Tucked at the back of Senator Eddie Lucio Jr’s office in the grand State Capitol building in Texas is a small side room that serves as a chapel. Statues and icons flank a centrepiece painting of Christ catching St Peter’s hands as he sinks into the waves.
Catholicism and politics have long had a strained relationship in America, permeated by suspicions of slavish obedience to Rome. Such tensions certainly aren’t going away. A number of prominent Catholic Democratic politicians at the national level have avoided discussing, or even supported, positions in conflict with Church teaching.
But Lucio, a Texas Democratic politician since 1986, says that “Any legislative bill I take up quite literally goes through the faith process.” In the past, such bills – some of which succeeded in becoming law – have covered issues such as feeding hungry schoolchildren, defending religious liberty, facilitating end-of-life care, and stopping taxpayer money going towards abortion.