Source: International Herald Tribune
Until recently, Matthew Figured, a Sunday school teacher at the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church here, could not decide which candidate to vote for in the presidential election.
He had watched progressive Catholics work with the Democratic Party over the last four years to remind the faithful of the party's support for Catholic teaching on the Iraq war, immigration, health care and even reducing abortion rates.
But then his local bishop plunged into the fray, barring Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, from receiving communion in the area because of his support for abortion rights. Finally, bishops around the country scolded another prominent Catholic Democrat, Nancy Pelosi of California, speaker of the House of Representatives, for publicly contradicting the church's teachings on abortion, some admonishing parishioners not to vote for politicians who hold such views.
Now, Figured thinks he will vote for the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona. "People should straighten out their religious beliefs before they start making political decisions," Figured, 22, said on his way into Sunday Mass.
A struggle within the church over how Catholic voters should think about abortion is once again flaring up just as political partisans prepare an all-out battle for the votes of Mass-going Catholics in swing-state towns like Scranton. The theological dispute is playing out in diocesan newspapers and weekly homilies, while the campaigns scramble to set up phone banks of nuns and private meetings with influential conservative bishops.