How Santorum Became a Strict Catholic
The Republican candidate wasn't always so religious
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2012 5:10 PM CST
Rick Santorum holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution as speaks during a campaign stop at the Christ Redeemer Church, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, in Cumming, Ga.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – Rick Santorum wasn't always a strict Catholic who spoke out against prenatal testing and wanted to "throw up" at the thought of separating Church and state. Neither was his wife, Karen, who dated an abortion doctor and moved in liberal circles in the 1980s. But when the pair met in 1988, they resembled "two halves of a circle coming together," says a Santorum aide: two people with half-forgotten Catholic roots who returned to family, God, and deeply conservative politics, the New York Times reports.

Santorum admits that others have affected him: Karen's father and Republican senator Don Nickles both helped pull him more deeply into Catholicism. The death of his unborn baby with Karen in 1996 affected both of them, convincing them that “God had a purpose ... and they were going to live out that purpose in their lives," says a Santorum friend. Santorum's hardline beliefs have lost him the Catholic vote—in every primary so far, in fact—but Pope John Paul II felt differently, calling him a "great man." Says Santorum's friend: "It was like a message from God, that he was living his life in the right way, that his path was correct.”