Ted Strickland had hinted that he wanted to take the OFBI in a different direction, looking to help the poor more than working to strengthen traditional families. He seems to have done so by naming Eric McFadden to head the office. Mr. McFadden has experience with a number of groups that have worked to broaden the Catholic political perspective to include such issues as health care, jobs, the war, hunger, and poverty.
Some Googling Yields:
PBS's Religion and Ethics:
KIM LAWTON: From the basement of his home in the Columbus, Ohio, suburbs, Eric McFadden is waging a faith-based, grassroots campaign in support of John Kerry. McFadden launched the CatholicsforKerry04.org Web site in July after meeting the senator and, he says, connecting with Kerry as a Catholic.
ERIC MCFADDEN (Member, Knights of Columbus and John Kerry Supporter): I'm trying to give a voice to Catholics so that they can stand up and say, "I am a Catholic Democrat, and I'm proud, and these are the principles that I believe in."
From a Toledo Blade Story on a voting guide produced by Catholics In Alliance For The Common Good called: 'Voting for the Common Good: A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics':
“Some candidates claim to be pro-life, but never do anything pro-life once elected,” Mr. McFadden said.
And while some politicians do not support bans on abortion, they may seek to reduce abortions by providing health insurance and child care for single mothers or low-income families, or by boosting the minimum wage so parents will be better able to support more children.
Mr. McFadden said the voters’ guide is designed to benefit people of all denominations and faiths, as well as people of no faith — as long as they are seeking to use their vote to improve society.
What is this group (of which Mr. McFadden is a co-founder)? From an earlier Blade article:
“Basically, we came together after conversations in December, 2004, in which people felt that the message of Catholic social teaching really wasn’t being represented in the public conversation or policy,” Mr. McFadden said in an interview this week.
A few days later, he clarified this statement with a comment in a Dispatch piece:
The late Pope John Paul II condemned the Iraq war repeatedly, McFadden pointed out, yet the political debate two years ago focused largely on outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage.
"During the election cycle in 2004, our Catholic values were whittled down to four or five issues that were nonnegotiable," McFadden said. "We want to bring other issues into the discussion."It appears that this group evolved from a group called Catholics for Faithful Citizenship. Mr McFadden identifies himself as president of this group in a January 2005 presser weighing in on the DNC Chair selection process.
Did they accomplish anything? Well, the National Catholic Reporter called the Democrat's success in the competition for the Catholic vote in '06 "a real thumping,"
allowing Mr. McFadden to chime in thusly:
In Ohio, where Republican Gov. Bob Taft pleaded guilty to corruption charges and former Rep. Bob Ney faces prison for his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, corruption was a key contributor to Republican losses. “Catholics care more about right and wrong than right and left,” said Alexia Kelly, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. The group sponsored 10 voter forums in the Buckeye state and distributed more than 50,000 of its voter guides in Ohio parishes.
Traditional social issues like abortion did not play this year in Ohio, said Eric McFadden, the alliance’s Ohio field director. “I expected [Ohio Republican Sen. Mike] DeWine to roll out his credentials as a Catholic, and he certainly has good ones, but he never made it an issue,” said McFadden. DeWine lost to Democrat Sherrod Brown by more than 10 points, and lost the Catholic vote by 8 percentage points.
I'm a big separation of Church and State guy, so I've never been entirely comfortable with faith-based initiatives in general, but this looks like an excellent choice for the Office.