How Catholics are trending in the Democratic race is a focus of more polls and news stories.

Barack Obama’s 11 straight Democratic primary and caucus
victories have been marked by continued and impressive gains among
women, lower-income workers, Hispanics and virtually every other
demographic group.

Yet one potentially critical set of voters remains stubbornly resistant to his appeal—Catholics.

In state after state, with only a few exceptions, exit polling shows
Hillary Rodham Clinton is the choice of Catholic voters. Clinton even
defeated Obama among Catholics in his home state of Illinois. It seems
the more Catholic the state, the more likely she is to have won it…

John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron
and a senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life,
said that while Clinton’s and Obama’s policy proposals are similar, her
personal religious background gives her an advantage.

“Hillary Clinton, probably because of her Methodism and her
liberalism, holds teachings that are very closely tied to the Catholic
Church. That fits very well with Catholic sensibilities,” Green said.
“I think she talks in ways that Catholics can understand. He speaks in
the cadences of the black church, with a real Protestant approach.”

What these stories are missing is the constant and unchanging
teaching of the Church – outlined again in the U.S. bishops document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” – that talk and sensibilities and approaches must respect the preeminent right to life. It’s not political, it’s moral.

The National Catholic Register, in its March issue, looks at the presidential landscape.

It notes that McCain isn’t as well liked by conservative Republicans
as Obama and Hillary Clinton are liked by liberal Democrats.

However, as Catholics, the editors say they’re not as concerned
about conservative political philosophy as they are about Catholic
teachings. And no Catholic teaching, when it comes to political issues,
is more important than opposing abortion.

The Register noted the Catholic bishops have said abortion “must
always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned”
and added that the right to life is a fundamental one more important
than others.

“In other words, abortion is the preeminent issue. A Catholic’s
obligation is to cast the vote that will best advance the culture of
life,” the editors say.

Bottom line:

“Sometimes it isn’t the ‘most liked’ candidate who wins,
but the one whose more principled stand means we’ll vote for them
whether we like them or not.”

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....