Martin Sheen and other dinosaurs of Catholic liberalism

Eager not to miss any detail about the flaming ball of crazy that is Charlie Sheen, I recently spent a little time reading about his father, actor and TV-world president emeritus Martin Sheen. In some circles, you may know, Martin is recognized as one of Hollywood’s stalwart Catholics, having famously chosen his stage name after Fulton Sheen and palled around with Dorothy Day, and perhaps more extraordinarily, going to Mass every week and speaking unapologetically and unironically about his faith.

Sheen is also a left-coast activist of the first water, lending himself over the years to the full menu of liberal causes—environmentalism, worker and immigrant rights, anti-nukes—and vocally supporting liberal politicians. He campaigned for Howard Dean, for God’s sake.

On the other hand, Sheen adheres to a pro-life stance of the seamless-garment variety, supporting left-wing pro-life groups and, if the stories are to be believed, intervening to rescue from abortion the products of his sons’ youthful indiscretions.

Sheen credits his Catholic formation for his liberal social views. It occurs to me that in this he is a product of his time. Like others of his generation—I think of the pugnaciously liberal “Kennedy Catholics” native to my New England home—for Sheen being Catholic meant (even before factoring in the impact of liberalizing trends in theology, liturgy, biblical criticism, and psychology that so colored the Vatican II era) being on the left. It was the left that supported Catholic immigrants and working poor, the unions they joined, and the programs and policies that helped them get a leg up. It was the left that pursued civil rights efforts consonant with Catholic social teaching. It was the left (albeit not exclusively) that advocated a tough and active response to godless Communism.

Yes, maybe it was La-La Land and not the Church that influenced Martin Sheen’s decision to stand against Canadian sealing, but by and large you can see how his religion and his politics have sprung from a common stump.

But are there more Sheens to come?

By that I mean: are the Catholics being formed in our day likely to identify with political liberalism; more, to identify their faith with it?

With all due stipulations about the dangers of making one’s own sliver of experience generally normative, virtually all my good friends and casual acquaintances who are practicing, orthodox Catholics also line up on the political right. The larger friend-circles and increased flow of ideas fostered by Facebook, blogging, email, and other technologies have only magnified this impression. There are always exceptions, of course (some of them are fellow bloggers at InsideCatholic), and not everyone fits into a tidy political box, but it remains the case that the great majority of orthodox Catholics I know are also political conservatives, and the Catholics I know who subscribe to or even dabble in liberalism tend, in equally overwhelming numbers, also to dissent from Church teaching on certain matters of faith or morals.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: our friendships are self-selected and thus our friends will reflect ourselves. I’m a conservative and so it makes sense that my friends should be as well. All of us, wherever we fall on the political spectrum, tend to live in echo chambers.

Fair enough. But even recognizing that likelihood and controlling for it, I can’t help but sense a substantial re-alignment of faith and politics: a future trend in which the past affinity between Catholicism and left-wing politics is being replaced by an equally strong affinity—a presumption of affinity—between Catholicism and the political right.

Here are some reasons, most of which I imagine are obvious enough:

