The Greatest American Catholic Politicians

In time for the Fortnight for Religious Liberty, the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, Kan., is inducting another class into its Hall of Fame: the Greatest American Catholic Politicians. The bipartisan group of Catholic American politicians stretches from Charles Caroll of Carollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, to the late Gov. Bob Casey, Sr., the defendant in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The U.S. Catholic bishops have scheduled the Fortnight for Religious Liberty from June 22, feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher until the Fourth of July. The Gregorian Institute and its Memorare Army will be praying for political vocations during that time.

George Weigel, in his commencement address at Benedictine College this year, told students that the challenge to defend religious liberty in America  “is going to require that some of you accept the risk and challenge of public service in elective office.” By celebrating the honorable Catholic politicians of the past, we can help promote political vocations.

Leading American Catholics — editors, authors and Washington leaders — nominated and voted for the newest members of the Hall of Fame. Recipients should be persons of character who practiced their faith. They need not be “canonizable,” but scandalous behavior should be an anomaly in their lives and their public action should have been guided by a Catholic conscience.

Here is the list. Click here for a slideshow presentation of the inductees.

Charles Carroll of Carollton (1731-1832) signed the Declaration of Independence, siding Catholics with U.S. founding principles. John Adams called the Continental Congress delegate and U.S. Senator one of the greatest men of his time.

Daniel Carroll (1730-1796) signed the Articles of Confederation and U.S. Constitution. He risked much for the cause of American independence.  George Washington’s friend, he fought for government by, of and for the people.

Thomas FitzSimons (1741-1811) Continental Congress delegate and Congressman who signed the U.S. Constitution. This Catholic philanthropist was an early opponent of slavery and proponent of free trade.

Joseph E Ransdell (1858-1954) U.S. Senator from Louisiana whose Ransdell Act created the National Institute of Health. The Daughters of Charity called him a “champion of public health” responsible for great medical advances.

Alfred E. “Al” Smith (1873-1944) New York Gov. and the first Catholic contender for the U.S. Presidency (1928). He opposed Prohibition and exposed rampant anti-Catholic fears. A major annual Manhattan dinner celebrates him.

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) Congresswoman and Ambassador, author and anti-Communist activist. Converted by Fulton Sheen, she wrote the Academy Award nominated screenplay Come to the Stable.

William E. Miller (1914-1983) U.S. Congressman and  first Catholic on a GOP national ticket (1964), and party chairman. This World War II hero was “one of the best political minds and most effective orators of his day.”

Robert Sargent Shriver (1915-2011) married JFK sister Eunice, served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, helped start Peace Corps, Job Corps and Head Start. A pro-life Catholic, he was on the 1972 ticket.

Henry Hyde (1924-2007), Congressman, was “the most consequential Catholic legislator of his time,” writes George Weigel, loved by members of both parties. His pro-life Hyde Amendment probably saved 1 million lives.

Robert Patrick “Bob” Casey, Sr. (1932-2000) Governor of Pennsylvania whose pro-life reforms were at issue in the Supreme Court’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Democrats denied him a speaking slot at their 1992 convention.

The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College is training young leaders and equipping current leaders in the principles of Catholic identity in public life. We are defending Catholic identity with our Memorare Army and celebrating Catholic identity with our American Catholic Hall of Fame.



  • Randall

    Where’s Rick Santorum?? :(

    • Brian C

      Too early. Revisit in 5 or 10 years and he may be on the list.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Randall, the Baseball Hall of Fame waits a few years after retirement before possible induction. The Vatican waits until someone is dead five years before beginning the canonization process. It seems the Gregorian Institute has gone the “Vatican route” in not included current office holders, nor even those who are retired but still alive.

  • Elinor Dandrea

    Pray we have more men of principle, who will help to restore Americas trust in herself and those who represent her.

  • Brian C

    This appears to be a good authentic list, particularly in who it omits among figures from the present time (while still managing to include 3 whose lives, if not public service, extend into this century). It will be interesting to see, with the present structure of American politics, whether any current figures from either party will be able to become influential enough to merit inclusion on such a list while staying true to the faith.

  • Nancy W

    Good article, but you need a proofreader. Several words are not spelled correctly.

    • Tom Hoopes

      Thanks! Fixed, I hope.



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