Catholics Swing 34% to Pro-Life GOP, But Priest Says Abortion Not Priority

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 29, 2010   |   6:08PM   |   Washington, DC

A prominent dissident Catholic priest has launched an assault against Catholic bishops are who are  saying pro-life issues are the most important in the upcoming election.

But new polling data of Catholics makes it appear they’re not listening to him, as a New York Times/CBS poll shows a shocking 34 point swing of Catholic voters switching from pro-abortion Barack Obama to pro-life Republican candidates.
Father Charles Curran, in a speech on Thursday, attacked the Church’s rationale that abortion must be illegal because it is “intrinsically evil.”
According to Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society, Curran “claimed that Catholic voters should not give priority to abortion over issues like health care.
Reilly notes that Curran provoked a response from Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, who said that “on the taking of innocent human life there is no room for ambiguity.”
Curran’s speech directly contradicted the Vatican’s Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, who said in an interview: “You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”
Reilly said “Father Curran’s attack is not an isolated incident and his speech was praised today by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, as representing ‘mainstream of current thought by Catholic moral theologians.’ Curran is joined by other Catholic college theologians who, in what may be a coordinated effort, are trying to influence the Catholic vote.”
The need to influence the vote because a new poll from the new York Times and CBS shows Republicans are winning over Catholic voters.
“If that holds on Tuesday, it’ll be Nancy Pelosi handing the Speaker’s gavel to John Boehner, a Catholic Republican from Ohio,” says Joshua Mercer, who blogs at Catholic Vote.
He found out that the Times’ poll shows “62% said they were voting Republican in the upcoming midterm elections and 38% said they were voting Democratic, a gap of 24 points” — much stronger than the 10 point margin Catholics gave to pro-abortion Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008.
“This means that Republicans have gone from a 10 point deficit among Catholic voters to a 24 point advantage, a shift in 34 points in just two years,” Mercer said. “Wow. We’ll see if that holds on Election Day, but that could just be the major story from this election.”
Thomas Peters, of the pro-life Catholic blog American Papist, also took note of the surprising polling data.
“Every poll should be taken with a large grain of salt. Nevertheless, the swing is impressive: Catholics represent the widest switch from Democrat-to-Republican support of any group classified. I’ll be watching the exit polls next week to see if the claims made by this poll are substantiated,” he said.
“Individuals who identify themselves as Catholic tend to generally follow the overall trend of voting, year-by-year, so what we are seeing among Catholics is partially a subset of the widespread national disappointment in Democrats,” he noted. “What I am more interested in seeing is the polling for practicing Catholics, often defined in polls as Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week (as required). This group of active Catholics voted more against than for Obama in 2008.”