  • The left’s increasing preference for secularism and moral liberalism (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, etc) over traditional religion and moral conservatism.
  • Conversely, what has become the nearly unilateral (if still hardly perfect) representation of social-conservative and traditional-religious interests by the political right.
  • The diminishment of organized labor as a binding force. The American manufacturing sector itself is greatly diminished overall, of course, and the sons and grandsons of factory workers are lawyers and I.T. specialists now.
  • The influence of Evangelical Protestantism, whose predominantly Southern adherents have just completed their own migration from Left to Right.
  • The success, or final bankruptcy, of liberal ideas and activism. There’s a growing sense that the civil rights movement has largely accomplished its aims, for example. And children (American children, anyway) don’t work 14-hour days at the old mill anymore. Meanwhile there seems to be a burgeoning public epiphany—hard economic times have helped, as they’re learning in Wisconsin—about the excesses or negative outcomes of Big Labor, the welfare state, environmentalism, political correctness, radical feminism, and other ideological components of the liberal coalition.
  • The ongoing work of conservative and libertarian think tanks, researchers, theologians, politicians, and bloggers to harmonize Catholicism with conservative ideas: the free market, national security, self-determination, smaller government. Moreover, their efforts to present these ideas as of one cloth with those that Catholicism and conservatism already clearly share: subsidiarity, respect for tradition, family, and moral codes, a belief in personal responsibility and accountability.
  • Finally, and probably the hardest to quantify or defend, what I call a revolutionary sensibility among younger (under, ahem, 45 or so) orthodox Catholics. This can be observed, for example, in families that homeschool (or start their own independent schools) rather than send their kids to the local parish or Catholic high school. It’s a sense of disdain, or at least suspicion, towards the creaking machinery of the institutional Church. These same Catholics who got tired of being poorly served by a generation of fuzzy-headed or indifferent bishops, priests, and lay collaborators—in catechesis, in liturgy, in ministry, in pastoral guidance, in higher education, in youth formation—and so turned instead to EWTN, Catholic Answers, Franciscan University, and the Couple to Couple League to “get fed,” may also instinctively be rejecting the residual political liberalism that persists in many chanceries and Catholic colleges.

So I’ll end with questions: is this really happening? What do you think of my reasons, and are there others? If you’re a faithful Catholic who still identifies with the political left, do you think that on the contrary yours is a flourishing breed? I thank you.

Todd M. Aglialoro


Todd M. Aglialoro is the acquisitions editor for Catholic Answers.

  • Rich Browner

    Most of those who identify first as Orthodox Catholics will almost certainly identify as Republicans or conservatives, or both; or at least identify as right leaning.

    Thankfully, I know many (myself included) who first identify as followers of Jesus and his Gospel message (then as Catholics), and then interpret for themselves, with the help of our Church, how to act politically. Im 43, and I chafe at the baggage that the word Orthodox carries. This is not to say I do not live an Orthodox Catholic life. Take all that for whatever it’s worth.

    I have to say MOST of the Catholics I know do not first identify as Orthodox Catholics, nor do they first identify as followers of Jesus’ gospel message. They simply identify as Catholics.

    It is a poverty that we have so few in either camp.

    I was VERY glad to see the updated reprint of Ryan Barilleaux’s piece from some years ago on the IC site today. We need more of that kind of thinking, I believe.

  • Barbara C.

    I was born in the late ’70s, and what I’m seeing is a generation of Catholics that are becoming orthodox through extensive reading and critical thinking. We are learning what our Church really teaches, comparing it to our previously held beliefs, and then finding to our shock that the Church is often right even when we don’t want it to be.

    I think politically, though, it is making us former Catholic Democrats more politically cynical. Many of our objections to the Republican Party are still valid but we also see that the Democratic party cares more about keeping abortion legal than almost anything else. I think a lot of us consider ourselves conservative Independents caught in the middle.

    “This can be observed, for example, in families that homeschool (or start their own independent schools) rather than send their kids to the local parish or Catholic high school. It’s a sense of disdain, or at least suspicion, towards the creaking machinery of the institutional Church.”

    That might be true among ultra-conservatives, but I think a lot of it comes down to money and a distrust of traditional education in general. We have four kids and live on one modest income. I joke that I couldn’t afford to send my kids to public school by the time you figure in the cost of all the little extras (fund raising, lunches, parties, better clothes, etc). There is no way we could afford private school. Catholic schools, with the exception of including religious education, pretty much run on the same educational model as public schools. I think homeschoolers also tend to have suspicion against all societal institutions but most Catholic homeschoolers have more faith in the institutional Church than other things.

  • Billy Bean

    It seems to me, as one reared in a Catholic and Democratic home, that the evolution of the Left toward Big Government Solutions and centralization forced many of us to confront a painful dilemma: We championed freedom and the value of the person, while simultaneously expecting government to solve all of our problems. There is a tension inherent in these two positions that cannot be sustained forever.

  • Leslie

    Rule #3: Don’t make judgments about the other person’s sinfulness or salvation. You are not the Inquisition.

    Shouldn’t this rule apply to IC bloggers, as well as those who comment?

