Home | Join/Donate | Current Voices | Liturgical Calendar | What's New | Affirmation | James Hitchcock's Column | Church Documents | Search


Catholics and Political Responsibility

Statements by Bishops -
on Catholics and Political Responsibility
Updated June 27, 2013

"To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom..." [Pope John Paul II - Evangelium Vitae 20]

Bishops in the United States have individually expressed concern about Catholics who publicly oppose fundamental Catholic doctrine -- especially politicians. This section includes excerpts from published statements or columns by the bishops, or interviews, with links. (Unless otherwise indicated, click title to go to the complete version on this site, or to access on the site where it originally appeared.)

The items on this page are arranged chronologically, beginning with the latest. This section is updated regularly.

This page are statements between January 2008 and September 2008

Statements between 1990-2004 | Statements between 2005-2007 | Statements between January 2008- September 2008 | Statements between October 2008-December 2008 | Statements between 2009 - Present

Bishop Statements on President Barack Obama and Notre Dame, May, 2009

Index of Bishops' Statements

Chronological Order

  Alphabetical Order

Statements between Jan 2008- Sept 2008

Bishop William E. Lori - ?-2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 16, 2008
Catholic Conference of Kentucky - January 22, 2008
Cardinal Edward Egan - April 28, 2008
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - April 30, 2008
Archbishop Joseph Naumann - May 9, 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - May 19, 2008
Archbishop Joseph Naumann - May 23, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - June 21, 2008
Archbishop Raymond Burke - August 2008
Bishop Oscar Cantu - August 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - August 2008
Bishop James D. Conley - August 2008
Bishop Kevin F. Farrell - August 2008
Archbishop Jose Gomez - August 2008
Bishop David A. Zubik - August 2008
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - August 25, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - August 26, 2008
Cardinal Edward Egan - August 26, 2008
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt - August 26, 2008
Bishop Michael Sheridan - August 26, 2008
Bishop William F. Murphy - August 27, 2008
Bishop Jerome E. Listecki - August 28, 2008
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley - August 29, 2008
Bishop Gregory Aymond - September 2008
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski - September 2008
Cardinal Francis George - September 3, 2008
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas - September 4, 2008
Bishop R. Walker Nickless - September 4, 2008
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - September 4, 2008
Archbishop George H. Niederauer - September 5, 2008
Bishop Robert Vasa - September 5, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 6, 2008
Bishop Robert C. Morlino - September 7, 2008
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - September 8, 2008
Bishop James D. Conley - September 8, 2008
Bishop W. Francis Malooly - September 8, 2008
Bishop Edward J. Slattery - September 9, 2008
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - September 9, 2008
Bishop W. Francis Malooly - September 10, 2008
Bishop John F. Kinney - September 11, 2008
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - September 12, 2008
Bishop Robert W. Finn - September 12, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 19, 2008
Bishop William Murphy - September 19, 2008
Bishop George L. Thomas - September 19, 2008
Catholic Conference of Illinois - September 22, 2008
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo - September 26, 2008
Bishop James Vann Johnston - September 26, 2008
Bishop Paul Swain - September 26, 2008
Archbishop Timothy Dolan - September 27, 2008
Bishop Joseph F. Martino - September 30, 2008
Archbishop John G. Vlazny - September 30, 2008

Statements between Oct 2008-Dec 2008

Bishop Earl Boyea - October 2008
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr - October 2008
Virginia Catholic Conference - October 2008
Bishop David A. Zubik - October 2008
Catholic Bishops of New York State - October 1, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 3, 2008
Bishop Robert Hermann -October 3, 10, 24, 31, 2008
Bishop James Vann Johnston - October 3, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 4, 2008
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell - October 8, 2008
Bishop Kevin W. Vann - October 8, 2008

Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes - October 11, 2008
Bishop Arthur Serratelli - October 13, 2008
Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl - October 15, 2008
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - October 16, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 16, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 17, 2008
Bishop Michael O. Jackels - October 17, 2008
Bishop Larry Silva - October 19, 2008
Cardinal Edward Egan - October 23, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 23, 2008
Bishop J. Terry Steib - October 23, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 24, 2008
Bishop Kevin Rhoades - October 25, 2008
Bishop Blase Cupich - October 27, 2008
Bishop Earl Boyea - October 27, 2008
Bishop Robert J. Carlson - October 28, 2008
Bishop Ronald W. Gainer - October 28, 2008
Archbishop José H. Gomez - October 29, 2008
Archbishop John Myers - October 29, 2008
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - October 29, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 30, 2008
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory - October 30, 2008
Bishop Elden F. Curtiss - November 1, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - November 1, 2008
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor - November 1, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 3, 2008
Archbishop Raymond Burke - November 3, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - November 3, 2008
Bishop Armando X. Ochoa - November 3, 2008
Bishop John Ricard - November 4, 2008
Bishop Robert Hermann - November 7 & 14, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - November 11, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 14, 2008

Statements between January 2009 - Present

Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 21, 2009
Bishop Robert Hermann - January 23, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 28, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - February 23, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - March 4, 2009
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - March 6, 2009
Michigan Catholic Conference - June 15, 2010
Bishop Thomas Paprocki - December 1, 2010
Bishop Samuel Aquila - March 18, 2011
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - January 22, 2012

Statements between 2005-2007

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec - January 28, 2005
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga - February 15, 2006
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - June 15, 2006
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - August 15, 2006
Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore - August 15, 2006
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - August 15, 2006
Bishop Michael O. Jackels - August 15, 2006
Arizona Catholic Conference - September 2006
Arizona Catholic Conference - October 2006
Illinois Catholic Conference - October 2006
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - October 2006
Bishop Joseph A. Galante - October 27, 2006
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 28, 2006
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - January 31, 2007
Bishop Robert Vasa - March 1, 2007
Bishop Thomas Tobin
- May 31, 2007
Cardinal George Pell - June 12, 2007
Virginia Catholic Conference - October 2007
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 27, 2007
(USCCB - November Meeting 2007)

