denounces the latest round of right-wing attacks on President Obama and Catholic universities that surfaced after the President delivered a major policy speech on the economy at Georgetown University this past Tuesday. Critics falsely claim that a cross and a Catholic Christogram on a pediment were purposefully covered to "deny" or "nix" 'Jesus' during the President's speech.
"This is just another desperate attempt by a vocal minority on the far Right to create a false narrative intended to divide the Catholic community and President Obama," said Steve Krueger, National Director of the Catholic Democrats. "They should know that the White House and Georgetown followed a standard operating procedure for setting a backdrop for a presidential address. At a time when millions of people are struggling to pay the rent, these increasingly irrelevant critics don't realize that they have bigger concerns than the stagecraft of a presidential speech or being the watchdogs of Catholic identity for laudable Catholic universities. Coming on the heels of fueling a politically motivated controversy at Notre Dame, this pattern of attack is the reason Catholic Democrats has recently launched an on-line statement of support for Catholic colleges."
The White House issued a statement this week saying, "Decisions made about the backdrop for the speech were made to have a consistent background of American flags, which is standard for many presidential events. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false." The Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., a Jesuit and a senior fellow at the Woodstock Institute at Georgetown University, stated earlier this week that he doesn't "think this [was] motivated by theology." A Georgetown University spokesperson, also on record, stated that the White House's request was "consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches."
"President Obama's approval rating remains high among Catholics for good reason," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, President of the Catholic Democrats. "The Catholic sensibilities he developed as a community organizer in the parishes of Chicago are reflected in the policies of his presidency - from putting a halt to torture and passing a health care plan for vulnerable children (S-CHIP), to providing critical services for the poor in the Stimulus Package and in calling for an end to nuclear arms."
Last November, the majority of Catholics voted for President Obama by a margin of 54% to 45%, a rate higher than the 52% to 46% margin among non-Catholics. Earlier this month, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a new poll showing that the President's favorability ratings among Catholics had risen to 65% favorable vs. 23% unfavorable, exceeding both his election margin and his current favorability ratings among the general population (63% vs. 25%).