WASHINGTON — In an op-ed published Friday in The Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York lamented that the Democratic Party’s shifting principles have effectively shut out and alienated orthodox Catholics.
Dolan cited the Democrats’ current opposition to school-choice programs and tax credits for education, along with their unwavering support as a party for abortion rights, among the reasons why he is disappointed with the party in its current state. Cardinal Dolan said he believes that the Democrats of today have abandoned many of the tenets that made the party attractive to Catholics generations ago.
In the past, he explained, when waves of Irish immigrants arrived in the United States, their respect for the sanctity of life and their concern for the poor led them to embrace the Democrats, who welcomed them to the party. He even recounted his own grandmother warning him, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”
“Such is no longer the case,” he wrote, which is a “cause of sadness to many Catholics,” himself included.
He pointed to the party’s recent refusal to support incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., who is one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress, in a tight primary race.
Lipinski, himself Catholic, narrowly won the Democratic primary March 20 against a challenger who made abortion rights central to her campaign. Last April, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement: “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” adding that this was “not negotiable.”
Perez was criticized for this stance by party leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Recent polling showed just under a quarter of Democrats believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances.
Cardinal Dolan was particularly critical of a proposed New York law titled the “Reproductive Health Act,” which he says would “morbidly expand” the “most radical abortion license in the country.” The New York State Assembly is overwhelmingly Democrat.
“For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications,” he wrote.
What’s more, he explained, is that he feels the Democrats are making it harder for low-income and middle-class children to get an education at a Catholic school.
“In recent years, some Democrats in the New York State Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children,” he said. The cardinal said this type of legislation impedes the mission of these schools to serve poor, often immigrant, children.
He admitted that while he has “had spats and disappointments” with politicians from both major political parties in the United States, he is particularly upset by the Democratic Party’s swing in a direction that excludes people like his grandmother.
“But it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.”