UPDATE: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley suspended his campaign Feb. 1, after the Iowa Caucus.
(RNS) Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is loudly, proudly Catholic -- even when some doctrine-devoted church followers hiss at his socially liberal views.
Undaunted, O'Malley wrote an essay for the National Catholic Reporter the day before Pope Francis' first U.S. visit offering his view on "why so many people — not only Catholics, but people of so many creeds and faiths, and those who profess to not have religious faith — are energized by Pope Francis’ message. He is a reformer, but one who creates change by “letting the light in” so all of us can see the truth and act upon that truth."
O'Malley, campaigning to the left of the Democratic center, pins his views to the pope's moral charge to all to work for immigration reform and to battle income inequality.
Here are five faith facts about O’Malley, 52, who announced his candidacy on Saturday (May 30).
1. He’s Catholic-educated all the way -- almost.
He attended a parish elementary in Bethesda, Md., and Jesuit-run Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., where public service was expected of students. He then earned his undergraduate degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, before veering off the parochial path for law school at the University of Maryland. In 2002, while serving as mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley told Gonzaga students in a commencement address that the commitment to public service instilled at the school was a driving force in his choice to pursue politics rather than a private law practice.
He’s a pray-every-morning, church-every-Sunday (St. Francis of Assisi in Baltimore) believer who sent all four of his kids to Catholic schools. Democratic Party activist and author Jonathan Miller called him, “the rare progressive to frame his strongly felt policy positions in the language of faith.
2. He holds positions contrary to some Catholic Church teachings.
O'Malley is for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. His website boasts he led the push to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.
In March, he told The Des Moines Register in an interview that he had no problem aligning this with his religion. O'Malley said, "I found the passage of marriage equality actually squares with the most important social teachings of my faith, which is to believe in the dignity of every person and to believe in our own responsibility to advance the common good."
3. He doesn't think corporations should refuse contraception coverage on religious grounds.
During the battle over whether faith-based religious institutions and businesses must heed the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act -- an issue still wending through the courts -- O’Malley said Catholics need to calm down about it. In 2012, he told Candy Crowley on CNN: “There has been a little bit too much hyperventilating over this issue."
4. He credits a Jesuit priest for shaping his identity.
He told Esquire magazine one of his role models is “a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Horace McKenna, who ran a mission out of the basement of Saint Aloysius Church. He gave his entire life to serving the poor, and he truly did see the face of God in every individual that he served.”
5. He agrees with his church on the need for immigration reform.
As governor, O'Malley brought more than 2,200 refugee children to shelter in Maryland following the 2014 crisis over unaccompanied immigrant children getting caught illegally crossing the Southwest border. He also signed a law allowing some undocumented immigrants to be eligible for in-state college tuition. Such actions prompted one Maryland state senator to call O’Malley “a Pope Francis Democrat.”
YS/AMB END GROSSMAN