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Some Think Scott Brown Is Pro-life Catholic, But He's Not
Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010
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WASHINGTON (CNS)—The positive views expressed by some Catholics and pro-life advocates following the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate led many to believe that Brown is a Catholic who takes a 100 percent pro-life stand. Neither is the case.

Brown and his family attend New England Chapel in Franklin, Mass., part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, which has roots in the Protestant Reformation.

And although Brown opposes partial-birth abortion and supports parental notification before a minor can receive an abortion, he believes the decision on abortion "should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor," according to his campaign Web site.

"I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America," the Web site adds. "I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion."

In the Jan. 19 special election to fill the Senate seat occupied since 1962 by Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, Brown defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Catholic who supports legal abortion, by a 52 to 47 percent margin.

C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, said Brown's views were closer to the church's teachings on abortion than Coakley's were.

"We dodged a bullet by avoiding someone who would do great harm to the pro-life movement," he added.

Victor Pap III, executive director of Catholic Citizenship, an educational and advocacy organization based in Woburn, Mass., said in a news release that Brown's "unlikely victory demonstrated in a very clear, real way that candidates who take a center-right approach to abortion politics (i.e., vocal opposition to public funding, strengthening informed consent and maintaining the ban on partial-birth procedures) can ... appeal to independents and many Democrats who oppose abortion."

Although he did not refer to Brown's position on abortion, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston said he found it "refreshing that the people of Massachusetts have voted independent of their party affiliation."

"In the church we have always encouraged the people to look at issues rather than just vote party-line or vote for sectarian reasons," he told The Pilot, Boston archdiocesan newspaper.

Brown's church, New England Chapel, was founded in 1998 when a "core group of people set out to have a different kind of church for people in today's culture, showing God's love in ways they could relate to," according to the church's Web site.

"NEC is a place to feel accepted even if you have questions and doubts," the Web site says. "It is a place to find God in your own time, at your own pace—all without pressure and judgment, but with hope and patience."

The church's "core values" begin with a belief that "Scripture is the ultimate guide and authority for our faith and life," the Web site says. Other key values listed on the site are authenticity, caring, relevance and teamwork.

Although they are not Catholics, Brown and his wife, television reporter Gail Huff, have a special relationship with the 48 Cistercian nuns who live at Mount St. Mary's Abbey near the family home in Wrentham, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

"Brown raised money to buy a special golf cart to transport elderly sisters" and the couple "has assisted efforts to raise $5.5 million needed to replace the order's 50-year-old candy factory with an environmentally friendly plant, complete with solar panels and a wind turbine," the Globe reported.

Mount St. Mary's, founded in 1949 and believed to be the first monastery of Cistercian nuns in the United States, supports itself through the sale of its Trappistine candies and fudge.
Brown, an attorney, first met the nuns when they contacted him about an immigration matter.
"It has turned into a beautiful friendship," the Globe quoted Sister Katie McNamara as saying. "We pray for them every day."

Brown told the newspaper that "when you have nuns praying for you three times a day and you're not Catholic, anything that anybody can do or say about me, it's Teflon. It bounces right off."
Contributing to this story was Jim Lockwood in Boston.

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