When Martha Raddatz asked how Vice President Joe Biden's and Representative Paul Ryan's Catholic faiths inform their policy views, Joe Biden delivered the perfect contrast to Ryan's anti-choice message when he said he has been a practicing Catholic his whole life, and he personally agrees with the church in opposing abortion for his own personal view, but he will not impose his views on others, and believes choice should left to the woman and her doctor.

With regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion as a -- what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that -- women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor.”

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the -- the congressman. I -- I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that -- women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I'm not going to interfere with that.

The "inaudible" part was "de fide" doctrine which is a theological article of faith all Catholics must agree with. The CNN tracking plot of still undecided voters surged to near the maximum of the scale. Later Biden warns:
The next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominations. That’s how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief advisor to the court for Mr. Romney, who do you think he’s likely to appoint? Do you think he’s likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court, far right, that would outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen. I guarantee that will not happen. We picked two people. They’ve been open minded, good justices, so keep your eye on it

Kali Joy Gray gives a scathing account of Ryan's hypocritical pablum. The extra bonus zinger for me was Biden's discussing of Catholic Social Doctrine which calls the faithful to take care of the needy and those that can not help themselves:

My religion defines who I am, and I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who -- who can't take care of themselves, people who need help.
With this little noticed mention of Catholic Social doctrine, Joe Biden highlighted the ongoing contest for the hearts and minds of Catholic voters between social-values conservatives emphasizing anti-choice messages, and more liberal and Democratic Catholics, like Joe Biden who also include emphasis on the core messages of Catholic Social Doctrine including compassion, peace, and love for others, as well as helping the poor and those in need.

Last week's Reuter/Ipos Poll "shows that Catholics are now divided equally between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with each winning just under 40 percent of voters."  Slight shifts in either direction could be a driving determinate of the election as Catholic voters have been a bellwether demographic group choosing the winner in every election since 1972. Catholic voters are also critical to swing, and fire wall states such as Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which are now under challenge.

In the 2008 election, Obama won 54 percent of the Catholic vote. But this time, Catholics are hearing stronger advocacy on the conservative side of some issues from U.S. bishops, particularly regarding same-sex marriage and contraception. This troubles liberal Catholics, who feel Church leaders are turning too far to the right.

A few months ago, the Nuns on the Bus tour and Franciscan Friars Action Network both provided a voice for more liberal and Democratic Catholics when they  issued statements criticizing Ryan and Romney for their program proposal's lack of compassion for the poor and needy among us. Here are selections from two of my posts that are directly related to this important contest for the hearts and minds of Catholic voters.

Nuns On a Bus Trying to Protect Our Poor From the Ravages of Paul Ryan's Budget Cuts by HoundDog (THU AUG 16, 2012 AT 04:46 PM PDT)

I highly recommend you read this inspiring, refreshing, and fun article by Abigail Pesta, called Catholic Nuns Gun for Paul Ryan, which describes the adventures of Sister Simone Campbell, and her roving band of feisty Catholic Nuns traveling across the country to bring attention to the possible real-life consequences of Paul Ryan's savage proposed budget cuts on our nations poorest citizens.

Photo Credit - "Nuns on the Bus" tour. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photos)

This summer, the outspoken Catholic nun led a bus tour across the country called “Nuns on the Bus,” protesting the Wisconsin congressman’s proposed federal budget plan, which she says would slash funds for social programs for low-income people. ...

“The truth is, there’s a shift of money to the top—tax cuts for the wealthy. ...  He thinks seniors are getting too big of a free ride.”  ... She says her bus tour, which covered nine states in two weeks, fired her up. “The more we were on the road, the more impassioned we became,” she says. “We saw all these low-income communities, all the people who would be affected. By the end, we were fairly nuts about it.”

“Ryan thinks churches can pick up the tab,” Sister Simone says. “That’s ridiculous. The magnitude of the need is so great.”  ... Sister Simone says it’s not the social programs that are keeping people poor, but rather the economy. “The problem is not enough jobs and low wages,” she says, adding: “Catholic teaching is based on solidarity. Ryan doesn’t understand that all decisions need to be made with the common good in mind.”

The Franciscan Friars Call On Mitt Romney to Speak with Greater Dignity and Compassion for the Poor

WASHINGTON, DC — August 8, 2012 — The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), an organization of Franciscan friars and sisters and lay Franciscans, is disturbed by the demeaning campaign ad and conversation about welfare by the Romney campaign. Franciscans, and Christians everywhere, follow Jesus who came to "preach good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18). Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society. At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the “dependency” of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently.

Thank goodness we are hearing a voice of compassion from traditional communities of faith calling on political leaders to keep to the traditions many people of faith have led for a long, long time.

These enthusiastic and outspoken Nuns, and Franciscan Friars lift our spirits, elevate our appreciation of those serving in our communities of faith, and bring hope that our nation may sustain our efforts to help the needy and poor. Perhaps, they can help us win over and keep critical Catholic voters and humanists in our battleground states like Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin?

Let's hope other leaders of the communities of faith, and secular and scientific humanists join together to bring greater compassion and wisdom to our social policies.

4:25 PM PT: After a long evolution, I became a scientific, spiritual, humanist, but my father studied to be a priest for six years at the College of Saint Benedict before becoming a Navy aviator, Latin professor, and computer scientist so I've always felt a common bond, and appreciation for the social missions of the Catholic Church and incorporated many of the values into my own brand of humanism. My father left the Church when they didn't give him the Rhodes Scholarship he felt he deserved on merit as a lesson in humility, but he continued to struggle his whole life with theological and spiritual issues which influenced me a great deal. My mother was a Baptist, and unable to agree on our religious upbringing, so from about the age of 4, my brothers and I were given the challenge of studying all religions in order to choose our religion and spirituality, which I took seriously so studied and explored all I could find.  

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