ELECTION 2012: An open letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum

The following open letter was sent today to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and signed by over 40 Catholic religious leaders and theologians. Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN and Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis were among the signers. Others include Rev. Bryan Massingale, STD, Rev. Jim Hug, SJ, Sr. Simone Campbell, Eric LeCompte, M. Shawn Copeland and James Salt. The letter was coordinated by our friends at Faith in Public Life. 

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.

12 responses to “ELECTION 2012: An open letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum

  1. This is a good start. But we also need to be making sure that Gingrich’s and Santorum’s bishops remind these candidates of their obligations to uphold Catholic Social Teaching — which neither candidate seems inclined to do. I’m getting tired of Catholics who seem to think the only social issue is abortion and bishops who only criticize candidates on that one issue. Where are these guys on racial issues? Education? The economy? The environment? They are NOT promoting a Catholic perspective on these issues and they should be called to task for that by their bishops. Why is it that bishops only seem to want to jump into the fray and take their followers to task on abortion?

    • Because abortion is the worst crime against humanity above all of these other issues…without upholding life in the womb, there is no life , therefore, no life issues to be concerned about such as racism, poverty..and this teaching comes from our Pope himself. Respecting life in all it’s stages, begins by respecting it’s origins and the miracle that it is, and the gift that it is given to us by GOD. I would rather have a president that at least gives me a chance at life than one who believes that life is not meant for all.

      • Well said! It’s not that those other issues are not important, nor do I believe that we should call our president names, or profile anyone at all because of the color of their skin, but the killing of babies should hold precedence. Hopefully one day, abortion will not be an issue at all, and we can all unify and fight those other issues with clean consciences!

  2. Brother Martin Zatsick,TOR

    Abortion is not the only Pro-Life issue.Poverty,War,Housing,Lack of Food,and Education.These topics are also Pro-Life issues.The two Catholic candiates in question are not adressing these issues.It is time for the Bishops to make their voices heard on all Life issues.

  3. It seems as the only Republican candidate to say it – That if we would only end these unnecessary wars and these military occupations in foreign lands – then we might create a vital & viable economy here at home in America – thereby making the whole food stamp issue moot 1 For thus – Ron Paul said there would be jobs & employment for All Citizens in the U.S.A. ! Pacem in Terris – franknkissy

  4. Mary Beth Moore

    I am greatly edified by the Catholic leaders that pay attention to this demoralizing rhetoric and challenge it in such a succinct and compelling way. Thank you.
    Mary Beth Moore

  5. The best way to be pro-life is to elect leaders who will raise the standard of living for the working people of this country. If you give a family a living wage, health care, pensions, and time off to take care of your children when they are sick, day care, good education, and other programs that benefit the middle and working class for example unemployment, Social Security, Medical care;a woman is not going to want to abort a baby. The only people who want to do better for the working people are the Democrats. No doubt about that. This is the abortion card. It is pulled out every election cycle. Before this issue came up, Catholics overwhelmingly voted Democratic. They will never get rid of abortion or there would be no reason for Working, Middle class Catholics to vote Republican. That party is still and always will be for the 1 and 2% of this country and that is not healthy for God’s children that are already on this earth.

  6. Michael Helion

    Elizabeth Siler is spot on, well put Elizabeth…

  7. Anne Laurance

    Many thanks to those of you who originated this very necessary statement. I can only hope that this becomes part of what every politician should adopt

  8. Patrick T Brennan

    The truth sometimes hurts. Yes Barack Hussein Obama IS the food stamp president. His policies have condemned more people to poverty than ever before by a huge margin. And guess what – they are not all Black. Any Catholic that votes for Obama who promotes Abortion on demand and forces Catholic institutions to provide birth control to its members cannot be re-elected. Republicans are the only real choice for concerned Catholics. Democrats thrive on poverty and racism, they love it, its their lifeblood.

    Some of the replies I have read above make me think people are living in an alternate universe. If you want prosperity for all who want to work for it, do not vote for Democrats. As Charles Barkley put it “We’ve been voting for Democrats for sixty years and we are still poor”. Government is NOT the solution to poverty, free enterprise and jobs are. Obama just killed 50,000 good paying union jobs by turning down the Canadian pipeline. Small example but it is just one of his unbelievably stupid decisions.

    It is impossible for the government to help people by stealing money from the wealthy and passing it on to those who live a cushy life on welfare. It just does not happen that way. Right now a single mother of three children has more disposable income than a man and wife who earn sixty thousand dollars per year!!! Why work??

  9. Maria, Thanks for your very cogent and compassionate statement about what Pro Life should mean. Mother Teresa agonized much of her life about whether God was really there for her and she said the most important thing was to be wanted. If we can have a culture that truly does want and care for babies then this would be closer to being solved. In the meanwhile, there are women who have an absolute right to their bodies without government interference. Is there any way that the government intrudes in men’s bodies???