Washington Prowler

In Communion With Kerry

The organic ways of a wayward Catholic. Plus: Colorado drinks in Coors.

By 4.13.04

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EASTER BUNNY
Sen. John Kerry did indeed receive the sacrament of communion during Easter Sunday services, and made sure his presidential campaign press people told reporters about it. Kerry has been thumbing his nose at Roman Catholic bishops, who of late have been complaining the Kerry should not be receiving the sacraments given his public support of abortion.

But Kerry's latest foray into showing off his faith has revealed interesting political aspects that more people should know about.

As one might expect from an elitist, when home in Boston, Kerry does not attend a traditional Roman Catholic parish church. Rather, he attends Mass at the Paulist Center, a pseudo-theological institute and home for wayward Catholics that operates on Beacon Hill, near Kerry's home.

The Center, which includes a small chapel, is known as a hotbed for old-line liberation theology holdouts from the 1970s and 1980s. "When the radicalized Maryknoll seminaries came under investigation by the Vatican for their continued teaching of liberation theology back in the 1980s, these folks in Boston picked up the mantle," says a priest in the Boston archdiocese. "We don't have straight oversight of the place."

The Paulist Center features a number of adherents of the liberation philosophy, which played a pivotal role in the Marxist uprisings in El Salvador and Nicaragua back in the late 1970s and 1980s. A number of far-left Jesuits are regular speakers at the Center, which lately has featured classes on "Tapas Acupuncture" techniques and a series of lectures of how best to remove the Church hierarchy in order to evolve the Catholic Church into a nontraditional democracy.

Kerry's attendance at the Paulist Center, besides its close proximity to home, was thought by some Catholics to be an attempt to avoid any embarrassing run-ins with the Boston Diocese, which in the past has expressed its displeasure with Kerry for his pro-abortion positions.

That said, it was the Kerry campaign's idea to look for ways to highlight the candidate's rebellious position in the church by looking for a conservative diocese or parish that would refuse him communion in front of press.

FOR PETE'S SAKE
Today and Wednesday, Pete Coors, a longtime backer of conservative causes and the brewer of pretty good beer, will be traveling across the state of Colorado introducing himself to the voters as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

According to Republican National Committee sources, Coors was recruited not by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chaired by Sen. George Allen, but by the state GOP, which was looking for a bigger name than former Rep. Bob Shaffer to challenge the favorite in the race, state attorney general Ken Salazar, a conservative Democrat.

Salazar jumped into the Senate campaign after prohibitive favorite, incumbent, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, announced his retirement for health reasons. Salazar, a Democratic rising star in Colorado, is a pro-life Democrat who appeared ready to roll over Shaffer, a three-term congressman with ties to legendary retired U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong.

Shaffer had been lining up support from the state GOP until late last week, when Coors' plans to run were leaked. On Monday, Shaffer received a call from Gov. Bill Owens, who withdrew his endorsement from Shaffer, and is expected to announce on Tuesday his support for Coors. Shaffer is not expected to step out of the race, though a third Republican candidate, Dan O'Bryant, a law professor, did so on Monday.

Coors has not spoken publicly about his candidacy, though he has been lining up experienced political and campaign staffers for a run for more than a week. Many of them were recommended to him by Owens, who is expected to serve as an unofficial senior adviser to the campaign.

Some early supporters of Shaffer believe that he may end up pulling out of the race for the good of the party, and to give Coors an easier and earlier shot at setting his image in voters minds and to take on Salazar.

"This is no knock on Shaffer at all, but Pete Coors is the guy who can beat Salazar, and in a time like this, with such a close election coming up, we shouldn't be tearing at each other," says a Republican House staffer, who is mulling returning to Colorado to help Coors.

Actually, some GOP officials hope Shaffer stays in the race, if only to force Coors to become a candidate capable of challenging the polished Salazar. "Coors can go one of two ways. He can be a Bill Simon or he can be like Arnold Schwarzenegger," says an RNC political operative. "Shaffer will help Coors develop. If Coors doesn't develop, then Shaffer will probably beat him in the primary."

Allen was taking heat in Washington from Republican leadership for letting Coors slip through his radar. Allen had known that Campbell was mulling retirement long before he actually announced it. Rumors had been swirling in Washington for months that Campbell might not run. Still, Allen appeared to be caught short by the retirement announcement, and seemed to have placed all of his bets for Colorado on Owens, who announced last month he would not run.

Coors almost immediately becomes one of the highest profile candidates the GOP has recruited in a lackluster election year. He also becomes a critical cog in Republican hopes to hold on to the Senate majority.

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