Catholic voters heavily favored Obama, analysis shows
Friday, November 7, 2008
A large number of Catholic voters heavily contributed to Obama's huge margin of victory over McCain, according to an analysis of exit poll surveys by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Catholics voted for Obama over McCain by a nine-point margin (54 percent versus 45 percent). Their votes came despite warnings from 89 bishops who issued a blizzard of statements in the closing weeks of the election, warning against voting for a pro-choice candidate. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who last month termed Obama "the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973," led the effort. His - and other voices from church leaders - went unheeded.
Obama did especially well among Hispanics, who are overwhelmingly Catholic. Two-thirds of them voted for him compared with white Catholics, who voted for McCain 52 to 47 percent over Obama. The states that are most Catholic - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, went heavily for Obama.
In Lackawanna County, Pa., home of Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino, a fierce critic of Obama's pro-choice stance, the Illinois senator won 63 percent to 36 percent. The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit affiliated with the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said the economy was the biggest issue on Catholic minds. "Few said that abortion was the most important issue," he said. "In addition, the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Republican base chased Hispanics away from the Republican Party."
Obama pulled in greater numbers of voters who attend church more than once a week, garnering 43 percent of this group compared with the 39 percent who supported Kerry in 2004. But Obama's largest support base came from those who never attend church, 67 percent of whom voted for him.
A survey of Catholic college students published by The Cardinal Newman Society's (CNS) Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education finds that most students on Catholic campuses reject key Catholic moral values and tenets of the faith, and significant numbers engage in pre-marital sexuality activity and the viewing of pornography.
The study was released in the wake of Tuesday's presidential election, just as many commentators are looking for reasons why the Catholic vote broke the way it did in such large numbers for a pro-abortion candidate.
Most respondents say that the experience of attending a Catholic institution made no difference in their support for the Catholic Church or its teaching or their participation in Catholic Sacraments.
Key findings demonstrate that large numbers of students at Catholic colleges and universities are in clear conflict with the Catholic Church:
- Nearly 1 in 5 knew another student who had or paid for an abortion.
- 46% of current and recent students and 50% of females said they engaged in sex outside of marriage.
- 84% said they had friends who engaged in premarital sex.
- 60% agreed strongly or somewhat that abortion should be legal.
- 60% agreed strongly or somewhat that premarital sex is not a sin.
- 78% disagreed strongly or somewhat that using a condom to prevent pregnancy was a serious sin.
- 57% agreed strongly or somewhat that same-sex "marriage" should be legal.
- 57% said the experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.
- 54% of respondents said that their experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their support for the teachings of the Catholic Church.
- 56% said their experience had no effect on their respect for the Pope and bishops.
In April 2008 Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing the reality on many Catholic campuses, told Catholic college presidents gathered at The Catholic University of America that the Catholic faith must permeate all aspects of Catholic campus life.
"Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools?" the Holy Father asked the college presidents. "Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold. From this perspective one can recognize that the contemporary 'crisis of truth' is rooted in a 'crisis of faith'."
Observation: In his book, "SALT OF THE EARTH. The Church at the End of the Millennium," then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI revealed his thought that the Church would likely get smaller. He noted that it was already declining in the West, and thought that there would be small pockets of Catholics who intensely live their faith.
Have we reached that point already?