Statements between 1990 and 2004

Archbishop John Myers - June 1990
Bishop William Weigand - January 22, 2003
Archbishop Raymond Burke - November 23, 2003
Archbishop Alfred Hughes - January 14. 2004
Bishop Ronald Gainer- January 18, 2004
Bishop Robert C. Morlino - January 22, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - March 6, 2004
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - March 18, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - April 14, 2004
Cardinal Francis Arinze - April 23, 2004
Bishop Wilton Gregory - April 23, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - April 25, 2004
Bishop Robert Mulvee - April 27, 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - April 27, 2004
Bishop John M. D'Arcy - April 28, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - April 29, 2004
Bishop Joseph Galante - April 29, 2004
Bishop John Smith - April 29, 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - May 1, 2004
Bishop Carl Mengeling - May 2, 2004
Bishop Joseph V. Adamec - May 3, 2004
Bishop Thomas Wenski - May 3, 2004
Archbishop John Myers - May 5, 2004
Archbishop John Vlazny - May 6, 2004
Archbishop Elden Curtiss - May 7, 2004
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk - May 7, 2004
Cardinal Roger Mahony - May 13, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - May 13, 2004
Bishop Robert J. McManus - May 21, 2004
Archbishop Michael Sheehan - May 21, 2004
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - May 21 & 24, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - May 23-29, 2004
Bishop Donald Wuerl - May 25, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - May 26, 2004
Cardinal Francis Arinze - May 26, 2004
Bishop John Kinney - May 27, 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - May 27 & 29, 2004
Cardinal William H. Keeler - May 28, 2004
Archbishop Nzeki of Kenya - May 30-31, 2004
(USCCB - June Meeting)
Bishop Robert Baker - June 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - June (?) 2004
Bishop Raymundo J. Peña - June 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - June 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - June 1, 2004
Bishop Gerald Kicanas - June 2, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - June 5, 2004
Bishop William Skylstad - June 10, 2004
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza - June 11, 2004
Bishop Gregory Aymond - June 11, 2004
Archbishop William Levada - June 13, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - June 21-28, 2004
Bishop Victor Balke - June 24, 2004
Bishop Ronald Gainer - June 24, 2004
Bishop Robert Vasa - June 25, 2004
Cardinal Avery Dulles - June 29, 2004
Bishop Anthony Pilla - July 2004
Bishop Charles Grahmann - July 2, 2004
Bishop William Lori - July 2004
Bishop John Steinbock - July 2004
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr -July (?) 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - July 3, 2004
(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - July 4-9, 2004)
Bishop Michael Saltarelli - July 5, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - July 6, 2004
Bishop Bernard Harrington - July 8, 2004
Bishop Joseph Gossman - July 8, 2004
Bishop Victor Galeone - July/August 2004
Bishop Bernard Schmitt - July 13, 2004
Archbishop Alexander Brunett - July 19, 2004
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - July 22, 2004
Archbishop William Levada - July 31, 2004
Bishop George L. Thomas - August 2004
Bishop David Ricken - August, 2004
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - August 4, 2004
Bishop Robert Baker - August 4, 2004
Bishop Peter Jugis - August 4, 2004
Bishop Robert Carlson - August 2004
Bishop Gerald Barbarito - August 5, 2004
Bishop Rene Gracida - August 10, 2004
Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt - August 10, 2004
Bishop Bernard Schmitt - August 11, 2004
Bishop Peter Jugis - August 14, 2004
Bishop Howard Hubbard - September-October 2004
Bishop Gregory Aymond - September 2004
Bishop Leonard Blair - September 2, 3, 2004
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn - September 9,2004
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - September 16, 2004
Archbishop John Myers - September 17, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 18, 2004
Bishop Rene H. Gracida - September 19, 2004
Archbishop Alfred Hughes - September 20, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - September 22, 2004
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - September 22, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - September 24, 2004
Bishop Michael Saltarelli - September 30. 2004
Bishop Phillip F. Straling - October 2004
Florida Bishop's Conference - October 1, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - October 1, 2004
Bishop Joseph Gossman - October 3, 2004
Bishop Rene H. Gracida - October 5, 2004
Bishop William Lori - October 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - October 5, 2004
Bishops Raymond Boland & Robert Finn - October 7, 2004
Cardinal Francis George - October 10, 2004
Bishop Edward K. Braxton - October 11, 2004
Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt - October 20, 2004
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton - October 20, 2004
Bishop Thomas Wenski - October 21, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - October 22, 2004
Bishop Kenneth A. Angell - October 23, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 23, 2004
Bishop Paul S. Loverde - October 31, 2004
Bishop David Ricken - October 2004
Massachusetts Bishops - October 29, 2004
Cardinal Justin Rigali - October 28, 2004
Bishop George L. Thomas - October 2004
Bishop George Coleman - October 29, 2004
Bishop Timothy McDonnell - October 29, 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - October 29, 2004
Archbishop Sean O'Malley - October 29, 2004
Bishop David Zubik - October 29, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 30, 2004

Bishop Joseph V. Adamec - May 3, 2004
Bishop Kenneth A. Angell - October 23, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - April 25, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - May 23-29, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 30, 2004
Bishop Samuel Aquila - August 26, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 3, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - November 14, 2008
Bishop Samuel Aquila - March 18, 2011
Cardinal Francis Arinze - April 23, 2004
Cardinal Francis Arinze - May 26, 2004
Arizona Catholic Conference - September 2006
Arizona Catholic Conference - October 2006
Bishop Gregory Aymond - June 11, 2004
Bishop Gregory Aymond - September 2004
Bishop Gregory Aymond - September 2008
Bishop Robert Baker - June 2004
Bishop Robert Baker - August 4, 2004
Bishop Victor Balke - June 24, 2004
Bishop Gerald Barbarito - August 5, 2004
Bishop Leonard Blair - September 2, 3, 2004
Bishop Raymond Boland - October 7, 2004
Bishop Earl Boyea - October 2008
Bishop Earl Boyea - October 27, 2008
Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt- August 10, 2004
Bishop Edward K. Braxton - October 11, 2004
Archbishop Alexander Brunett - July 19, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - November 23, 2003
Archbishop Raymond Burke - June 21-28, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - September 24, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - October 1, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - October 5, 2004
Archbishop Raymond Burke - August 2008
Archbishop Raymond Burke - November 3, 2008
Bishop Oscar Cantu - August 2008