    So, most people who aren’t political conservatives, according to Todd, aren’t particularly moral or particulary good Catholics? I am pro-life and pro-tradtional marriage, go to Mass once a week, confession once a week, and practice NFP. However, I probably agree with MS on his stand on war, nuclear weapons and a good bit on the environment. I didn’t realize my conscience had to be formed by Rush Limbaugh and the gang over at The Corner in order to be a good Catholic.

  • Jason Negri

    I think part of it is backlash against what we see are some failed ideals of liberalism.

    But I think more of the reason goes to your first bullet point, Todd. People don’t go to church anymore just because society expects it. Quite the opposite – it costs us something to be faithful. So if you’re looking to analyze this subset of the population (young Catholics) you have to realize that, perhaps to a greater degree than previous generations needed to be, we are Catholic because we really believe this stuff. We take it seriously. And if truth matters to us, we’re going to gravitate toward the political party that at least talks about the enduring social values that correspond to these truths, like promoting the traditional family, pro-life, justice and personal responsibility. Hence, we’re political conservatives in today’s climate.

  • CPMH

    the full menu of liberal causes

  • Carl


    environmentalism—global warming is a hypothesis at best and over burdening

  • Todd M. Aglialoro

    Barbara: that’s a good point about the diversity of homeschoolers’ motives. My larger point, however, goes beyond homeschoolers (who were just an example) to the Catholic counter-culture that has sprung up over the last 20-30 years, rejecting not just worldliness but the staleness, banality, and liberalism (where it was to be found) in the institutional Church. The explosion of orthodox lay apostolates (comparable to what Protestants call “para church” organizations) attests to this.

    Leslie, two points: First, of course I never said any of those things. One doesn’t have to be a political conservative to be an orthodox Catholic; it is my experience, though, that orthodox Catholics tend to lean rightward politically, and left-leaning Catholics tend to harbor heterodox convictions on one thing or another. I said there were exceptions, of course, and I stipulated that many people’s matrix of political beliefs defies easy characterization as liberal or conservative. So I think I covered my bases there.

    Second thing: your response and Rich’s (though fundamentally different: he agrees that “orthodox” Catholics tend to be conservative but defies the very notion or importance of “orthodoxy,” whereas you reject the first premise), to my eyes, only underscore the transition that has occurred and continues to occur; the transition that was the subject of my post. For decades the default Catholic position in this country was to be a Democrat with left-leaning political sensibilities. People took this for granted. They gloried in it. And yet now that the left has lost its stranglehold on American Catholics (I speculated as to some reasons why this is), remaining Catholic liberals have gotten extraordinarily defensive, posing themselves as mavericks. How quickly and how fully things have changed! I would just ask those left-leaning Catholics not to forget that their reversion to beleaguered minority is a very recent phenomenon.

    CPMH: Point granted (and there’s no reason, of course, why a liberal cause can’t also be a Catholic cause). But only to a certain degree. Stewardship of God’s creation is a Catholic idea; cap & trade, Arctic drilling bans, punitive energy taxes, earth-worship, and so on are leftist political ideas. The rights and dignity of workers and immigrants can be drawn from authentic Catholic teaching; powerful and politicized unions, business-killing minimum wage legislation, uncontrolled borders, and laws that sap local welfare budgets and deter immigrants’ inculturation are leftist political ideas. That the use of nuclear weapons on civilian targets is indefensible, and that we should generally strive for peace in the world, are Catholic truths; unilateral disarmament, castigating the military, and appeasement as foreign policy are liberal political ideas. So although it can be handy, for brevity’s sake, to use terms broadly, in the end you have to make the necessary distinctions.

  • Brian English

    Leslie and CPMH:

    Which party do you vote for in federal elections?

    It is my belief that over the last 30 years the Democratic Party has so thoroughly degraded itself that any Catholic who takes the teachings of the Church seriously, and who respects the order of priority the Church has assigned to those teachings, cannot possibly vote for a Democrat for President or for the Senate.

  • Eric Pavlat

    In 2004, I founded and incorporated Democrats for Life of Maryland. I resigned in 2010, convinced that Democrats in general were just off-target (greatly due to the pro-life Dems’ folding on the health-care bill). I still have as many reservations as ever about the Republican party, as Barbara C. articlulated so well.

