(RNS) Likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney unveiled the leaders of his Catholic outreach team today - with some prominent names on the list.
The national co-chairs of "Catholics for Romney" are:
Frank Shakespeare (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1986-1989)
Tom Melady (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1989-1993)
Ray Flynn (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1993-1997)
Jim Nicholson (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2001-2005)
Francis Rooney (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2005-2008)
Mary Ann Glendon (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2008-2009)
While Catholics do not vote as a block, they have been important swing voters in recent elections, particularly in closely contested states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A June Gallup poll showed Catholic voters evently divided between Obama (46 percent) and Romney (45 percent).
Here's the rest of the Romney campaign's press release:
MITT ROMNEY ANNOUNCES CATHOLICS FOR ROMNEY LEADERSHIP
Boston, MA – Mitt Romney today announced his Catholics for Romney coalition leadership. Catholics for Romney National Co-Chairs and Former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See Frank Shakespeare, Tom Melady, Ray Flynn, Jim Nicholson, Francis Rooney, and Mary Ann Glendon wrote the following letter in support of Mitt Romney:
We are all called to advance the moral teachings of Christianity in the life of our country. Where the stakes are highest – in the defense of life, liberty, and human dignity – we have a duty to act that is greater and more urgent than allegiance to any political party.
In the election of 2012, this conviction has united all of us – each a former ambassador of the United States to the Holy See – in support of Governor Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. Whatever issues might dominate the presidential campaign from now until November, our concerns lie with fundamental rights, beginning with religious liberty.
While the current administration has brought our first freedom under direct assault by imposing government mandates that completely disregard religious conscience, Governor Romney believes that freedom to live one’s faith is essential to liberty and human fulfillment. And he has pledged himself to removing those federal mandates immediately.
While the current administration has now put its weight on the side of those who propose to redefine the meaning of marriage itself, Governor Romney has stood firm in defending this sacred institution. In the White House, just as he did in the Massachusetts State House, he will defend the institution of marriage before the Congress, the courts, and the country.
Where the current administration has shown its sympathy for the pro-abortion lobby, Mitt Romney will be a faithful defender of life in all its seasons. And he understands the special duty of people of faith to serve in this cause. As Governor Romney recently said, “From the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.”
These are the words of a man we believe can be a great force for good in this nation. We are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, but on this question we are united in faith and in action. We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.