Sure, there’s buzz about the likelihood that Judge Sotomayor is
Catholic, but they aren’t discussing the relevance of that fact. Or….if
it has any.

But it’s an interesting (though totally predictable) buzz, what her faith really is. Good stuff here.

Undoubtedly, Sotomayor’s Catholic-ness will be the
subject of some debate. Just how Catholic is she? Steven Waldman,
blogging at Beliefnet, quotes a White House official saying, “Judge
Sotomayor was raised as a Catholic and attends church for family
celebrations and other important events.”

David Gibson, also at Beliefnet, suggests there may be a strategic reason for Sotomayor to downplay her faith affiliation:

“The (awful) question will now be, what KIND of Catholic is she?”

Aha. That’s the key to this whole issue, now that President Obama
has stepped into the Catholic divide and given credence to which
version of Catholicism is authentic.

Over at GetReligion, Terry Mattingly wonders why the
word “Catholic” is not more a part of the early press coverage, and
asks if that would be different if Sotomayor were a known opponent of
abortion rights:

“Her life story will be a big part of the upcoming mini-debates
about her appointment. Here is my question: If she was a pro-life
woman, from a Hispanic background, do you think that the word
‘Catholic’ would be appearing higher in these early (I repeat, EARLY)
reports about her life and work? Just saying.”

It’s interesting, this early discussion.

Meanwhile, one thing that struck me in President Obama’s
remarks about Sotomayor this morning was the language he used to
describe the role of Catholic schools in offering children a path out
of poverty. This is what he said:

“When Sonia was nine, her father passed away. And her mother worked
six days a week as a nurse to provide for Sonia and her brother…But
Sonia’s mom bought the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood,
sent her children to a Catholic school called Cardinal Spellman out of
the belief that with a good education here in America all things are
possible.”

Yeah, that struck me too. As I said somewhere below here, at this
point of Obama’s introduction, with the laudatory remarks about this
education, I’m wondering why (to state the obvious) Obama will not
continue the voucher system that would allow similarly disadvantaged
children access to this same good education.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....