    The attempts to align church teaching with libertarianism and conservativatism (by the likes of Zmirak, Hargrave, and Fisher in these pages) have all rung false to me, just as Obama/Reid/Pelosi’s statements continue to fill me with dread.

    I’ve lost all faith in politics; the correct thought patterns aren’t even there, despite what I had previously thought about pro-life Democrats. Subsidiarity is studiously ignored, prudence takes 18th place behind pragmatism and propoganda, and the Church’s teaching about the nature of human work has as much of their attention as Elmer Fudd does.

    I’m still a registered Democrat, so that I’m not locked out of the primaries (no Republicans ever win where I live). But I’m embarrassed by that registration.

    As far as I can tell, our Hyattsville Catholic community seems to be comprised of several “conservative independents” who dislike both political parties and maybe 2-4 Republicans who seem, to my ears, to equate the magesterium with the GOP platform. There are no happy Democrats–just a couple of disaffected, alientated ones.

    Todd, I liked your clarification to CPMH; very precise.

  • Michael

    @Rich: Why do you chafe at the words “orthodox catholic?” I wonder if perhaps we just share different definitions, but I take it as simply someone whose faith coincides with the teachings of the Catholic Church – all of it. In that case, I see orthodox living as a very freeing thing. It’s not always convenient, not hardly. Quite the contrary, it’s often very challenging. And I also do not see it as hanging up my reason and intellect on the coat rack and letting the Church do all the thinking for me. Instead, orthodox living brings a comfort to one’s life much like having faith in God. There is a security within it wherein I can let my reason and intellect be all that God intended it to be.

    As to political philosophies, I only differ with you in terms of terms and the application of them: Where you would say that first you are a follower of Jesus and then a Catholic, to me they are inseperable b/c I see the fullness of BEING a follower of Jesus IS IN being an orthodox Catholic. I think for a Catholic to draw distinctions b/t being a follower of Jesus and being Catholic is to not completely acknowledge the fundamental importance of one’s faith in their salvation.

    Unlike the radio blowhards (a la Rush, Hannity, et al) who, in my opinion, seem to put their political ideologies before anything else, when I go into the voting booth, I vote not as a republican or a democrat or as a conservative or as a liberal but as an orthodox Catholic. It is through those lenses that I see the world and, therefore, all associated choices I make, including political ones. In this regard, I think Todd is hitting it square on the head. There HAS been a fundamental shift from the norm being the Catholic Democrat to being the Catholic Republican. Or, the Catholic Right instead of the Catholic Left. And I think this is a VERY good thing.

  • Stuart

    I confess that I am a Catholic Liberal. I support labor, believe in health care for all, protection of the environment, and nuclear disarmament. As well as all those other “big government” programs that others disdain as long as they are for the benefit of the public good. But I am also pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. This of course would ailienate me from my more liberal friends. But I don’t care, for they have ailienated themselves. I agree with the Democrats on most issues, but I cannot support them on the issue of abortion. And I cannot in good conscience support the Republicans with my ideals and some of their far-right cohorts. Therefore I am left as a man without a party.

    I consider myself a practicing Catholic, but I reject the label of “orthodox” because it carries negative connotations. We belong to one holy, apostolic, and catholic church and we follow one pope and one bishop, not one pope and a bishop in another diocese that some like. When we start applying labels to each other and begin to think in terms of who is a better catholic than another or defy our local bishops because he is not “orthodox” enough, we allow schismatic thinking to permeate our church and this is wrong.

  • Jim B

    Leslie sid: “I didn’t realize my conscience had to be formed by Rush Limbaugh and the gang over at The Corner in order to be a good Catholic.”

    Exactly. Yet so many do, and you can throw Hannity into the mix as well. He lost it with me after his trashing of Fr. Tom on camera over birth control. Then there was his theological debate with Michael Moore over Moore’s latest film. (Talk about dumb and dumberer !)

    I have come to the conclusion that Republican / Democrat / Liberal / Conservative is a false dichotomy and neither fits into “Catholic”. Both are square pegs in a round hole, but the bottom line is (for me) the Republicans are the lesser of two evils, but that does not merit blind following on all issues.

