Obama’s Catholic Team

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Catherine Pinkerton.jpgThe Obama campaign rolled out its Catholic Advisory Council today, including: Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA-O8), Former Congressman Tim Roemer, Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, Congregation of St. Joseph, Tom Chabolla, Assistant to the President, Service Employees International Union, and Sharon Daly, Social Justice Advocate. The senator and sitting congressman tell you sufficiently where the campaign’s head is at, but to me, the most interesting name on the list is Sr. Catherine’s. Her St. Joseph congregation is based in Cleveland (she once served as its Superior General) but she’s a long, long-time social justice activist who serves on the board of a liberal D.C. outfit called Faith in Public Life and works on the Capitol Hill for NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby.
I asked my recently retired colleague, Sr. Patricia Byrne, a sister of a St. Joseph congregation based in Pittsburgh, whether she thought Sr. Catherine (the only member of the Council under the immediate authority of the Catholic hierarchy) was likely to draw any episcopal flak for working for a candidate who favors abortion rights. “Catherine Pinkerton is not afraid of the bishops,” she said. “My reading on it would be that if you’re allowed to vote for someone who is pro-choice you’re allowed to campaign for him. Unless you’ve got a bishop who’s a wacko. I hope that she doesn’t get smacked.”
In a conference call with reporters, Obama’s director of religious affairs Joshua Dubois said that the campaign would, among other things, be reaching out to women religious. According to Sr. Pat, the vast majority of sisters are Democrats but in her congregation at least, they’re pretty evenly divided between Obama and Clinton. So there’s work to be done.