Bishop Robert Carlson - August 2004
Bishop Robert J. Carlson - October 28, 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - April 14, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - May 26, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - September 22, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - October 22, 2004
Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 16, 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - May 19, 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - August 2008
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - September 8, 2008
Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 21, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - January 28, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - February 23, 2009
Archbishop Charles Chaput - March 4, 2009
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput - January 22, 2012
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - August 15, 2006
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - January 31, 2007
Bishop Paul S. Coakley - October 16, 2008
Bishop George Coleman - October 29, 2004
Bishop James D. Conley - August 2008
Bishop James D. Conley - September 8, 2008
Bishop Blase Cupich - October 27, 2008
Archbishop Elden Curtiss - May 7, 2004
Bishop Elden F. Curtiss - November 1, 2008
Bishop John M. D'Arcy - April 28, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - March 6, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - June 5, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - July 3, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 18, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 23, 2004
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 28, 2006
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 27, 2007
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - June 21, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 6, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - September 19, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - October 4, 2008
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio - November 1, 2008
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo - September 26, 2008
Archbishop Timothy Dolan - September 27, 2008
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - July 22, 2004
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - August 4, 2004
Archbishop John F. Donoghue - September 16, 2004
Cardinal Avery Dulles - June 29, 2004
Cardinal Edward Egan - April 28, 2008
Cardinal Edward Egan - August 26, 2008
Cardinal Edward Egan - October 23, 2008
Bishop Kevin F. Farrell - August 2008
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell - October 8, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 7, 2004
Bishop Robert W. Finn - September 12, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 3, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 17, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - October 24, 2008
Bishop Robert Finn - November 3, 2008
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza - June 11, 2004
Florida Bishop's Conference - October 1, 2004
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn - September 9,2004
Bishop Ronald Gainer- January 18, 2004
Bishop Ronald Gainer - June 24, 2004
Bishop Ronald W. Gainer - October 28, 2008
Bishop Joseph Galante - April 29, 2004; May 5, 2004
Bishop Joseph A. Galante - October 27, 2006
Bishop Victor Galeone - July/August 2004
Cardinal Francis George - October 10, 2004
Cardinal Francis George - September 3, 2008
Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore - August 15, 2006
Archbishop Jose Gomez - August 2008
Archbishop José H. Gomez - October 29, 2008
Bishop Joseph Gossman - July 8, 2004
Bishop Joseph Gossman - October 3, 2004
Bishop Rene H. Gracida - August 10, 2004
Bishop Rene H. Gracida - September 19, 2004
Bishop Rene H. Gracida - October 5, 2004
Bishop Charles Grahmann - July 2, 2004
Bishop Wilton Gregory - April 23, 2004
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory - October 30, 2008
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton - October 20, 2004
Bishop Bernard Harrington - July 8, 2004
Bishop Robert Hermann - October 3, 10, 24, 31, 2008
Bishop Robert Hermann - November 7 & 14, 2008
Bishop Robert Hermann - January 23, 2009
Bishop Howard Hubbard - September-October 2004
Archbishop Alfred Hughes - January 14. 2004
Archbishop Alfred Hughes - September 20, 2004
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes - October 11, 2008
Illinois Catholic Conference - October 2006
Catholic Conference of Illinois - September 22, 2008
Bishop Michael O. Jackels - August 15, 2006
Bishop Michael O. Jackels - October 17, 2008
Bishop James Vann Johnston - September 26, 2008
Bishop James Vann Johnston - October 3, 2008
Bishop Peter Jugis - August 4, 2004
Bishop Peter Jugis - August 14, 2004
Cardinal William H. Keeler - May 28, 2004
Catholic Conference of Kentucky - January 22, 2008
Bishop Gerald Kicanas - June 2, 2004
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas - September 4, 2008
Bishop John Kinney - May 27, 2004
Bishop John F. Kinney - September 11, 2008
Bishop Edward U. Kmiec - January 28, 2005
Archbishop William Levada - June 13, 2004
Archbishop William Levada - July 31, 2004
Bishop Jerome E. Listecki - August 28, 2008
Bishop William Lori - July 2004
Bishop William Lori - October 2004
Bishop William E. Lori - ?-2008
Bishop Paul S. Loverde - October 31, 2004
