…the controversy surrounding the Notre Dame invitation highlights growing strains in an important political relationship. In the last election, while evangelical Christians generally remained loyal to the Republican nominee, Catholics decisively shifted their votes toward Obama. In 2004, George W. Bush won the Catholic vote by five percentage points. Obama carried it by nine points in 2008. A number of Catholic thinkers set out a “pro-life, pro-Obama” position — disagreeing with Obama’s pro-choice views but trusting in his moderate instincts and conciliatory temperament.
So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues — funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health-care professionals — have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason Obama’s support among Catholics has eroded. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Obama’s job performance increased by nine points from February to March. Among Catholics as a whole, his disapproval rating jumped 14 points. And among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, the figure doubled — from 20 percent to 41 percent.
Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.
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