“For most of our nation’s history, [for] Catholics in public office, the question was: Could they be American enough?” said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Now, “the question centers on how Catholic the candidates are.”
. . . An estimated 66 percent of Catholic Republicans think it’s sinful to have an abortion, compared to 48 percent of Catholic Democrats; those are only slightly higher numbers in each party than among Americans generally. Thirty-one percent of Catholic Republicans and 57 percent of Catholic Democrats think the Church should recognize gay marriages; almost a year after same-sex marriage became legal in the United States, Catholics were on average more enthusiastic about the unions than other Americans, despite the Church’s staunch opposition. Only about half of Republican Catholics said there’s “solid evidence” that global warming exists in a June 2015 poll, compared to 85 percent of Catholic Democrats. And only 43 percent of Catholic Republicans said they agree with Pope Francis on immigration in 2015, compared to 54 percent of Catholic Democrats. The whole flock is openly defiant of their Church on the death penalty, with 63 percent of all Catholic Americans supporting the policy.
“Catholics have, in a sense, come out of their ghettos,” said Steve Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. “They engage in political life less tribally than they have in the past.”