kathleen
        January 6, 2012, 5:46 pm

        Come on Froggy give it a try. The Rehm show and Washington Journal love long distance calls. Give it a shot. We need you. The people of Iran need you. Come on help try to wake Americans up. Ask the MSM folks why they keep allowoing unsubstantiated claims about Iran to be repeated? Not enough people dead for them? Are they incapable of learning anything. Just some fu—-ing (sorry Phil) questions for heavens sake

        No one has verified that they are making a nuclear weapon. No one. Ask the host and guest why there is not more pressure to get Israel to sign the NPT. Come on Please….

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2012, 9:23 pm

        Froggy, loved your comment. I don’t think any American political leader would give it the time of day, except Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich.

      • Froggy
        January 7, 2012, 1:20 am

        Woody, that is exactly what my son said. (He was 13 at the time.) Real war is your own dead children.

        Every year we get visitors from the US. This isn’t a tousism thing. They stay with us. As I work, they have to entertain themselves. So they go to the beach, take walks, walk to the shops. I watch their faces. After ten days or so they mutter something like ‘I had no idea’.

        On their walks they have come upon the small plaques on the many cairns on the spots along the paths where the teenagers who assisted the Résistance were shot. We go to a concert at the local church, and there’s the 2+ storey high war memorial where all the names don’t fit. Around the corner on the way to the butcher are the immaculately-kept and decorated graves of the young British fliers whose plane crashed off our beach, now tended by the people in this small Breton village. We go to the medieval city to buy some shoes for the kids, and there is the memorial to the headmaster of the city’s Catholic academy who was taken away and tortured to death by the Gestapo for his work with the Résistance, his last words smuggled out to his pupils praised the beauty that is life.

        The point is this: This could happen anywhere in France, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the Baltics, The Balkans, Greece, or a similar story in Asia, anywhere the war went through, like the murderous whirlwind it was.

        One strange memory I have from childhood. An American Jewish woman was standing on the street in Paris shrieking at my mother and her close friend, a French woman from Normandy, for the French ‘doing nothing’ (her words) to ‘save the Jews’. My mother’s brothers were shot for hiding Jews, and my mother’s friend was a child freezing in a basement in a house with the roof blown off and snow drifting in, half-starved. I have no idea what this woman expected these children, as they were at that time, or their parents, to do. Oddly enough, 76% of France’s Jews survived the war (mostly due to French bloody-mindedness). I wish it had been more. I have often thought of this humiliating scene and wondered what attempts that American woman’s family made to assist the Jews of Europe. Or anyone in Europe, for that matter.

      • Duscany
        January 8, 2012, 12:09 am


        These are wonderful, poignant memories. I’m impressed by your revelation that more French civilians than Allied soldiers died in the Normandy invasion.

        Many years ago when I was a young Naval officer I attended with a few other people a festival in a small town in the mountains north of Cannes. An elderly Frenchman who had perhaps had a little too much to drink began screaming (with tears running down his cheeks) that we Americans had killed his family in WWII.

        The local cops, aware that he was half drunk, gently shepherded him away. Even so, I was shocked at the accusation. His reaction seemed so extreme. I was too defensive to understand where he was coming from.

        I hope you keep writing here. I love your perceptive (and wonderfully detailed) point of view.

        By the way, not all Americans are thrilled about yet another war. Most thoughtful Americans are anti-war, at least right after the last one. But then after 25 years we forget. It also doesn’t help that the media tends to think of war as the greatest thing since cable TV.

  4. Kathleen
    January 6, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Catholics are as likely as other Christians to buy Santorum’s fake family values hiding behind warmongering and his stances against real pro life issues like health care etc. People who like to hide selfish not real Christian values behind little crosses and religious rhetoric…family values, pro life yada yada like Santorum. Great talk…little to no walk

  5. Kathleen
    January 6, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Has anyone read ” The Theo Cons” by Damon LInker. A good read. I knew a bit about the Catholic theocons…but this book is expanding my understanding

  6. MLE
    January 6, 2012, 3:13 pm

    I don’t see Santorum really selling his ideas in the long run, he may have what some rural Iowan bible thumpers want, but he has no solution for the economy, which is what this election is going to be about. Plus, he wants to get into another quagmire in the Middle East with Iran- just as soldiers are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, America is in no mood for that, no matter how scary Iran looks. Even social issues like gay marriage and abortion, Americans really aren’t that concerned in 2012. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and the military continued to function, its not Americans top priority.

    As much as I agree with Ron Paul on Israel, his domestic policies just make it impossible for me to vote for him. I do want him to run for third party simply because I want him to be in the debates to confront Obama face to face on his foreign policy choices. If he ran third party, I might vote for him, since he would split the Republican vote enough to ensure they don’t succeed and I wouldn’t have to vote for Obama.

  7. gazacalling
    January 6, 2012, 4:08 pm

    Here’s a good post on Altcatholicah making the case for Ron Paul.

    Catholics are a swing vote for a reason.

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