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Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty

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  • Category: Latest National News

Washington, DC-(ENEWSPF)- More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent theologians at universities across the country released a strongly worded open letter today urging “our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

In the lead up to Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa voters he doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

The open letter reminds the two presidential candidates, vying for Christian conservative voters, that U.S. Catholic bishops have called racism an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.

The full text of the statement and signatories follow.

An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum:

As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.

Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

Francis X. Doyle
Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (retired)

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Leadership Team:
Sisters Patricia McDermott, RSM (President) Eileen Campbell, RSM Anne Curtis, RSM Mary Pat Gavin, RSM Deborah Troillett, RSM

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF
President
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale
Associate Professor of Theology
Marquette University

Rev. Clete Kiley
Director for Immigration Policy
UNITE HERE

Rev. Anthony J. Pogorelc,  M.Div., Ph.D.
The Catholic University of America
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies

Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J.
University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice
Boston College

Sr. Patricia J. Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Marie Dennis
Co-President, Pax Christi International

Rev. John F. Kavanaugh S.J.
Professor of Philosophy
St. Louis University

Rev. Jim Keenan, S.J.
Founders Professor in Theology
Boston College

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
Senior Fellow
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Sister Mary Ellen Howard
Executive Director
Cabrini Clinic, Detroit

Rev. James E. Hug, S.J.
President
Center of Concern

Sister Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Steven Schneck
Director
Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Sister Karen M. Donahue, RSM
Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community

Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale
Assoc. Prof. of Theology
Boston College

Tom Allio
Cleveland Diocesan Social Action Director (retired)

M. Shawn Copeland
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

Sister Maria Riley, OP
Senior Advisor
Center of Concern

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair
Theology Department
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Michael E. Lee
Associate Professor
Theology Department
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Paul Lakeland
Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies
Director, Center for Catholic Studies Fairfield University

Lisa Sowle Cahill
Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

Eric LeCompte
Board Member
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University, Cincinnati

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University, Cincinnati

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Carolyn Farrell, BVM Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University, Chicago

Daniel K. Finn
Professor of Theology and Economics
St. John’s University, Minnesota

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia

Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Associate Professor of Theology
Faculty Director
Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale
Assoc. Prof. of Theology
Boston College

John Inglis
Professor and Chair
Department of Philosophy
University of Dayton

Anthony B. Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

David O’Brien
University Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

William L. Portier
Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology
University of Dayton

Alex Mikulich
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University, New Orleans

Susan M. Weishar
Migration Specialist
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor
Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

James Salt
Executive Director
Catholics United

Vincent Miller
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Fairfield University

Source: http://www.faithinpubliclife.org

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