A group of conservative Catholic leaders endorsed Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The March 18 endorsement comes as Cruz is emerging as an alternative to Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
The group of more than 50 Catholic political and religious activists is led by Princeton University professor Robert George and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, reports Religion News Service. The Catholics cited Cruz’s strong opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, as well as his defense of religious freedom, in their endorsement.
“No one has been stronger than Ted in standing up for religious liberty and other fundamental constitutional freedoms. He will foster a culture, from the top down, that honors the Constitution -- one thing that, despite our differences, binds us all together as Americans,” wrote George in his endorsement.
Cruz enthusiastically accepted the support of Catholic leaders, holding that his ideology is in line with American Catholics, reports The Washington Times.
“These three issues have been central to my campaign since the very beginning, and I have been proud to stand with Catholics in the fight to protect the dignity of every life, the sacrament of marriage, and the First Amendment right to religious liberty,” Cruz said in a statement.
Even Catholic clergy joined in endorsing Cruz. Monsignor Ed Lofton, a South Carolina pastor, endorsed the Texas senator.
“The Church must not be silent as the nation chooses the leaders who will shape its future. I am personally working for the election of Ted Cruz, and I urge fellow Catholics to join me in giving Ted Cruz our support and our votes,” said Lofton.
Fellow clergy criticized Lofton for overtly endorsing a politician, which goes against the church's guidelines. Deacon Greg Kandra wrote online he was “a little surprised to see such a vocal and enthusiastic endorsement of a candidate by a Catholic priest.”
The Catholic Church reportedly has strict rules against its priests actively participating in or endorsing political parties.
Much of the Catholic support for Cruz may stem from opposition to Donald Trump.
Many Catholics pledged their support for a March National Review article claiming that Trump is “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.”