The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The “long, painful journey” of Rosa DeLauro

It’s rare to find serious discussion of religion and public life in the mainstream media — particularly when the religion involved is Catholic.

So it was all the more surprising to stumble across this lengthy profile of a Catholic congresswoman from Connecticut, Rosa DeLauro, in the Hartford Courant:

Rosa DeLauro thought she was such a good Catholic.


She attended Catholic schools from grade school through college. Her father received Communion daily. Her parents helped run the bingo games at St. Michael’s Church in New Haven.

“I grew up in an Italian Catholic household,” she said, “where the church informed all the values we were taught, the values of family, church and work ethic.”

Religion was a private but vital part of her life, and yet for years, the 3rd District congresswoman grew more frustrated and angry about what looked like the deepening crevice between her public work on a variety of issues and the positions of her church, where officials made it clear they were not pleased with abortion rights supporters.

What’s more, Republicans had defined themselves as the party of the devout, and they routinely painted Democrats as godless and worse.


So DeLauro went to her friend W. Douglas Tanner Jr., a Methodist minister in Washington she knew from Democratic Party retreats.

“I don’t understand,” she told him one day about 10 years ago. “Why am I viewed as some sort of godless individual? Why? Why? Me, who grew up in my faith. What is this disconnect in terms of the political arena and the public service?”

Tanner told DeLauro she was not alone, that a lot of other members of Congress, particularly Catholics, were struggling with the same dilemma.

He encouraged them to talk more to one another about their faith, to learn to become more comfortable with expressing their views on religion publicly – something most politicians used to work hard to avoid – and to figure out how to translate their teachings into public policy.


And so, in 2007, after years of soul-searching, seminars and informal talks with colleagues and church officials, Rosa Luisa DeLauro, proud communicant at St. Michael’s, graduate of Lauralton Hall High School in Milford and Marymount College in New York, led the effort to write a letter to Catholic bishops expressing her opposition to the Iraq war. And she joined Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, in successfully pushing the “Reducing the Need for Abortion Initiative,” which will spend millions on adoption, family planning and like-minded programs.

The Catholic Rosa DeLauro is now very much the public Rosa DeLauro. It has been a long, painful journey.

To read why it’s been long and painful, follow the link.

Comments read comments(7)
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Deacon Volker

posted September 30, 2007 at 10:56 pm

Sorry but this comes across as just another paid political PR piece. There are so many issues here that all render down to people that insist the institution change to suit them…instead of recognizing THEY must have the change to suit the institution. O’Brien’s quote is sad, “…they wanted to take a broader look at what being Catholic meant”. There IS NO BROADER LOOK! You ARE or you ARE NOT.DeLauro is so misguided and needs the corrective love of her Church when she spews that tired line, “…protecting the most vulnerable among us”. Hog wash…your policies KILL the most vulnerable among us. Wake can’t have it both ways.

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deacon joe

posted October 1, 2007 at 9:24 am

Ms. De Lauro is trying to incorporate the teachings of her faith to form her conscience. Her conscience is her guide and she must follow it …That is church teaching… Don’t tell me the Church doesnt change. The Church advocated the use of slaves…Come on Deacon, follow the words of our founder…”judge not lest you be judged”

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Gabriel McAuliffe

posted October 1, 2007 at 11:09 am

Stretch one’s conscience? That seems an odd turn of phrase.Wrestling with one’s conscience? Who wins?I do not stand here as one in judgement over Ms. De Lauro’s soul, but I do have a few questions as to how she explains her understanding of morality.Could one wrestle with one’s conscience over the death penalty and come out in favor of it?Could one wrestle with one’s conscience over government funding for anti-poverty programs and come out against them?Maybe the positions that Ms. De Lauro takes are the views of her constituents. However, is it always morally right simply to represent the views of one’s constituents?I wonder if Ms. De Lauro would participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign, where participants pray outside an abortion clinic. We simply pray for those all involved. No nasty signs or pictures. Maybe she could join us. It is simple prayer.May God bless her as she struggles.

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Pristinus Sapienter

posted October 1, 2007 at 11:13 am

Any who can voice any acceptance of abortion – except as forced as we are by law, an exception rather tepid in the words and actions of any legislator – has little to say to or for Catholicism. They have broached that right which Protestant founders realized must come first that anything else – rights, duties, privileges, honors, obligations, faith, reason, etc. – means anything. May I suggest that the lady legislator is a blind dolt? I would not so deign to judge her, but her ideas, words, actions, INactions? For instance, where is there in abortion that pursuit of truth which will free us from our own sinful ways?I need not judge any others’ souls to judge their words and actions as very far indeed from the Church of Jesus Christ. Even in Saint Paul’s ‘exception for slavery’ he would have them treated with dignity – not slaughtered or maimed, and not killed in their innocence.And, there is no substitute for a well-formed conscience. (And, how does the well-formed conscience abide the disobedient slaughter violating the Fifth Commandment? Seeking to act against our soldiers’ efforts to be in harm’s way for us, but not so act against killing the unborn?) In lieu of such well-formed conscience, I would suggest docile and nearly slavish servitude to Papal leadership in Christ’s Church’s magisterium. That would entail much more than Sundays and Bingo at Saint Michael’s

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posted October 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Sigh – yet another Catholic in politics who chooses political power over truth and right. “Look, look what I’m doing for the poor!” she cries — while profits pour into abortion clinics.

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Deacon Volker

posted October 1, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Deacon Joe, sadly I have to argue with your comment. In my opinion Ms. DeLauro is doing many things BUT incorporating the teachings of her faith to form her conscience. Yes, the Church instructs us to follow our conscience…but specifically our well-formed conscience. What it appears De Lauro and others of her ilk are doing is nothing more than becoming Catholic when it’s politically convenient and forgetting any of those pesky little Church teachings that don’t happen to fall in line with their cause d’jour.And no, I would not dare judge her, that I am certain will be handled by the One better suited, however the same Church teaches that we are specifically to correct our errant brothers and sisters when it appears they are in danger of hell and I seem to remember reading something about “Thou shall not kill”. Call me closed minded, but I think the Nazi guarding the gas chamber door was as guilty as the guy that pulled the lever, how can it be any different in today’s Holocaust.

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posted October 1, 2007 at 11:41 pm

What struck me most was DeLauro’s equating religion with a stress-management/security blanket and her comment, “I may not pray every Sunday, but I go to church. I go to church.” That’s a bit like a person who professes to be an engineer but doesn’t work consistently, but commutes to the building. I was saddened but not surprised to see that she equates receiving Communion as a right to which the Church must accede: “You have to understand the church’s role is to persuade and push but not sanction and create the Eucharist as sanction.”

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