Beliefs Politics

Romney unveils leaders of Catholic outreach team

(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:


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:

Fellow Catholics,

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. 

About the author

Daniel Burke

Daniel Burke worked for Religion News Service from 2006-2013. He now co-edits CNN's Belief Blog.


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  • This is very dispiriting, that so many influential individuals should choose a weak single issue upon which to suggest we should all vote Republican. I know it is unfashionable to argue that Catholic Social Teaching still counts for anything, but if it did/does, surely on balance we find an Obama administration closer to its vision than that of the currently narrow Republic vision.

  • Paul, your comment could not be farther from the truth. Obama is the most anti-Catholic president in history. The HHS mandate is exhibit A…

  • I do not know if Romney’s Catholic Outreach Team of former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See realize that they are being used as puppets by the Pope and other members of the hierarchy, in order to protect the Pope and hierarchy from being made accountable for their complicity, in allowing the sexual abuse of innocent children by bishops and priests to flourish worldwide.
    I am a Catholic physician who has met many who have been sexually abused by priests. I too was sexually assaulted by a Carmelite priest when I was a young doctor in Dublin, Ireland.
    There have been at least 19 American bishops who have been actual sexual abusers, according to
    Pope Benedict XVI was head of the office that dealt with clergy sexual abuse cases for 24 years, before becoming Pope in 2005. He has not admitted his central role in the sexual abuse scandal.
    The Pope is claiming diplomatic immunity, so that he will be free from prosecution. He and others fear that they will be made accountable if President Obama is re-elected, since President Obama cares about protecting the innocence of children and making sexual abusers accountable to the law.
    President Obama is not anti-Catholic. President Obama is pro-Woman. There are at least two groups that have a conflict of rights in the religious freedom issue.
    As a woman, I believe there is a WAR AGAINST WOMEN by the Pope and other members of the hierarchy.
    The rights of women and couples to follow their consciences before God, in regard to their sexual needs, are being denied by celibate men who have NO real life experience of real women, and of their reproductive needs.
    I do not believe the Pope or hierarchy care about women at all, so it saddens me that these former ambassadors are being so manipulated by a hierarchy that has lost its conscience and its moral authority.

  • The first Ambassador to the Vatican was appointed in1980 by Reagan while John Paul II was Pope. Since then, there has been an effort by the Vatican to collaborate with the US to accomplish its initiatives. Perhaps the Romney campaign is the culmination of so many years of work. They have collaborated with the government by creating the defining agenda for the religious right….as you can tell by the combined agenda. This movement has gone from small conference boards, to oaths for those elected to office to the Tea Party and now to Congress….Romney has just revealed the links to the 32 years of that collaborative effort……There should be some law against this……

  • In joining/leading Catholics for Romney did these people take ALL of Catholic Social Teaching into consideration? Most of Mr. Romney’s financial backers have given money to people/groups that are against most of the following statements. Additionally, Mr. Romney’s dissolution of the companies Bain Capital purchased made him richer and the poor poorer. The hypocrisy on the part of the past ambassadors to the Holy See is sickening.

    “We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.”

    “We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”

    “In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.”

    “The economy must serve people…if the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions”

    “The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.”

    “We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.”

    All quotes taken from

  • While I would not chastise the former ambassadors to the Holy See as much as this responder, I do say that I am surprised and dismayed that they have lent their good will to the Romney campaign. I assume, or at least hope, this is out of allegiance to the US Bishops more than it is to a deep personal belief in the rationality of a Republican win in the election. There is no question that the Democratic agenda is most favorable to the traditional social justice teachings of the Catholic Faith. Not so for the Republicans. The effort by the Bishops is blind sided by a focus on morality issues. I do not fault them for their positions. They are consistent with certain teachings of Catholic Dogma, and as a practicing Catholic I believe in them. However, these are moral qualities which Catholics must support as their faith. They are not civil issues that should be enshrined in the laws of the country. Indeed, much of their program could never be implemented legislatively since it is counter to constitutional civil rights. Obama knows that and is taking the path that is feasible, and just for the majority of citizens. That is what our government should do, and must do by law. Romney is lying to the public by claiming that he will instill laws to change such things. No President can do that. It is illegal by definition now, and if such laws could be made constitutional they would be unjust on a human level. Our democratic country would teeter on the edge of a theocracy. Moral issues are for each faith group to establish for their religion, not for the government to legislate.

    Catholics for Romney must carefully think through their position. The traditional Democratic agenda has been to support the poor and lower income demographics, which has been the long traditional teaching of the Church through its guidance of honoring works of corporal mercy. Obama is living that philosophy. He did it in Chicago as an organizer among poor Catholics. He is not “anti-Catholic” The Republican agenda is focused on preferential treatment for an affluent demographic who want to completely control the country through economic domination. Catholics must organize for Obama, not against him.

  • Romney’s choices are an extremely sad commentary–as everything else he does–on the attitudes of influential Catholics. Most of them, like the church hierarchy, starting with Benedict’s man in New York, Timothy Dolan, and too many priests, are out-and-out, unabashed, very conservative Republicans. Many of them also were able and willing to pay for one of the church’s royal honors, like a Knight of Malta. This is a continuing effort, as practiced by arch-manipulator Cardinal Francis Spellman, Dolan’s predecessor in the Big Apple, by the church to invade our government, to violate our constitutionally required separation of church and state.

    I fail to see anything in the gospels that resemblances these styles of life in any way. When Catholic immigrants were flooding into this country, it certainly was not the Republican Party or any of its associates who aligned with them. As Bob Dylan assured us, “The times, they are a changin’!”

  • It seems to me that the Catholic Bishops/Catholic Church are coming very close to losing their 501(c)3 corporation status from the IRS if they continue this path. In the statutes for benefit of 501(c)3 it is noted that: “…No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements,) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these Articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on: (a) by a corporation exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(c)3 of the United States Internal Revenue Code (or the corresponding provisions of any future United State Internal Revenue Law) or: (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under Section 170(c)2 of the United States Internal Revenue Code (or the corresponding provisions of any future United States Internal Revenue Laws).” Taken from “Articles of Incorporation of a Tax-Exempt” (pursuant to A.R.C.
    §10-3202 (Arizona Non-Profit Corporation). 2012

  • @Barbara Stinger:…there are also Catholics active in Obama’s campaign. In each case these groups operate independently of the canonical church although each represents a different configuration of its beliefs. Conservative Catholics tend to support Republican interests while Liberal Catholics tend to represent a Democratic worldview.

    A real Catholic moral position doesn’t fit well in either camp. GOP is generally horrible on social justice while advocating religious liberty, anti-abortion and anti-euthasia positions. Democrats tend to be stronger on anti-death penalty, pro-labor, anti-war (until the past few years!), pro-environment and for a positive role of government regulating economic life while granting more liberty on abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia.

    Catholics then don’t fall easily under either party or voting bloc given the wide-range of Catholic concerns.

  • It feels like we are back in the middle ages, forcing people to accept our religious beliefs or face death. If the Catholic church wants to participate in the multi-billion dollar businesses of healthcare or education, if it wants its share of tax dollars, it has to render unto Caesar. To abort or not to abort is a religious value. Churches and church members do not have the right to force others to accept their values. As for birth control, the church can’t get its own members to accept this reaching but it wants to force it on its employees. It is very easy for me to say what I would do, I will never be pregnant. I have a radical idea, let’s love our brothers and sisters for everything they are, even if we disagree, and let God judge them.

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