  • Beehive

    I hold no brief for the Republican Party (aka The Stupid Party) but the Democrats, in adhering to their two sacraments Abortion and Sodomy, lose Catholic support from the start.

  • Marisa

    I agree with most of this article, except for the civil rights part. The political Left in America did NOT completely support Civil Rights Legislation, particularly the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was Republicans who pushed the bill through, not Democrats.…ct_of_1964

  • Rich Browner

    Stuart said very well my take on the word orthodox. I try to live as faithful a life as I can, and most people I know, were they to see the inner workings of my mind and life, would certainly say, I am an orthodox Catholic. The problem is the labeling, and then the sense of superiority that often ensues.

    There are multitudes of people that seem to be indicted as lesser Catholics because they are at different points of growth spiritually or earnestly struggle with issues of conscience and dont immediately identify as ORTHODOX Catholics. I see all of us as working our way toward the light together. Others see infidels, apostates, heretics or heathen equivocators.

    I do understand the need for lines and clear definitions, and I am by no means saying that someone who identifies as orthodox is wrong to do so. I was simply speaking for myself as someone who has more than once experienced the Pharisaical side of some who perceive themselves as righteous among throngs who are not.

    Todd, I would be careful in stating that that appeasement, the castigation of the military and total disarmament are liberal ideas. Engaging the world while seeking peace is not the same as the hyperbole you contend here.

  • Michael

    Rich, I certainly see your point and i too have seen this self-congratulatory triumphalism of which you speak. I have fallen into it, and i think we all have a temptation to do so if humility is not a virtue we possess in spades.

    However, if you don’t want to call adherence and fidelity to church teaching “orthodoxy,” what DO you want to call it? It’s really not the word, it’s the sin of pride, is it not? I know many orthodox Catholics who are very humble people and when they see someone who is heterodox, the last thing they would do is call them an apostate or a heretic. (BTW, interesting choice of words, using “infidel” Rich – don’t we want to leave the poor, beseiged Muslims alone for a change? ). I would hope that the proper response when we encounter someone who is in error (an infidel, an apostate, a heathen, etc) would be to lovingly provide correction. In fact, isn’t that one of the spiritual works of mercy?

    I also have to heartily disagree w/ your statent that “we’re all working our way towards the light together.” THAT, my friend, IS heresy, and if you follow that line of thought to it’s conclusion, what it sounds like you’re saying is that there is no sin and no hell. While some people may have bad formation or may just not quite “be” there yet (that categorizes all of us to some degree, doesn’t it?) there are some who actively work against the truth, against the church, and many of these people are within the church. To fail to acknowledge this is myopia of the worse kind.

    Lastly, please give me examples where appeasement, military castigation or total disarmament ever helped bring about peace? The Church does not endorse these platforms. Even the Vatican has an arms cache.

  • CPMH

    worker and immigrant rights—examples please, do you mean the people who cross our borders illegally? Catholics are also expected to respect legitimate laws of host nations!

    Please. Even though some, natives and immigrants, break laws, should anyone assume another has broken a law or is now guilty of breaking one? If you agree one should not, then why do you ask if I am referring to immigrants who have entered the country illegally? If you don’t agree, then perhaps you are in the wrong country, for in this one you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a legitimate trial.

    There are over 50 million immigrants legally in this country but instead of immediately agreeing that they have rights which need to be defended you preferred to draw attention to a minority of immigrants who are guilty of breaking a law. No one is entitled to break a just law, non-immigrants of course included. Indeed, no one is entitled to do anything unjust, whether it is legal or not. So why aren’t you chasing unjust people according to the gravity of their crimes and not their immigration status?

    anti-nukes—are you talking about responsible use or extreme pacifism which is not a social teaching?

    What do you mean by “responsible use” of a nuclear weapon? Do you mean using them (i) only as a method of psychologically deterring others from using theirs but without any intent to deploy, (ii) with an intent to use them if others attack, (iii) with the intent to use them preemptively, or (iv) something else? In addition do you mean building more nuclear weapons or not? Selling them or not?

  • CPMH

    Meant “…why do you ask if I am referring to immigrants who have entered the country illegally?