Cardinal Roger Mahony - May 13, 2004
Bishop W. Francis Malooly - September 8, 2008
Bishop W. Francis Malooly - September 10, 2008
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga - February 15, 2006
Bishop Joseph F. Martino - September 30, 2008
Massachusetts Bishops - October 29, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - April 29, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - May 13, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - June 1, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - July 6, 2004
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - June 15, 2006
Bishop Timothy McDonnell - October 29, 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - April 27, 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - May 21, 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - June (?) 2004
Bishop Robert McManus - October 29, 2004
Bishop Carl Mengeling - May 2, 2004
Bishop Robert C. Morlino - January 22, 2004
Bishop Robert C. Morlino - September 7, 2008
Bishop Robert Mulvee - April 27, 2004
Bishop William F. Murphy - August 27, 2008
Bishop William Murphy - September 19, 2008
Archbishop John Myers - June 1990
Archbishop John Myers - May 5, 2004
Archbishop John Myers - September 17, 2004
Archbishop John Myers - October 29, 2008
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - August 15, 2006
Archbishop Joseph Naumann - May 9, 2008
Archbishop Joseph Naumann - May 23, 2008
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - September 12, 2008
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann - March 6, 2009
Catholic Bishops of New York State - October 1, 2008
Bishop R. Walker Nickless - September 4, 2008
Archbishop George H. Niederauer - September 5, 2008
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt - August 26, 2008
Archbishop Nzeki of Kenya - May 30-31, 2004
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 16, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 23, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - October 30, 2008
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien - November 11, 2008
Bishop Armando X. Ochoa - November 3, 2008
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - March 18, 2004
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - May 21 & 24, 2004
Bishop Thomas Olmsted - September 22, 2004
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - October 2006
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - September 4, 2008
Archbishop Sean O'Malley - October 29, 2004
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley - August 29, 2008
Bishop Thomas Paprocki - December 1, 2010
Cardinal George Pell - June 12, 2007
Bishop Raymundo J. Peña - June 2004
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk - May 7, 2004
Bishop Anthony Pilla - July 2004
(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - July 4-9, 2004)
Bishop Kevin Rhoades - October 25, 2008
Bishop John Ricard - November 4, 2008
Bishop David Ricken - August, 2004
Bishop David Ricken - October 2004
Cardinal Justin Rigali - October 28, 2004
Bishop Michael Saltarelli - July 5, 2004
Bishop Michael Saltarelli - September 30. 2004
Bishop Arthur Serratelli - October 13, 2008
Bishop Bernard Schmitt - July 13, 2004
Bishop Bernard Schmitt - August 11, 2004
Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt - October 20, 2004
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr - July (?) 2004
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr - October 2008
Archbishop Michael Sheehan - May 21, 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - May 1, 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - May 27 & 29, 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - June 2004
Bishop Michael Sheridan - August 26, 2008
Bishop Larry Silva - October 19, 2008
Bishop William Skylstad - June 10, 2004
Bishop Edward J. Slattery - September 9, 2008
Bishop John Smith - April 29, 2004
Bishop J. Terry Steib - October 23, 2008
Bishop John Steinbock - July 2004
Bishop Phillip F. Straling - October 2004
Bishop Paul Swain - September 26, 2008
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor - November 1, 2008
Bishop George L. Thomas - August 2004
Bishop George L. Thomas - October 2004
Bishop George L. Thomas - September 19, 2008
Bishop Thomas Tobin - May 31, 2007
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - October 29, 2008
(USCCB - June Meeting 2004)
(USCCB - November Meeting 2007)
Bishop Kevin W. Vann - October 8, 2008
Bishop Robert Vasa - June 25, 2004
Bishop Robert Vasa - March 1, 2007
Bishop Robert Vasa - September 5, 2008
Virginia Catholic Conference - October 2007
Virginia Catholic Conference - October 2008
Archbishop John Vlazny - May 6, 2004
Archbishop John G. Vlazny - September 30, 2008
Bishop William Weigand - January 22, 2003
Bishop Thomas Wenski - May 3, 2004
Bishop Thomas Wenski - October 21 2004
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski - September 2008
Bishop Donald Wuerl - May 25, 2004
Bishop Donald Wuerl - August 18, 2005
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - April 30, 2008
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - August 25, 2008
Archbishop Donald Wuerl - September 9, 2008
Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl - October 15, 2008
Bishop David Zubik - October 29, 2004
Bishop David A. Zubik - August 2008
Bishop David A. Zubik - October 2008
Michigan Catholic Conference - June 15, 2010

