Catholic members of Congress edge up slowly

The number of Catholic members of Congress is slowing creeping higher, but the Catholic contingent, like the full Congress itself, has taken a decided turn toward the Democratic Party.

When the 111th Congress is sworn in Jan. 6, more than a quarter of its members will be Catholics, roughly matching the percentage of Catholics in the U.S. population and consistent with the statistical trends of the past decade.

Four years ago when the 109th Congress convened, it included 153 Catholics. Two years later there were 155 Catholics in the 110th Congress. But the new group of senators and representatives has 162 members who identify themselves as Catholics.

With nearly all the 2008 electoral battles settled by early December, and the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama still not filled, the Catholic delegation included 17 Democrats and nine Republicans in the Senate and 98 Democrats and 38 Republicans in the House.

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