  • Carl

    Immigration and Nationality Act

    Section 101. (3) The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.

    An alien under the good graces of our great nation administered by our law grants the privilege of entering our borders. If same alien abides by our rules and petitions as prescribed by law citizenship or nationalization then said alien has

  • Carl


  • Carl

    The unceasing clamoring for

  • Aaron B.

    The problem with “immigrant rights” for illegal aliens is that instead of meaning the right to be treated humanely under the law, it now means the right to social services — including, in California, a cheaper college education than out-of-state American students can get. By all means, Catholics and their parishes should treat illegal aliens with decency and respect, even helping them with food and shelter if needed — while insisting that government enforce the law.

    I think Todd’s central point is correct, as long as it’s understood that we’re talking about small-c “conservative” and traditional, and not the entirely and boringly predictable knee-jerk assumption that “conservative” means GOP membership and an adherence to the gospel of Limbaugh. In a general sense, we’re talking about people who have an appreciation for the wisdom of their ancestors, and who think big government is (at least) as likely to be the cause of problems as the solution.

    For a left-leaning Catholic like Sheen, the ’60s and ’70s must have been a pretty heady time. It must have seemed like the Church was sliding, even accelerating, leftward. I bet in 1974, most liberal Catholics would have told you that by 2010 we’d surely have women priests, approval of birth control, etc. So they stayed in the Church to enjoy the ride.

    For a lefist Catholic today, things look a lot less rosy. The last two popes have each been more conservative than their predecessor — the current one is German, of all things, and was nicknamed God’s Rottweiler! His episcopal appointments have been decidedly orthodox. The Latin Mass, which they thought they killed off 40 years ago, is back and growing in popularity. Non-Catholics are showing up at NFP classes because they sense that listening to your body is better than artificially blocking its functions. Catholic homeschoolers, for whatever reason they reject the public and parochial schools, are increasingly organized and savvy and their kids are stomping the competition in the college entrance tests. Socialism is still soundly rejected by the Church, and Catholics who study economics are increasingly focusing on distributism and other alternatives built on a base of capitalism instead.

    We’re a long way from fixing everything that’s gone wrong in the last several decades; but to the leftist Catholic, it has to seem like the party peaked in about 1975, and things have been downhill since then with the occasional bright spot. So I suspect that the Sheens of today, seeing few signs that the Church is headed their direction, are much more likely to simply leave, which leaves the more conservative/traditional types to pick up the slack.

  • TA

    Though liberal Catholicism is replete with problems, the insitutional Church in Rome and in the US, does not share your interpretation of Catholicism. Your views are wishful thinking at best.

  • CPMH

    Carl — We are discussing the rights of immigrants some of who may be ‘aliens’ while others are naturalized citizens. All are human and have human rights endowed by God. There are 38 million immigrantslegally in the US: 3.9% from Africa, 27.7% from Asia, 12.7 from from Europe, 53.1 % from Latin America.

    There are also the descendants of these immigrants born in the United States but not included in the figure above. Thus there are approximately 50 million Hispanics (native and foreign born).

    Immigrants (native or foreign born) are often discriminated against, as in this article, so they must be protected. Do you agree?

    On worker rights Yes, God is first in the hierarchy and he created humans who he said must work (Genesis) and thus may be referred to as ‘workers’. Human/workers are created in the image of God. Their rights as humans and workers must be respected.

    As you partially of point out, governments and corporations are abstract entities created by some humans. They are supposedly created to serve all humans in the first case (not just the wealthiest or those seeking to create wealth for a few), and to bring a profit to a minority of humans who own them in the second. In order to bring a profit to its shareholders a corporation cannot violate human rights. Do you agree? Government and corporations must serve the rights of humans and therefore of workers.

    But corporations often do not respect the human dignity and rights of workers so the latter must be defended. Therefore, the government created by humans to serve all humans under its jurisdiction must protect them from corporations who violate the rights of many humans in order to enrich a few. You don’t oppose that, right?

    But governments are, as you well said, created by humans and not directly by God. Therefore humans must remain in control of them and that is where the problem lies. Most humans don’t spend much time with the details of that except once very four years. In the interim they trust government to control itself through the divisions of power and the constitution, etc. But this can be messy and can be abused. But do you have a better alternative to propose?

