Now that the election is over, the post-game analysis and forecasts for the coming sessions will occupy the media for at least the next week or so. It’s also a good time to consider whether it makes sense for faithful Catholics to remain tied to the Democrat Party.Catholicism is the largest single religious communion in the United States; we number between one-fifth and one-quarter of the population. Being so large a bloc, if we voted as consistently as do black Protestants, we would have tremendous influence on public policy: we would not necessarily be able to impose what laws we wish, but we would be in a far better position to persuade the rest of the nation to go along.However, the political amity that my colleague, Dr. Denise Hunnell, so well described in “Elections and Eternity”, probably could be best described as the remnants of a temporary unity, brought on by the shared experiences of our political leaders in the Great Depression and World War II. The tension of subtly shifting values was manifesting itself even in the 1950s, and it finally erupted in the riots, protests, and violence that scarred the “Vietnam era”. Today, the “conservative Democrat” and the “liberal Republican” are mere memories, even oxymorons.The explosion, when it came, functionally split the Church in America in half. The split was further polarized when Ven. Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae; so certain had so many people been that the teaching on contraception would be changed that, when the pope forcefully restated it, the shocked and disillusioned abandoned the pews; weekly Mass attendance fell below 50% almost overnight. Even today, the “cultural” or “Christmas and Easter” Catholics are more likely to be liberal in their politics, while those who are highly active in their parishes are more likely to be conservative.
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