Four Names You Should Know

CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter

October 17, 2003

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Dear Friend,

First, I'm very sorry I didn't send you an e-letter last week. I've 
been doing a lot of traveling lately, and just wasn't able to sit 
down long enough to write anything.

As it is right now, I'm in Rome for John Paul II's anniversary, and 
the beatification of Mother Theresa. It's been amazing, and I'll give 
you a full report as soon as I get back next week. (A couple things 
have happened that I think you'll find very interesting...)

Today, I wanted to bring something else to your attention. Don't 
worry, it's good news.

But to get there, I'll have to start with a little bad news...

If I asked you to name the first Catholic politician who came to 
mind, who would it be?

Most people would probably say Sen. Ted Kennedy, since he's the 
biggest "Catholic" name in politics today. It's pretty sad, really. 
The most recognized Catholic politician in our country is one who has 
sold out his faith for anti-Catholic and pro-abortion legislation. 
Not very encouraging for the future of Catholics in politics.

That's why I wanted to tell you about a few up-and-coming Catholic 
politicians who you'd be proud to know were on our side. They don't 
have big names -- yet -- but what they do have is a commitment to 
their faith that equals their political enthusiasm. These are men of 
principle, energetic and articulate leaders who could change the way 
we think about Catholics in politics.

And best of all, these men are young -- they'll be around a long 
time after Kennedy's star fades. So without further ado, here are a 
few names to be watching in the months and years to come...

You may have already heard of Bobby Jindal. A 32-year-old Louisiana 
native, Jindal already has an impressive list of accomplishments 
under his belt. He served as the head of Louisiana's Department of 
Health and Hospitals at the ripe old age of 24 and is widely credited 
for solving the state's Medicaid crisis while in office. He was a 
Rhodes Scholar, president of the University of Louisiana system, and 
an assistant secretary for planning and evaluation of the federal 
Department of Health and Human Services. Not bad for someone barely 
into his 30s.

Currently, Jindal is running for governor in Louisiana, and people 
are impressed with his enthusiasm and original ideas for dealing with 
everything from education to the economy, infrastructure to health 
care. He has a highly developed plan for implementing these ideas. 
(Right now, the governor's race is a dead heat.)

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Jindal is his faith. 
Raised a Hindu by his Indian parents, Jindal began exploring 
Christianity while in college, eventually making his way into the 
Catholic Church. He's now a member of St. Jude Catholic Church in 
Baton Rouge (along with his wife and one-year-old daughter). But 
Jindal doesn't attempt to separate his religion from his day-to-day 
life in politics, and he's made faith and family issues an important 
part of his platform. "Religion is not an exclusively private 
matter," Jindal explains, "and people of faith should not be required 
to separate their faith from their daily lives, their professions, or 
from public discourse."

To that end, Jindal promises to advance a number of important causes 
for faith and family, first among those being the protection of life, 
from conception to natural death. And more than just mouthing 
pro-life beliefs, Jindal has a number of plans in the works to shore 
up the distance between faith and practice: promoting adoption 
instead of abortion, offering crisis pregnancy assistance, and 
supporting abstinence education programs.

While Jindal is certainly one rising Catholic political star, there 
is another:  the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. A 
father of two and devout member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in 
Landover, Steele has been widely recognized by his peers as a man of 
sterling character and an effective politician. He was selected as 
Maryland State Republican Man of the year and the Chairman of the 
Maryland State Republican Party. President Bush appointed him to the 
Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy. Even his 
Catholic parish honored him as their Man of the Year in 1998.

In addition to these honors, he's made numerous media appearances, 
where he's displayed a commanding presence and a wickedly quick wit.

Steele isn't afraid to speak out on tough issues, even if it means 
going against the status quo. In March of this year, Steele broke 
with convention by attending the Annapolis March for Life rally. 
Those involved in the rally said it was one of the only times a 
political figure has ever publicly supported their cause. The fact 
is, Steele has shown a great commitment to stand up for the truth, no 
matter what the cost.

I was lucky enough to see this myself at our meeting with the 
bishops on September 8th. Steele was present and really impressed me 
with his courteous nature and insightful comments. He stood up before 
the bishops and told them that real leadership means proclaiming the 
truth and fighting for what is right, even when it seems unpopular. 
This is exactly what he called the bishops to do... to act like 
leaders.

I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of Michael Steele in the 
future.

Two others who belong in the company of Steele and Jindal are 
Washington state senator Dino Rossi and chairman of the Republican 
party for Oregon, Kevin Mannix. Both are strong pro-life Catholics. I 
had the opportunity to meet them during my recent travels in the 
Northwest, and was truly impressed with both. 

And of course, these aren't the only signs of hope among Catholic 
politicians. In fact, just as younger Catholics tend to be more 
faithful in their beliefs than their parents, so too do the younger 
Catholic politicians tend to be more Catholic in their political 
positions. 

This bodes well for the future.

So while it might be easy sometimes to despair when "Catholics" like 
Ted Kennedy actively oppose the teachings of his Church, just 
remember that there are plenty of faithful Catholics working outside 
of the spotlight who, with God's grace, will be around long after 
Kennedy leaves the scene.

I'll write more next week,

Deal

P.S. By the way, if you know of other faithful Catholics involved in 
politics (particularly if they're not well known) please drop me a 
quick email. I'd love to hear about them.


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