    • Micha Elyi

      “…the government created by humans to serve all humans under its jurisdiction…”

      It’s a cookbook!

      “…must protect them from corporations who violate the rights of many humans in order to enrich a few.”

      That’s boob bait those who are eager to greedily loot corporations then eat you for dessert use to lure you into the pot.

      P.S. Careless use of the word “rights” renders one especially susceptible to the lure. Please be specific about what you’re labeling “rights” and identify how they are being violated by “corporations.”

  • Manny

    You forget that the modern conservative movement started with Bill Buckley and his Catholic orientation. There were a lot of Catholics writing for National Review, and there still are. But you’re right. Catholics are definitely moving over to the right in substantial numbers. Even those that consider themselves Democrats think of themselves as moderate to conservative Democrats. Excellent blog.

  • CPMH

    Manny — It’s easy to get caught viewing our faith through divisive politics but it’s just a temptation. Catholics should be most concerned about their salvation and that of others, not left or right, etc. This article got caught up in the current climate and made the mistake of attacking immigrants as if many of them were either not human or Catholic, or citizens.

    Here are some remarkable findings about one group of US immigrants, Hispanics, according to Georgetown’ Cara 2008 study: “Sacraments Today:Belief and Practice among U.S. Catholics”. It’s not God’s word, just demographics and religious sociology. Perhaps it will help inter-ethnic intra-Catholic understanding.

    28 % of US Catholics are Hispanics.(footnote 12 – CARA created a weight to bring up the percentage of Hispanics/Latinos in the poll to 35 percent from 28 percent.)

    “Hispanics are slightly less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have celebrated each of the three sacraments (86 percent compared to 95 percent for the Eucharist; 83 percent compared to 94 percent for Reconciliation; and 75 percent compared to 88 percent for Confirmation).”

    “Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to say it is

  • CPMH

    I meant “Access and Practice of The Catholic Faith Is Most Important for Eternal Salvation”.

  • Carl


  • Todd M. Aglialoro

    Immigration is another area that clearly should be informed by Catholic teaching. And I agree that immigration brings with it many benefits that some bitter or xenophobic right-wingers might ignore.

    But it’s complicated. The left supports “immigrant rights,” and is reluctant to take steps against illegal immigration, as much because of its multicultural ideology (which is anti-Western and indifferentist), and because it stands to benefit politically from greater numbers of immigrants (whom liberal politicians treat as their private constituency) as much as for any affinity for Catholic teaching on Welcoming the Stranger.

    Likewise, the right’s desire for immigration reform, and for stricter control over illegal immigration, can be viewed — through Catholic eyes — as legitimate exercises of its national-security purview. And its desire to inculturate immigrants into American society, rather than accomodating them in ways that lead to cultural Balkanization, can be viewed (again from an authentic Catholic perspective) as the best thing for the country and the immigrants themselves.

    So I think it’s impossible to converse in this area without admitting a great number of nuances and qualifications. Something which both the left and the right too often have failed to do.

  • Brian English

    “So I think it’s impossible to converse in this area without admitting a great number of nuances and qualifications. Something which both the left and the right too often have failed to do.”

    And illegal immigration is not strictly a left-right issue. One good example of this is the Wall Street Journal, which is usually characterized as a right-wing paper, but is basically pro-amnesty for illegal immigrants.

  • John2

    I don’t speak for all opponents, but I will point out that the illegal pays thousands to a criminal enterprise for the privilege of being smuggled into the country. This is a serious sin for the illegal; it leads to the same for many others. It creates eternal problems as well as heavy penalties in the earthly realm.

    The purpose of these “immigrants” is to steal, to take what is not theirs to take. In the process, they finance a large criminal enterprise that would not exist if they were honest. Each alien

  • CPMH

    A mass prayer campaign is in order here.

    So what will you to pray to Jesus for?

  • John2

    “So what will you to pray to Jesus for?”

    The parade of sinners. Could you really not figure that out?

  • CPMH

    The parade of sinners. Could you really not figure that out?