September 2008

Bishop Joseph F. Martino
Diocese of Scranton

Bishop Martino's Pastoral Letter for Respect Life Sunday
September 30, 2008

Click title for statement on the Diocese of Scranton's website - broken link.


Archbishop John G. Vlazny

Archdiocese of Portland: http://www.archdpdx.org/newsrel/statement-naral.html - broken link
September 30, 2008

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information, Contact:
Bud Bunce (503) 233-8373
bbunce@archdpdx.org

Statement of Archbishop John G. Vlazny on Governor Kulongoski hosting NARAL event

It has come to my attention that Governor Ted Kulongoski will be hosting a NARAL Pro-Choice political gala two days before our Respect Life Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. This is a source of embarrassment for our church and a scandal for the Catholic community. For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the Church. As I wrote in the Catholic Sentinel in August “the very core of all Catholic moral and social teaching is respect for the dignity of everyone. Ours is a rich heritage of social teaching which forms the basis of what it means to be a faithful citizen as a Catholic.”

While the grave evil of abortion continues to be promoted as a legitimate moral choice by Governor Kulongoski and NARAL, I invite Catholics to attend holy Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 5:30 p.m. the evening of this event, Friday, October 3. I also invite Catholics to attend the Respect Life Mass on Sunday, October 5, at 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral.

I call upon our Catholic people to express their displeasure to the governor and to remind him of the demands of personal integrity as a member of our faith community in the exercise of his office and public activities, 503-378-4582.

***End statement***

Click title below for related article

Archbishop criticizes Kulongoski on abortion rights fundraiser
by The Associated Press
Tuesday September 30, 2008, 2:34 PM


Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Milwaukee
Sept. 27, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
How can anyone be silent on this key civil rights question?


Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

September 26, 2008

A Shepherd's Message

By Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

October is pro-life month each year in the Catholic Church in the United States.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops always sends out an excellent packet of material to the parishes of the country to help them educate God’s faithful people on the urgency of the task before us in this great land. What is needed is a genuine change of mind, a conversion, to the significance of the life questions and a renewed respect for the dignity of each human person.  I want to emphasize to every priest, deacon, member of a religious community, and to every member of the baptized in this local Church to reconnect one’s faith to the life he or she leads each day, to intensify the commitment to human life in a consistent way that honors the Catholic Faith and that law written in each human heart.

