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"When I was confirmed, that is what I thought I should be—a soldier in the Army of God." Raymond Flynn, November 10, 2004, San Francisco

by Valerie Schmalz

For years Raymond Flynn’s name was synonymous with Boston and liberal Democrats. The three-time Democratic former mayor is credited by John Kerry with the Massachusetts senator’s first successful try for the U.S. Senate. But this time around, Flynn decided enough was enough—and publicly called upon Kerry to renounce his pro-abortion litmus test of the Supreme Court in an ad placed in The New York Times in the month before the election.

"There is never any justification for taking innocent life," Flynn said during a stop in San Francisco Nov. 10th. "When John Kerry said he would not appoint faithful Catholics to the U.S. Supreme Court, all I could think of were the ugly days of ‘No Catholics Need Apply,’" Flynn said recalling the early 20th century.

Flynn, who spent five years as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican for President Clinton, now heads up Liberty, Life and Family as well as Catholic Citizenship. Catholic Citizenship is a lay political action group founded at the behest of Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley to register Catholics and bring Catholic values to the public square.

In the November 2nd election, the Catholic vote mattered, Flynn says: "Catholics brought their values into the voting booth."

"This was a seismic avalanche of values," the former Boston mayor said. Many Catholics chose George W. Bush because he embraced the Culture of Life, which is the foundation of Catholic values, the self-described "pro-poor, pro-life, pro-family" liberal Democrat said.

In Massachusetts, in the year 2000, 32 percent of Catholics voted for Bush. In 2004, despite a Kerry win statewide, 49 percent of Catholics picked Bush. That in a state where the Democratic presidential candidate was a favorite son. Massachusetts has re-elected Kerry to the Senate three times.

Nationally, analysts say Catholics voted for Bush at 51 percent up from 47 percent in 2000. Weekly church-attending Catholics showed even greater support, 56 percent to 43 percent.

"Catholics in Ohio put George Bush over the top," Flynn says of that state’s crucial switch to the Republican column in the election. "George Bush may be the first non-Catholic, Catholic president," Flynn said.

"It’s not that Catholics have become more conservative or more Republican. Catholics became more Catholic this election," Flynn told IgnatiusInsight.com. "President Bush is right, every American, religious or non-religious, has the right to practice or not practice their beliefs and still be a patriotic American."

"But people of faith have a right to be heard in the public arena on important moral and political issues," Flynn said.

Getting the message out is a struggle because most of the media ignores facts or messages with which it disagrees, Flynn said. He credits the shift in the Catholic vote to some bishops speaking out, to Priests for Life, and to work by lay organizations, including Catholic Answers’ "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics," Knights of Columbus, and Cleveland Catholic Forum.

"As long as you’re fragmented, you’re divided, you’re not going to have that kind of political influence and your issues are going to get ignored. And that is what has happened in the Catholic Church," said Flynn. While the ideals of the late Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernadin’s "seamless garment" are good, the concept is faulty, Flynn said.

Catholics need to keep the momentum going, the longtime successful pol told Insight. "While the 2004 election was an important and historic first step in Catholic political involvement, it must be a challenge and an invitation for more Catholics to get involved.

"Catholics must never again be treated like second-class citizens where both parties can ignore us or take us for granted. Catholic values, which helped build a great country and Church, must never again be dismissed by politicians, the media, or judges."

Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight.com.

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