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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Trump reaches out to Catholics, names advisory board that includes Santorum, Brownback

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

NEW YORK, September 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Trump presidential campaign announced last week the formation of a panel of Catholic leaders to advise the candidate on issues most important to them in America.

Part of the Trump Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee, the Catholic panel is seen as yet another step in confirming Trump's commitment to the protection and preservation of religious freedom and conservative moral values.

Joseph Cella, founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, will serve as the liaison for the members and the campaign. Members of the 35 faith leaders panel include Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care Frontline Pregnancy Centers, Deacon Keith Fournier of Common Good, Lisa Bourne of LifeSiteNews, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Francis Rooney, and other prominent national Catholic leaders.

LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne is serving on the committee in her private capacity in order to advise the campaign, and not as a representative of LifeSiteNews, which does not endorse candidates.

Dannenfelser has also been named the head of Trump's Pro-Life Coalition.

"It is encouraging to see Mr. Trump surround himself with longtime leaders and defenders of our values and our faith," Mallory Quigley, communications director for Susan B. Anthony List, told LifeSiteNews.

“A Hillary Clinton presidency would be a disaster for life and religious freedom – two issues at the heart of the Christian faith," Quigley continued. "Mr. Trump has committed to three specific pro-life policy initiatives and pledged to nominate Justices in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court."

Slattery, founder and director of New York City's Expectant Mother Care-EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, said he is honored. "For me, a vote for Donald Trump on November 8th offers our country the best hope to protect the innocent unborn and vulnerable elderly, to restore social order, and to provide economic stability for American families."

"First and foremost," Slattery told LifeSiteNews, "I endorse his sound plan to appoint justices to the federal bench and U.S. Supreme Court that will properly interpret and not twist the U.S. Constitution and our laws."

“Donald Trump will fight for Catholics, whereas Hillary Clinton is openly hostile to those issues of greatest concern to Catholics,” Congressman and panel member Sean Duffy (R-WI) wrote for a Trump campaign press release. “Catholics are particularly concerned that Clinton would pack the Supreme Court with 3-5 young ideological liberals" who will rule against pro-life legislation and religious liberty,” Duffy stated.

“People of faith feel bullied, disrespected and marginalized," the American Conservative Union's Matt Schlapp, also serving on Trump's panel, added. "We have slipped so far, so fast, at a pace quickened by our failure to uphold the dignity of unborn life.”

Brownback, whose state was the first to ban dismemberment abortion, is a well-known opponent of same-sex "marriage" and LGBTQ agenda legislation

Besides Duffy, other Congressmen on the panel include First Amendment Defense Act co-sponsors Andrew Harris (R-MD), Steve Chabot (R-OH), and Mike Kelly (R-PA).

Trump formed a similar Evangelical advisory panel in June, led by former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Gay activists were quick to find fault with Trump's newly formed Catholic Advisory Panel. Marianne Duddy-Burke of the "Catholic" gay activist organization DignityUSA admitted that she doesn't recognize all the names on the panel, but they nevertheless "raise grave concern."

"It seems to be a group hand-picked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Anti-LGBTQ, anti-women's rights, for the expansion of religious exemptions,” Duddy-Burke said.

"Overall, this seems to be a blatant attempt to court conservative Catholics, to shore up Trump's anti-choice credentials, and to show himself as aligned with Catholic doctrine," Duddy-Burke concluded.

Duddy-Burke then cited surveys that showed Catholics favor gay rights and said Trump is misinformed about what Catholics really believe. "I guess he has never seen the myriad polls that show that solid majorities of Catholic voters do not agree with official teachings and certainly don't believe they should be public policy in the U.S.," Duddy-Burke told the Washington Blade.

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