Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 25 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Herman “the Cripple”
home iconNews
line break icon

Presidential Contenders Tell a Tale of Two Catholic Churches


Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 04/29/15 - updated on 06/08/17

American Catholic politicians however, are not all conservative. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland is weighing a run as candidate for the Democratic Party. Although he claims an Irish Catholic heritage, O’Malley signed a bill as governor green-lighting same-sex marriage. When the Archbishop of Baltimore challenged him O’Malley replied, "I do not presume, nor would I ever presume as Governor, to question or infringe upon your freedom to define, to preach about, and to administer the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. But on the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same-sex couples, you and I disagree.”

While claiming to run on his “Catholic values” O’Malley supports federal funding for abortion, has won a top award from Planned Parenthood in his home state and voted for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Although not in the race for the Democratic nomination, other high-profile Democrat Catholics who might run are former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden. Both take typical progressive views on pro-life and family issues. Despite claiming to be “faithful Catholics” Pelosi and Biden are consistently pro-abortion and in favor of same-sex marriage. While they might appear Catholic on peace and justice issues, they have cheerfully and publicly disagreed with both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. Pelosi, Biden and O’Malley reflect the other major stream in American Catholicism: cafeteria Catholicism.

The three Democratic Catholic politicians, like the members of the Kennedy dynasty, are all products of cultural Catholicism in American, whereas the Republicans are either converts or committed reverts to their Catholic heritage. Therefore the level of understanding and commitment to Catholic teaching is of a very different order among the Republican hopefuls than among the Democrats.

The range of Catholic politicians, from Santorum and Rubio to O’Malley and Biden, reveals the true complexion of American Catholicism. Many observers have said that it is as if there are really two Catholic Churches in America: a dissenting “progressive” church and a faithful “conservative” church. With very different understandings of what it means to be Catholic and what it means to be American, the conflicting political and social opinions amongst the Catholic politicians will make for a fascinating and contentious national debate in the coming nineteen months.

Read Fr Dwight  Longenecker’s blog, browse his books and be in touch at

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.