Wassup with Rick Perry and Catholicism?

Am I being too conspiratorial wondering why Rick Perry is talking about Rick Santorum being Catholic on the campaign trail in South Carolina?

Via NBC:

FLORENCE, SC — Speaking to media during an impromptu press conference Tuesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry twice mentioned rival Rick Santorum’s Catholic faith in criticizing his record on fiscal issues.

“Rick Santorum is a good man, he is a good father, he’s a good Catholic,” Perry, an evangelical Christian, said. “But he hasn’t always been a good conservative.”

The casual but twice-repeated remark — the first time that Perry has publicly pointed to his rival’s faith — attracted the attention of journalists because both men are competing to win evangelical voters in the final days before the South Carolina primary.

I have defended Perry on related issues before and am grateful to him for being a defender of religious freedom at the debates and I am suspicious of being overly suspicious — but candidates ought to be overly cautious in this area. No need to fuel bigotry stories waiting to be written or actual bigotry.

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45 thoughts on “Wassup with Rick Perry and Catholicism?

  1. steve says:

    Honestly, I think the author is reading too much into this line. Perry was simply stating that Santorum as a man, his values, are good–but when it comes to being truly conservative, he doesn’t feel he is. This race has been about “who is the real conservative,” so all Perry is doing is trying to get at the meat of that question.

  2. daniel says:

    Alex and David. Rick Santorum has the right as a Catholic to form his own opinion on public policy as Holy Mother Church does not teach on specific policies concerning the State. She can only teach infallibly on issues of faith and morals. The issue of abortion is not on the same level as the issue of the death penalty or the war in Iraq. Here is a good arcile describing with more precision and detail what I am trying to say.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=915

    Essentially Santorum does not always have to agree with the political policy opinions of the Holy Father.

  3. Bill says:

    I’d be more suspicious if Perry had said, “Santorum is a Catholic. And he hasn’t always been a good conservative.” I suspect the anti-Catholic bigots already know that Santorum is a Catholic, and they don’t need Perry to carry their water for them. Not all evangelicals are anti-Catholic, you know.

    Don’t get in the habit of seeing malice where none is intended. There is plenty of intentional hatred out there in the open.

    And I am a cradle Catholic who is faithful to what the Church teaches, lest there be any doubt.

  4. Revert Al says:

    To the point of the article, and then to respond to the
    anti-Santorums in the combox:

    1. It never hurts to use the word Catholic when you’re
    trying to negatively influence a significant
    segment of Protestants (sorry to state
    the obvious).

    2. No matter what prudential judgement you or I may eventually
    make as voters, it seems to me that available evidence
    shows that when you average exemplifying Catholic social teaching
    and personal faithfulness to the Church, we haven’t seen
    a Catholic presidential contender
    like Santorum in living memory (I’m 54 years old).
    Those who think that abortion is just one of a menu of
    faith issues of equal importance will be able to justify
    their disagreement on that, but my view squares more with
    Chaput.

  5. Jay Anderson says:

    Gov. Perry has many faults. Being bigoted isn’t among them.

    Where were you last week when your fellow Romney supporter Ann Coulter REALLY DID make bigoted anti-Catholic comments regarding Santorum and the Catholic Bishops? I criticized her for it on my blog and was myself criticized for being “overly sensitive” and “reading too much” into her comments.

    I am sensitive to these sort of things, probably to a fault. And my view is that what Perry said is entitled to a benign reading. It is surely nothing compared to what Coulter wrote in her column.

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