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US ELECTIONS/ Two Catholic candidates, but what about the Catholic voters?

RIRO MANISCALCO previews the debate tonight between the two Catholic Vice-Presidential candidates, Biden and Ryan, and discusses how Catholics will vote this year.

Ryan and Romney   (Infophoto) Ryan and Romney (Infophoto)

Is there such thing as a Catholic vote? On the eve of the Vice Presidential debate, this is a legitimate question. At least at first glance, it seems that there is not, since both candidates profess that they are practicing Catholics though they sit on opposite sides. This is the first time this has happened in American history. We will see what happens tonight, but in the meantime let’s try to understand where two “Super Catholic” politicians like Biden and Ryan come from.

Historically, the American Catholic world, for many decades and to a large extent, recognized itself on the democratic side. Human rights and social commitment have always been the flagships of the Democrats and the American Catholics went along with that.

That was until 1973, “Roe v. Wade”, or the legalization of abortion, the great and profound social and political divide in America. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion, the world was split in two and has continued to be so at least every four years when the President is elected. There are so many things that influence the Catholic vote, but abortion seems to steal the show from all the others. Why?

If you asked an American Catholic that question, you would get a perplexed and bewildered look back, like that of my poor mother when I asked her how she was able to sacrifice herself for years helping my paralyzed grandfather. Because it’s life! The sacredness of life is central. Without respect for life in its initial form, there can be nothing else.

This is a country of great contradictions. Even a blind man would notice that. However, it is also a country of great idealistic passions. In the words of Don Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation, America is a teenager who falls in love and throws himself into things with no half measures. He is so much a prey to his feelings that he does not have time to become ideological. At least until now.
Even this question of the sanctity of life is a huge contradiction.

Yes, because in America we still have the death penalty. The United States would be in the middle of a list of countries ranging from China to Iran, from North Korea to Saudi Arabia... And though it is true that there have been 50 million-plus abortions since Roe vs. Wade while only about 1,500 executions, it is also true that the sanctity of life cannot be measured by numbers.