National Catholic Register


Santorum’s Struggle

The Pennsylvania senator tells the Register he is the true pro-life candidate in this year’s race.


Contributing Editor

October 15-21, 2006 Issue | Posted 10/11/06 at 10:00 AM


HARRISBURG, Penn. — Incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and his Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., are both Catholic. And both say they are pro-life.

But there are major differences in the two candidates’ positions on a number of key life and family issues.

And in those areas where they hold divergent positions on life and family issues, Santorum appears to be the one who follows Church teachings, an analysis of the candidates’ recent statements indicates.

Santorum, who is seeking his third term as senator, has made his pro-life convictions a centerpiece of his political career.

His campaign website ( highlights his pro-life record on a number of issues, including his support for the ban on partial-birth abortion, for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and the Born-Alive Protection Act and his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research.

“We have endorsed Sen. Santorum, because he has a record of being there for unborn children, and actually taking leadership in the Senate for unborn children as he did in the House,” said Darla St. Martin, co-director of National Right to Life Committee. “He’s always been a leader in protecting unborn children.”

Casey is the son of the late Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania. Gov. Casey became a hero to pro-life Democrats after he was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic national convention because of his strong anti-abortion beliefs.

But while the younger Casey has declared he is also pro-life on abortion, his own campaign website ( contains little mention of his position on abortion or other life issues.

Plan B

Casey’s campaign office did not reply to requests from the Register for an interview to clarify Casey’s positions on issues of concern to Catholics.

But doubts were raised about the depth of his pro-life commitment after Casey backed the FDA’s recent authorization of over-the-counter distribution of Plan B, the so-called “morning-after pill.”

The contraceptive drug Plan B, which is given to prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse has occurred, can have an abortifacient effect if it is taken after conception has occurred. Santorum opposes over-the-counter distribution of Plan B.

“I think it is contraception, and I support it,” Casey said Sept. 3 during a debate on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Santorum. “I think we’ve got to make it widely available.”

Casey said “emergency contraception can reduce the number of abortions. That’s what we should emphasize.”

In an article posted on the Internet at, Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, rebutted the argument that Plan B is not an abortifacient and reduces abortions.

“So ‘emergency contraception” is a euphemistic misnomer; and this drug will not reduce abortions,” McQuade wrote. “When you include the possible abortifacient effect, it may even increase them.”


Another concern to pro-lifers is Casey’s position on judicial appointments. Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked votes on confirming pro-life judicial candidates nominated by President Bush.

According to an article in the Nov. 14, 2005 issue of The New Yorker, pro-abortion Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has assured other Democratic senators that Casey would be completely supportive of Democratic efforts to block pro-life judicial nominees.

“There’s no worry on judges,” said Schumer, who was instrumental in recruiting Casey to run against Santorum. “And judges is the whole ball of wax.”

 National Right to Life’s St. Martin agrees with Schumer about the importance of judicial appointments. She said that Casey’s position on judges and his support for funding “family-planning” programs offered by abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood are two major areas where Casey caters to pro-abortionists.

Said St. Martin, “He’s giving them two key things that could help prevent us from ever protecting unborn children.”


Homosexual Rights

Casey has also come under criticism from Catholics for his support of homosexual civil unions.

And while Casey has said that he supports the traditional definition of marriage, he opposes amending the federal constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

In an interview posted on the website of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference at, Casey said the federal marriage amendment campaign “is being used in Washington by politicians and consultants to divide America, demonize people, and sow seeds of fear to reap political gain.”

Santorum has been a strong advocate of the marriage amendment.

“My opponent, unfortunately, does not place as high value on marriage as I do or as the Church does,” Santorum said in an e-mail interview with the Register (see sidebar).

In 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document entitled “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” It states that all forms of homosexual unions are immoral and must always be opposed by Catholics, and it stresses that “Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians” (No. 10).


Homosexual lobbyists are openly supporting Casey against Santorum.

In February, Casey was the featured speaker at a fund-raising dinner in Philadelphia organized by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading homosexual lobby group, to raise money to defeat Santorum.

And since September 2005 Casey has received more than $160,000 in campaign contributions from the Human Rights Campaign.

Joseph Cella, president of Fidelis, a Michigan-based Catholic advocacy organization, said the donations from the Human Rights Campaign are only one example of Casey’s willingness to accept money from groups with anti-Catholic perspectives.

Cella cited donations to Casey by the pro-abortion interest group as another example.

During the debate in spring 2005 about whether to amend the Senate rules on confirming judicial appointments, released an ad mocking Pope Benedict XVI. It showed the Pope standing outside the Supreme Court holding a gavel, with the caption “God already has a job. ... He does not need one on the Supreme Court. Protect the Supreme Court rules.”

Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, said in a May 23, 2005, press statement that the ad was flagrantly anti-Catholic.

“The implication that a Senate rules change would give the Catholic Church undue influence over the Supreme Court plays to the worst of anti-Catholic bigotry,” Flaherty said.

In an interview with the Register in February, Casey said criticism of his acceptance of funds from groups like the Human Rights Campaign was politically motivated.

