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November 1, 1996     The Message
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November 1, 1996

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1, 1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana K , Kemp take spotlight as speakers for annual AI Smith dinner By TRACY EARLY gave no response when asked if tions and several individuals, political book" during their 1928 Democratic presidential Catholic News Service (CNSi -- It was night at this Smith dinner. President Albert Gore, nominee for a sec- erm, and his Republican Jack Kemp, spoke in the presidential candi- the choice made it ng dinner since when the speaker was Savoy. he New York Post, rces, report- 3ardinal John decided President Would not get the tradi- tion extended to s to dinner this reportedly was the Veto of the ban on abortion. time Joseph Zwilling, for the cardinal, told Service he did accuracy of the could not con- night of the dinner at a op Cardinal O'Connor he was snubbing Clinton. In an earlier interview with a New York television reporter, the cardinal had said he would not be happy introducing Clin= ton without making some com- ment about his disappointment at Clinton's veto. According to reports, dinner organizers decided that if they could not invite Clinton, neither could they invite Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and so extended the invitation to the vice-presidential candi- dates. The dinner, named for the New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential candi- date Alfred E. Smith, a Catholic, was begun in 1945 by Cardinal Francis J. Spellman to raise funds for medical charities. Alfred E. Smith IV, who serves as master of ceremonies of the dinner, announced that it raised $700,000 in 1995 for the Smith Foundation. Tickets this year were $600, and about 1,200 people attend- ed. In addition, special contri- butions came from Mutual of America Life Insurance Co., the Rosensteil and Wasily founda- The dinner, held shortly before the November elections, is traditionally political in atmosphere but nonpartisan in spirit. The political turnout this year was better than some years. Dais guests included New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani; Gov. George E. Pataki; New York's U.S. senators, Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Republi- can Alfonse D'Amato; U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn; and a former Democrat- ic candidate for vice president, Geraldine Ferraro. "This is a political evening in which political differences are set aside," said Cardinal O'Con- nor. The speakers stayed true to tradition. Alluding to discus- sions of Clinton adopting Repub- lican positions, Kemp jokingly said of Gore, "No other vice president in the history of America has been forced to remain so loyal while his presi- dent switched parties in the middle of his term." Kemp also accused Gore of pulling "the lowest, dirtiest, most unconscionable trick in the recent TV debate: "He called me a nice guy." That brought the worst possi- ble headlines for anyone com- peting in today's politics, Kemp added. In the more serious part of Kemp's speech, he again called on the football metaphors for which he has become known. "Coach (Knute) Rockne once said that football is a game which teaches character, whether you want to learn about it or not," he said. Kemp said Rockne meant that "you get knocked down a lot and character comes in when you decide to get back up." A1 Smith was one who never gave up despite prejudices expressed by the signs reading, "No Irish need apply," he said. And in what could have been a reference to polls showing the Republican ticket far behind, Kemp said that "we are often more apt to learn from defeat than we are from victory." Gore told some jokes on him- self, including one that "A1 ore is so stiff the racks buy their suits off him." He went on to ask why there was a dinner named for the candidate and not one for that year's Democratic vice-presi- dential candidate, Joseph Tay- lor Robinson. And he asked whether the fact that Robinson was from Arkansas had anything to do with the omission. He brought a new feature to the AI Smith din- ner -- a slide show -- and also made jokes about obscure vice presidents of the past, and then about his own efforts to "break the vice-presidential mold." His slides had been altered to put Gore in various settings, such as carrying injured female gymnast Kerri Strug at the Olympics and joining the group with Clinton when as a youth he greeted President John F. Kennedy. The A1 Smith dinner teaches political leaders "not to take our- selves too seriously" and brings "civility to the whole process," Gore said. In concluding remarks, Car- dinal O'Connor said the pro- ceeds of the dinner helped Catholic hospitals maintain their commitment to the sacred- ness of life, including the life of the unborn and the dying. sis: Lawsuit shows why some voter guides cause problems  PATRICIA ZApn R atholic News Service offices of the general counsel for ference to be distributed by with guides from outside groups Campaign staff reviewed their the U.S. Catholic Conference. parishes or other church entities, in previous elections. It also may work with attorneys in the wake (CNS) piece of paper and election.related and bumper pervasive es of colored paperin ques- the from a Dierdre Halloran, associate general counsel, and other staff attorneys fielded question after question from bishops, pastors and parishioners seeking guid- ance about whether it was appropriate to hand out guides from the Christian Coalition and other groups at their churches. This election year, the general reli. )tions or tangle lan ay illus. Election ,ed the July cal2q. S.Pecific n 1992 Coali- ng counsel's office paid particular T ........ he February memo recommended dioceses allow only voter guides approved or produced by the diocese or state Catholic conference to be distributed by parishes or other church entities. Scribes itself as founded by and 1988 candi- Robertson. FEC, voter and telephone to ille- Itributions to the coalition "totally and totally Will be fully will have as cit- aid a state- execu. Christian n affiliates sought to through In 1992,  hook at the I I III II The lawsuit against the Chris- tian Coalition addresses issues of federal election law, not tax exemption, Halloran explained. The coalition is not classified as a tax-exempt, nonprofit group like the Catholic Church is. But the tax code is even more restric- tive about what activity exempt organizations may engage in than the elections law is about what is considered par- tisan and subject to financial limits, she said. "Whether or not the Christian Coalition is ultimately successful in defending themselves, this certainly tells Catholic dioceses about the need to be careful in distributing other peo- ple's voter guides," she said. "Lawyers don't fre- quently get the chance to say, 'I told you so' like this." More dioceses are preparing their own attention to voter guides in a voter guides this election year, memorandum on tax code impli- Halloran said. That seems to be cations of political campaigning partly because of experiences by church entities. The USCC be a response to the USCC's largest-ever effort at distribut- ing its quadrennial political responsibility statement and voter education projectsbeing encouraged by the U.S. bishops "I think the bishops may no.t agree with the (tax code) rules," Halloran said. "In fact some of them seem to chafe under them. But there's an increased level of sensitivity to (the rules)." The Catholic Campaign for America, which seeks to bring Catholic teachings into consid- eration in public policy, took a hard look at its own election- related efforts in light of the Christian Coalition case. "Half our work involves get- ting Catholics to be connected to their faith," said Mike Ferguson, executive director of the Catholic Campaign for America. "We are not strictly a political organiza- tion like the Christian Coalition. We're spiritual and political." "Fortunately, we have very explicit teachings of the pope, the Gospels, the magisterium ... to back up our positions when people try to tar us as 'political," he said. Although the Catholic of the Christian Coalition's law- suit, "anyone familiar with the IRS code knew we weren't even close to "iolating the law." Nor are the efforts of the Interfaith Alliance expected to be affected by the FEC's atten- tion, said Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop P. Francis Murphy, a board member of the group of religious leaders formed in 1994 to counter the Christian's Coali tion's goal of being the nation's main faith-based voice in poli- tics. The Interfaith Alliance's objec- tives are more directed at encouraging civility and toler: ance while renewing the nation's commitment to family values, Bishop Murphy said. "The direc- tion of the bishop's political responsibility statement is the way to go." Jon Paone, press secretary for the Interfaith Alliance, said the organization will be creating its own voter guides in some parts of the country, particularly those areas whele the Christian Coali- tion is perceived to have had strong influence in the 1994 con- gressional elections. and some state bishops' confer- ences produce candidate ques- tionnaires on issues of concern to the church, noted the memo. But other organizations fre- quently ask to distribute their election material through parishes. "Outside voter guides should be approached with extreme caution," the memo said, with the sentence italicized for effect. Not only might such guides fail to cover the range of issues important to the church, it con- tinued, they may not fit the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service code which allows churches to be exempt from taxes. The February memo recom- mended dioceses allow only voter guides approved or produced by the diocese or state Catholic con- Panel disagrees on which candidate will benefit from Catholic vote By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A panel of political commenta- tors disagreed April 10 on the existence of a Catholic voting bloc and on whether President Clinton or Republican presi- dential candidate Bob Dole might benefit from it. "There are suburban voters, upscale voters, voters who belong to health clubs -- that may be stronger than religiosi- ty" in determining voting pat- terns, said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report. "Religion is not unimpor- tant," he added. But a voter's Catholic faith may be "offset by other variables" when he or she decides how to vote, R0then- berg said. But Kate O'Beirne, Washing- ton editor of National Review, said "the evidence is over- whelming that religion informs Catholic political sensibilities" and that millions of Catholic voters feel "no firm attachment" to either political part),. "It's not a bloc like it has been historically" for the Democratic Party, added Mrs. O'Beirne, who said she remem- bered the days when it was "heresy" for an Irish Catholic to switch to the Republican Part): The two commentators were part of a panel of five dis- cussing "The Catholic Vote in American Politics." Chris Matthews, host of"Pol- itics" on CNBCM, predicted that Clinton would win enough Catholic votes in November to gain a second term as presi- dent, despite strong Catholic support for'the partial-birth abortion bill vetoed by Clinton.