Good evening everyone. I am honored to serve as a member of Ohio Catholics for Obama and to be with you tonight at this watch party.
For more than three decades, I served as a social action director for the Diocese of Cleveland. For 22 of those years, I had the privilege of serving as the senior director, managing the largest system of Catholic Social Action in the nation.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. One of the great documents of the Council was entitled “The Church in the Modern World.” Among other things, this document called lay persons to be leavens in society and to make it more respectful of human life and dignity. By participating in this forum and the debates that follow, you are acting as faithful citizens and carrying out the spirit of the Church in the Modern World.
I firmly believe that one’s faith ought to guide and inform one’s politics. Our nation is enriched when people of faith properly raise their values and voices on the critical issues of the day and bring them into the political arena. I also believe it is up to each individual Catholic to properly form his/her conscience in order to adequately address social and political questions, as well as, to cast their vote responsibly. As the U.S. Bishops have said in “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”: Catholics are called to measure every candidate, policy, and party platform on whether it protects human life and promotes human dignity, what it does to the poor and vulnerable and whether it promotes the common good. Candidates should also be judged by their integrity, philosophy and performance.
Personally, I am pro life, pro family, pro poor, pro “care for God’s creation,” pro worker rights, pro human rights, and pro peace making. I am also pro Barack Obama for President of the United States!
Some may say, the President is pro abortion, against religious liberty and he supports gay marriage. Should he not be disqualified for your vote? Over all the years I’ve worked in Catholic social action, I have never met the perfect candidate…the candidate who completely embraces the totality of Catholic social teaching on human life, human dignity and the common good. I have never met the candidate or public official, Democrat or Republican, who completely embraces the consistent ethic of life and carries it out perfectly in the political arena. So that leaves Catholics to make a prudential judgment in choosing a candidate. Let me be very clear, no one can or should tell you for whom to vote. It is up to you to make an informed and prudential decision. And, I am here to say this evening that a Catholic in good conscience can vote for President Barack Obama.
My judgment is this: President Obama deserves Catholic support because his vision, policies and plan for Ohio and the nation are more consistent with the principles and policies outlined by the U.S. Bishops in Faithful Citizenship than his opponent’s. I support the President because I believe he can best promote the overall common good of our nation. I support him because he best embraces the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. With a clear conscience, I support the President because he can best address the critical issues of the campaign, namely, the economy, jobs, poverty, health care, tax reform, the budget, immigration, the environment, and questions of war and peace. Apparently, I am not alone as the Pew research poll (September 27th) shows the President with a 54%-39% lead among Catholics over Romney.
My friends, the Romney/Ryan budget is a disaster for Ohio and the nation! According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that budget would get 62% of its $5.3 trillion in non-defense cuts from programs that serve people of limited means. The Center claims this budget would “likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).”
Romney/Ryan would dismantle Medicare, slash Medicaid and other health care for low-moderate income people. It would alter the child tax credit that lifts children out of poverty, reduce the social service block grant and cut funding for Pell grants, funding for job training and funding for food stamps. Regarding food stamps, we know the vast majority of those who benefit from food stamps are children. Bread for the World estimates that every Church in America would have to come up with $50,000 to cover the cuts in food stamps alone. Despite what Romney/Ryan believe…the charitable sector cannot relieve the pain and human suffering that would be inflicted by their cuts. Government has a role to pay. That is precisely what Cardinal Dolan said this past week. These radical cuts prompted the U.S. Bishops to state that the Ryan budget fails to meet the “basic moral test.” Speaking for the Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton said: “Deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people.”
These policies stand in stark contrast to what the President has accomplished with regards to tax cuts for the middle class, passing the Affordable Care Act (which includes a pregnancy assistance fund that connects pregnant and parenting teens and women to a wide range of supportive services), reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (a long time priority of the Bishops), extending unemployment benefits for those hardest hit (again supported by the Bishops), strengthening Social Security, saving jobs in the auto industry, reforming Wall Street and helping to create 4.4 million jobs, while taking steps to pull the country out of the Great Recession. In addition, the President’s position on tax policy best reflects principles of fairness and progressivity, consistent with Catholic Social Teaching.
Unfortunately, some have tried to paint the President as an enemy of the Catholic Church. Nothing could be further from the truth. Partnerships the President has advanced encompass human services, international development, health care, responsible fatherhood and more. Specifically, partnerships with Catholic non-profit agencies have totaled more than $1.5 billion over the past two years. His record also includes:
1. Partnerships with Catholic Charities agencies on human services, housing and other services of more than $1 billion, which is an increase of over $120 million from 2009-2010.
2. Partnerships with Catholic Relief Services of more than $500 million, which represents a significant increase since 2008.
3. Partnerships with the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services on refugee assistance totaling an average of $28 million per year.
In the remaining days of this historic campaign, I urge you to make this record known to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow parishioners and family members. I am proud to be among those who count themselves as Catholics for Obama and I am certain that his reelection is in the best interests of the people of our great nation.
Tom Allio served the Diocese of Cleveland for 321/2 years as a Director in the Diocesan Social Action Office; For 22 years he served as the Senior Director for Social Action, managing the largest system of Catholic Social Action in the nation.