    So if you, and those who agree with you, are the saints, who are the sinners? The poor? The immigrants? Those immigrants which you believe are unjustly and illegally here?

  • CPMH

    I should have written “who” and not “which”, when referring to immigrants, for “they” (the antecedent to the pronoun) are “human beings”, created in God’s image and not mere “things”. I therefore correct myself:

    Those immigrants who you believe are unjustly and illegally here?

  • John2

    Dear CPMH,

    I am not a saint, although I hope to become one.

    As for the identity of the parade of sinners, it looks like you cannot figure anything out. I hope you are pretending to be mentally limited. I could understand if you were merely a liberal poseur who thinks it is fun to higgle haggle over every shade of meaning for obvious and clear words. I would enjoy the parallel between your disquisition on

  • Lisa

    Todd, I hope you are correct in your post.

    For the past century we’ve watched the politicizing of the Catholic Church by the Democrat party and the far Left to achieve their socialistic agenda.

    After decades of moving to the political left it only appears the Church is moving to the political right. It appears this way because the left purposely infuses politics into everything. The Church(laity, clergy, etc) in America is experiencing a course correction. It is a move towards the Church correcting 40 years of errors in Church teaching, the strengthening of Church teaching, and obedience to Church teachings.

    As a Catholic I am glad the brakes are being applied!!

  • CPMH

    …who thinks it is fun to higgle haggle over every shade of meaning for obvious and clear words.

    Correct grammar is necessary to communicate what one means. It is not at all “obvious and clear”, as you claim, that “which” and “who” refer to the same type of entity, for they do not. One refers to a thing and another to a person, a distinction that must be applied when referring to immigrants or any other social group. That you don’t consider it important is something you should think about and change if you truly wish to be a saint.

    I would enjoy the parallel between your disquisition on

  • John2

    Gosh, CPMH,

    You are back at it, maintaining that you are unable to figure out who the parade of sinners are. This signals a great misfortune. I find it painful to watch; I hope the condition is not permanent.

    Just to take a stab — Could this be a little debating trick? Do not admit you can comprehend this? I feel certain that you can. In fact, I feel certain you have already done so, but you don’t want to take it further.

    I don’t blame you, the pro-illegal-alien side is a comprehensive loser.

    So be it.

  • Nicole

    There’s no need to read more into this article than is there, or take it more personally than it was intended. If the shoe fits, wear it; if not, make a note and move on.

  • Joe Garcia

    I think, for the most part, this entry is correct.

    Mind you, as someone of Cuban extraction, growing up EVERYONE I knew in our immediate circle was both Catholic and Republican. The reasons for why Cuban immigrants gravitated pretty exclusively to conservatism are well afield of this discussion, but it bears noting that as time marches and more of the children and grandchildren of the original exiles become inculturated to American norms, some of them begin to drift leftwards and, intriguingly, begin to express heterodox opinions on Church teaching.

    Me? I find the generally libertarian/conservative end of the political spectrum easiest to harmonize with Catholic teaching, such as I understand it. Also, it seems (to me) far easier to defend such a harmonization by reasoned discourse than that of the Martin Sheens of the world.

  • Raymond Fernandez

    I disagree with everything you’ve asserted from how you feel catholics think to how the world works, to where we’re going, your view of unions as one example your article was more a regurgitation of right wing talking points via fox news then having anything to do with what would identify someone as catholic. We could go round and round but basically they are just differences in how we see virtually everything and way to subjective to argue about. What I would like to bring to your attention is a new poll showing that 63% american catholics being pro ssm marriage which if reduce that to 50% in your favor still shows that your assertions are incorrect half the time.

  • heavymethod

    “The diminishment of organized labor as a binding force. The American manufacturing sector itself is greatly diminished overall, of course, and the sons and grandsons of factory workers are lawyers and I.T. specialists now.”

    While I’m an IT specialist, believe in capitalism and have conservative family values – not Republican by any means what so ever and for sure not a liberal – I also believe that if we do not bring manufacturing back to this country we are in deep trouble as a nation. We are already owned by China and that is due to greedy lobbyist and failed policies along terrible lopsided trade agreements with China.My job is threatened daily as well.