A moment likely to interest Catholics in particular will be this evening’s speech at the Democratic Convention by Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey, Jr.. The younger Casey’s invitation is clearly something of a make-up for the 1992 episode when his father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, Sr., a pro-life Catholic, was denied a speaking slot. (Whether the denial was because of the elder Casey’s abortion stance or the fact that he would not endorse nominee Bill Clinton is a matter of ongoing exegesis.)
Recently elected as Pennsylvania’s junior senator, the younger Casey is also a Catholic and no fan of abortion, though whether he should be considered “pro-life” has become–no surprise–an object of political contention. (The Catholic League says here Casey is not pro-life.)
Casey gives an idea of what he’ll speak about in this interview with God-o-Meter’s Dan Gilgoff. Here’s an especially interesting bit:
Will your speech address the life issue, which is what many in the party identify you with?
Yes, it will. But it’s mostly a night and an opportunity when we’ve been invited to focus on the economy and frankly what a lot of folks are struggling with in Pennsylvania. But certainly not only that. There’s been a lot of discussion about ’92, but there is an obvious disagreement I have with Senator Obama and we want to make sure that people understand that difference of opinion.
One of the things that’s missing in this important debate in American politics is candid and honest talk about disagreements and an honest effort to try to find common ground. It’s much easier to say you don’t agree with someone and to continue fighting and discontinue the dialogue. It’s much harder but it’s important to be honest and show respect for others that we disagree but to actually work to bring the sides together.
One way to do that, and neither party has done enough on this, is to be very supportive of pregnant women. And the Pregnant Women Support Act is the only vehicle and the best vehicle to do that. It’s a challenge to the left and a challenge to the right and helps not only bring the sides together but provides affirmative options for women. When a woman becomes pregnant, for most women that’s a time of happiness and joy and they look forward to bearing a child. But to some it’s a crisis because they don’t have the economic wherewithal and the support they need. And a lot of women feel all alone and we don’t do enough to show solidarity with them. As Pope John Paul II said, we should show radically solidarity with the woman facing these challenges. This piece of legislation is the one vehicle in American government for bringing the sides together and for providing women with options.
But is Senator Obama supporting it?
He’s spoken about it. I have gotten to know him on the campaign trail and he spoke about the concept when he was at Rick Warren’s church. So I believe he will be supportive. We have not talked directly about the bill but it’s something I will be discussing with people in both parties. It’s going to take a lot of work.
It should be interesting, especially if Casey raises the issue of conscience and the party loyalist. When the Dems revised the platform plank on abortion, many said the proof would emerge in what was said in Denver and what was done during the campaign and during an eventual Obama administration, should he be elected. Tonight could be an indicator.
Cross-posted at dotCommonweal.