May 11, 2009
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — A campaign by outraged Roman Catholics to keep President Barack Obama from delivering the commencement address at Notre Dame shows that the gulf between the church and backers of abortion rights remains deep.
Yet the effort to get the school to rescind its invitation to Obama also highlights a political disconnect between the conservative Catholic hierarchy and millions of U.S. Catholic voters. . .
J. Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University who has studied the Catholic vote, said observant Catholics tend be more conservative and much more skeptical of Obama than those who don't practice the faith.
"There are large number of voters who are nominally Catholic but are not regular churchgoers and not tied in with Catholic life in any meaningful way," Wilson said. "Many of these people know nothing about what the bishops are saying about political matters because they're not in church to hear them."
Indeed, a new Pew Research Center poll found that 45 percent of Catholics who regularly attend Mass said it was wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama to speak. Fifty-six percent of nonobservant Catholics said the school was right to invite him.
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