Dear Diary... For me, it was just a usual Saturday Vigil Mass except that it was not in a church but at the Republican Convention. Bobbi and Dan Lungren accepted my invitation to lector. I quickly rounded up a Eucharistic Minister, an African American woman from Sacramento. She was happy to be able to fulfil the "first precept of the Church."

Yes, it is still a precept of the Church to attend Mass on Sunday. However, when Doc Burch, the Chaplain of the Republican Party, invited me to celebrate the Vigil Mass and provide the invocation at the banquet later, my first thought was, "Celebrating Mass for Catholics at a Republican Convention--who would be there besides me?" Was I in for a surprise! The hierarchy of the Republican Party abounds with Catholics. So much for the stereotype that all Catholics are Democrats. There were even coins in the collection. So much for the stereotype that only fats cats are Republicans. A standing room only crowd of over 150 Republican Catholics attended Mass.

After the Mass, I had an opportunity to talk with length with the could-be Governor. He invited me to the Golden Circle reception, "John will show you where." John being the very pleasant person who had been assisting me set-up for the Mass. John helped pack and lug all the Mass paraphernalia to my car. Since these hands are made for chalices not calluses, I gave John the heavy pieces. I do not travel lightly.

Afterward John led interference through crowds of conventioneers, who all seemed to know him by name. We were ushered with smiles past the "guards" into the Golden Circle VIP reception without them checking if we were on the invitation list. Golden Circle membership benefits include photo opportunities with prominent GOP figures. That night it also included an autograph from Olympic Gold Medal winner, Kent Seffes.

The first person I ran into—literally and physically, was a parishioner. John left to stand in line for my glass of wine. "Father, you are the last person I would expect to see at a Golden Circle reception. But what really impresses me," my parishioner volunteered after we exchanged, "How nice to see you’s", "Is that John McGraw, the Vice-Chair of the California Republican Party volunteered to stand in line for your drink. Are you one of those "fat cats" we hear so much about?" "Hardly," I assured her. "I'm not even a fat kitty."

Apparently some people planning the Republican Convention remember their Baltimore Catechism or have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Yes, the Church still has positive teachings, like attending Mass on Sunday, to help us in the growth of Christian love of God and neighbor. Those teachings have not changed. What has changed is how some Catholics use the Church’s teachings—picking and choosing those they like and ignoring those they do not. Worse yet, some of them are running for public office, flaunting their Catholicism to the Catholic vote, while flouting the Church's teachings.

Frankly, I find it refreshing that Lungren, as a Christian, is following the teachings of the Catholic Church. He said that he is not going to soften his stand against abortion to get elected. That worries some people in the Republican Party. However, if a recent poll is an indication, perhaps Lungren’s stand on abortion may gain him votes in his bid for Governor of California. More Californians are beginning to understand that pro-choice is an euphemism for pro-murder. Is public opinion finally swinging toward the Pro-Life camp? God, I hope so.

When the California Democrats held their convention, I was not invited to celebrate Mass. Nor was any other priest invited; nor was any Protestant Minister or Rabbi. There were no invocations, no prayers, no mention of God. "The only time God’s name is used, is in vain", a prominent Protestant Minister assured me. Unlike the Republican Party, apparently the Democrats are not relying on prayer to a higher power than money to win this election. With money on their side, how can they lose?

Neither of the fat cats in this campaign are a shoo-in by any means. You can fool some of the voters some of the time, but you can't fool all of the voters all of the time. Maybe Davis will pull off a Truman-Dewey win and be the Democrat walking off with the June election. Maybe the voters will decide that the governor's office is not for sale. Perhaps both the front running fat cats, who are also pro-choice, will not be the people's choice in the voting booth. Democrat Al Checchi has said that because he is not dependent on campaign contributions, he is not beholden to special interests. He has spent more than $20 million on television advertising in the past five months. Rep. Jane Harman, also a Democrat with deep pockets, is heading into the primary running neck-and-neck with Checchi. While the race is to Sacramento, it seems to be to the bank for more of the green "In God We Trust" of special interest to their campaigns. Is California going to have the best governor money can buy? God, I hope not.

Fr. Joe Landi is a Parochial Vicar at St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco, the Archbishop’s Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, the Editor of The San Francisco Charismatics, and the Board Chair of Sierra Point Credit Union, South San Francisco, serving the Charismatic Renewal membership. Opinions expressed are his own. You can contact Fr. Landi by e-mail at sfccr@slip.net, view the listing of other articles in our May Newsletter, from which this article was taken, or return to the Main Menu. Copyright 1998, The San Francisco Charismatics, (ISSN 1098-4046). All rights reserved. Member of the Catholic Press Association of the Unites States and Canada.