“I think most of the criticism, if not all of the criticism on some of these questions comes from people who don’t support me,” Casey said. “They support Sen. Santorum, and I understand that.”

Cella said Casey’s explanation isn’t adequate. He accuses Casey of having deliberately misrepresented himself as a social conservative who is in tune with Church teachings on life and family issues, even though his position on individual issues indicates otherwise.

“Bob Casey Jr. hides behind the good name of his father in front of socially conservative voters, but the truth is he supports Plan B abortion drugs, homosexual civil unions and homosexual adoption,” Cella told the Register. “Moreover, he accepts hundreds of thousands from radical liberal organizations who are staunch advocates of partial-birth abortion and homosexual ‘marriage.’”

Added Cella, “Time and time again, Casey portrays himself as a social conservative yet his words and actions reveal he cannot be trusted.”

Tom McFeely is based

 in Victoria, British Columbia.

Santorum: ‘Casey Owes Catholics the Truth’

PITTSBURGH — Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says “many things” separate him from his Democratic opponent Bob Casey when it comes to integrating their Catholic faith with their political lives.

Santorum spoke about these differences in an email interview with the Register. Casey’s campaign office declined to return calls from the Register seeking a similar interview with Casey.

What distinguishes you from your opponent in terms of upholding Church teachings?

Many things distinguish me from my opponent when it comes to the teachings of the Catholic Church. First, my opponent does not support the traditional family in the same way the Church’s teachings do. He is heavily funded by gay rights and liberal activist groups like the Human Rights Campaign, Stonewall Democrats,, and Liberty PA, because he supports civil unions, same-sex adoption, and several other same-sex initiatives.

My opponent also supports emergency contraception, which is against the Church’s teachings. Not only does he support it, but he recently called for the “morning-after” pill, or Plan B, to be “widely available” over the counter. Siding with NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion leaders like Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer, he was pleased at this “advance” for women.

On the other hand, I have been endorsed by the PA Pro-Life Federation PAC, National Right to Life PAC, LifePAC, and the PA Pro-Life Union. I have fought hard and been a leader defending life at all stages.

The Catholic Church also has a great history of providing Catholics with an enriching choice, and supports educational choice. Bob Casey Jr. does not support school choice, including providing assistance to families who would want to send their children to Catholic schools. I believe that parents need to be involved at all levels of education, and if they wish to send their children to a parochial school, they should be empowered with the tools and assistance to do so.

Casey said that he does not support the federal marriage amendment because, in his words, “the amendment is being used in Washington by politicians and consultants to divide America, demonize people and sow seeds of fear to reap political gain.” How do you respond to that comment?

My opponent, unfortunately, does not place as high value on marriage as I do or as the Church does. I strongly believe that marriage is the bond that holds families and communities together. When we no longer place a great emphasis on the importance of marriage, we are allowing for the demise of our communities and our children.

My opponent is a supporter of civil unions, allowing same-sex partners to have all the rights and privileges of traditional marriage. Civil unions are marriages masked with another name, and statistics show that civil unions do not have the same societal benefits as marriage.

Not only does my opponent support civil unions, but he also opposes a constitutional amendment on both the state and federal level to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage are not ambiguous. We all know that the teachings show us that traditional marriage is sacred, and should be respected and cherished.

Casey is formally pro-life on abortion, but there is little reference to abortion or to other specific pro-life issues on his campaign website. Do you think he needs to do more to demonstrate his convictions, in order to justify his claim of being pro-life?

My opponent owes Catholics the truth. First, he needs to define his convictions. Saying he is pro-life but supporting the FDA’s decision to make emergency contraception available over the counter is a contradiction according to the Church’s teachings, for example.

My opponent is trying desperately to court as many groups as possible. By calling himself “pro-life” but failing to further explain his positions shows that he is trying to be everything to everyone.

The sanctity of life is very important. People must step forward to protect the unborn because they cannot defend themselves. Catholics need leaders in the U.S. Senate who are not ashamed of their views and will step forward and lead the effort for what is right. My opponent’s blatant efforts to hide his convictions show that he will not be a leader on issues important to Catholics.

There are those who say that while Casey may not have as strong pro-life credentials as you do, he nevertheless may have demonstrated more political courage in proclaiming a pro-life position, given the hostility of the Democratic Party to restrictions on abortion. How do you reply to that argument?

As I mentioned before, I do not agree that Mr. Casey has shown “political courage.” If he had that courage, he would return the more than $168,000 he accepted from, a group that has attacked the Pope and the Catholic Church and pushes an anti-Semitic agenda. He also would not be so heavily supported by pro-abortion champions like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and groups like NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood.

The Democratic Party is hostile to pro-life groups and individuals. That is why it is so crucial that Republicans maintain the majority in the House and Senate. Bob Casey Jr., if elected, would not be in a leadership position, and he has also said that “abortion would not be his focus in Congress.” If we lose pro-life leaders in the Senate, there simply won’t be any pro-life bills that make it to the Senate floor that Bob Casey Jr. could vote for or against.

 — Tom McFeely