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Catholics and Politics

The Dynamic Tension Between Faith and Power

Catholic political identity and engagement defy categorization. The complexities of political realities and the human nature of such institutions as church and government often produce a more fractured reality than the pure unity depicted in doctrine. Yet, in 2003 under the leadership of then-prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." The note explicitly asserts, "The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility toward the common good." Catholics and Politics takes up the political and theological significance of this "integral unity," the universal scope of Catholic concern that can make for strange political bedfellows, confound predictable voting patterns, and leave the church poised to critique narrowly partisan agendas across the spectrum.

Catholics and Politics depicts the ambivalent character of Catholics' mainstream "arrival" in the U.S. over the past forty years, integrating social scientific, historical and moral accounts of persistent tensions between faith and power. Divided into four parts—Catholic Leaders in U.S. Politics; The Catholic Public; Catholics and the Federal Government; and International Policy and the Vatican—it describes the implications of Catholic universalism for voting patterns, international policymaking, and partisan alliances. The book reveals complex intersections of Catholicism and politics and the new opportunities for influence and risks of cooptation of political power produced by these shifts. Contributors include political scientists, ethicists, and theologians. The book will be of interest to scholars in political science, religious studies, and Christian ethics and all lay Catholics interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the tensions that can exist between church doctrine and partisan politics.

About the Authors

Kristin E. Heyer is Bernard J. Hanley Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. She is the author of Prophetic and Public also published by Georgetown University Press.

Mark J. Rozell is professor of public policy at George Mason University.

Michael A. Genovese holds the Loyola Chair of Leadership at Loyola Marymount University.

Reviews

"This outstanding anthology of a dozen essays on Catholics in U.S. politics by political scientists fills a void in political science literature."—Voice of Reason

"This readable and impressive collection advances the study of religion and politics by accomplishing, as does no other existing volume, such a thorough analysis of the behavioral patterns, constraints upon action, and possibilities for innovation that American Catholics and especially Catholic politicians face."—Theological Studies

"Important addition to the discussion regarding the role of Catholics in American politics."—American Catholic Studies

Endorsements

"A comprehensive analysis of the empirical and normative, the historical and contemporary, and the domestic and international dynamics of Catholics and political life. An invaluable resource for theologians and political scientists."—Clarke E. Cochran, Covenant Health System

"An excellent collection of diverse essays that does justice to the remarkably complex role that Catholics and the Catholic Church play in U.S. politics. Going well beyond facile notions of a unified 'Catholic vote,' the contributors show us that Catholics, Catholic institutions, and Catholic ideas permeate nearly every facet of contemporary American politics. This volume is an indispensable sourcebook for anyone seeking to understand the political role of this unavoidable religious community."—Timothy Byrnes, professor of political science, Colgate University

"From the courts to Congress, pivotal for both political parties, swelling with the influx of Latino, Asian, and African immigrants, and with former waves of European ethnics now fully assimilated in education and wealth, Catholics have never enjoyed such a vantage of numbers and position. . . . A must have text for any assessment of these new Catholic realities."—Stephen Schneck, director, Life Cycle Institute, The Catholic University of America

"One of the few books that systematically and effectively takes account of Catholic politics in its multifarious forms. It achieves a rare balance of providing an excellent and comprehensive overview of that complex world, while also offering a theory to better understand this important and diverse religious and political phenomenon."—J. Christopher Soper, Pepperdine University

Georgetown University Press
Religion and Politics

9781589012158 : catholics-and-politics-heyer-rozell-genovese
Paperback / softback
240 Pages
$29.95 USD
9781589012165 : catholics-and-politics-heyer-rozell-genovese
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Other Titles by Kristin E. Heyer

Kinship Across Borders

Kristin E. Heyer
Oct 2012 - Georgetown University Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback
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Prophetic and Public

Kristin E. Heyer
Jun 2006 - Georgetown University Press
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles by Mark J. Rozell

The Values Campaign?

edited by John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox
Sep 2006 - Georgetown University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback
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$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

The Christian Right in American Politics

edited by John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox
May 2003 - Georgetown University Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Prayers in the Precincts

edited by John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox
Mar 2000 - Georgetown University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

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Religion and the Struggle for European Union

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An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage

Emily R. Gill
Oct 2012 - Georgetown University Press
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Reverse Mission

Timothy A. Byrnes
Aug 2011 - Georgetown University Press
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Sanctifying Slavery & Politics in South Carolina

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