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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The First Ex-Catholic President?

Speaking of Catholic discipline, and in light of a new national Q-poll showing Rudy Giuliani with a large lead over the rest of the GOP presidential field, I’ve gotten fascinated with a question that nobody seems able to answer: is Rudy, who is often described as a strong possibility to become the first Catholic Republican nominee for the presidency, actually still a Catholic?After all, the man has been married three times. His first marriage of fourteen years was annulled on grounds of a rather tardy discovery that he was married to his second cousin. I’m assuming this annullment was blessed by the Church. So his second marriage was technically his first. But what about his third? Did he somehow get a second annullment? Or was either his second or third (performed by none other than Mayor Bloomberg) marriage just a civil ceremony unblessed by the Church, which means Rudy was self-excommunicated by openly living in sin and/or pretending to be remarried?After reading Kate O’Beirne’s New York Daily News piece discussing Rudy’s unsettled but crucial relationship with Catholic voters, I sent a couple of emails around to conservative Catholic acquaintances, some of them not at all unfriendly to Giuliani, and found out nobody seems to know about Rudy’s formal relationship with the Church, beyond his own assertion that he is Catholic.I’m not interested in personally throwing stones at Giuliani about his marriages or his Catholic status. I couldn’t care less; politicians are not generally, much as we might wish otherwise, exactly moral, marital or religious role models. But given the suggestions of people like Bill Donohue in 2004 that John Kerry should be denied access to communion because he was pro-choice, it’s obviously worth asking if a conservative politician who’s not only pro-choice (despite his crab-like efforts to suggest otherwise) and perhaps, in the eyes of the Church, polygamous, can properly be described as “Catholic.” Or is the GOP, or for that matter, America, ready for the first ex-Catholic presidential candidate?

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