This past April, Pope Benedict XVI visited our country and showed himself to be a man of great wisdom, humility and charity.  In the course of an address he gave to the bishops on April 18, he reminded them of the subtle influence of a peculiar form of secularism present here.  The profession of faith and belief is sometimes isolated to the Sunday Liturgy; during the week decisions are then made whether in unethical business practices, exploitation of the poor, and disrespect for human personal life from conception to natural death that contradict the very faith that has been proclaimed.  The Pope stated: “Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things ‘out there’ are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life… This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to ‘thinking with the Church,’ each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ.”

“External social bonds without an integral interior conversion” this is the nub of the problem for all believers, but especially those of the household of Catholic Faith.  I have been privileged to serve in this archdiocese for four years and I see many signs of growth, of enthusiasm for the faith by our young people at Confirmation, of intense pastoral work by our priests, deacons, religious and lay ministers.  I have also seen a certain “disconnect” by some, most especially in their treatment of the life issues in their daily life, in the living out of our witness of faith.  Conversion is, first of all, deeply personal and involves receptivity and a listening to the grace of God operative through Christ and through the Sacramental life of the Church.  Conversion also has institutional moments and demands of the Church as a corporate body to be unafraid and perseverant in the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.  If you receive the great gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord on Sunday, you must practice Eucharistic consistency.  For example, there is a growing pervasive attitude that has begun to accept as normal the intentional killing of an innocent human being through abortion or the elderly through assisted suicide.  Our faith alerts us to such a reality and is working in us day by day to act to end this “death attitude.”  There are many ways to assist a culture of life in our volunteer efforts and in our very manner of speaking.  There is also our consistency of believing when we go to vote.

Our Catholic Faith always represents a transformation of our mind and behavior, a growing sense of conversion and joy at finding this pearl of great price, our encounter with the Risen Lord. Conversion and repentance is not sad; it is a joyful recognition that spurs us into witness and into work for the transformation of the world from a desert into a garden.

In his Homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 19 of this year, the Holy Father spoke: “The Church is called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life… This is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people’s hearts.”  But the victory has been won by Jesus Christ.  It is for us to be actively receptive to his grace and to act with this new kind of freedom in our daily lives, our business lives, and our political lives.

Source: http://www.diogh.org/BishopPastorals/bishop3mess-090208.asp - Broken Link


Bishop James Vann Johnston
A Baby Is a Baby Is a Baby (link Broken)

September 26, 2008

Abortion always wrong

Recently, when the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, was announced as John McCain’s running mate, media and political types immediately focused on her pro-life positions, branding them extreme. Astonishment was expressed time and again in commentary such as: “She is against abortion even in cases of rape or incest!”

Were it not for Palin’s son Trig, who was born this past April with Down Syndrome, these same commentators might likely have added incredulously: “She’s even against abortion when the child has abnormalities or special needs!” When the dark eyes of this little boy looked out at the millions of American television viewers following his mother’s speech at her party’s convention, it may have been the most significant pro-life moment in American history. There were no words. There was a human face. There was no rhetoric. There was a baby.

As Catholics, this deserves our attention for several reasons. Firstly, when it comes to contentious issues in public life such as abortion, one is often led to consider a compromise position. For example, we often hear people add to their pro-life positions, “except in the cases of rape or incest.” This position appears at first to have an air of reasonableness about it. It also plays into the erroneous notion that the truth is always found somewhere in the middle of two extremes. But such is often not the case, as with abortion. Abortion is wrong in every instance. Why? Because in every instance, abortion is the taking of an innocent human life.

Children conceived as a result of the terrible crimes of rape or incest are still children. Likewise, children with special needs or abnormalities are still children. A baby is a baby is a baby. We should be outraged at the criminals who commit crimes such as rape or incest, and compassionate toward their victims, but neither outrage nor compassion bestow a right to kill the innocent. The same applies to those children who are diagnosed with an abnormality or deficiency in the womb: A baby is a baby is a baby.

Some acts, such as abortion, are wrong under any circumstances or in any situation. The church often refers to these types of acts as intrinsically evil. Abortion is not the only intrinsically evil act. Let’s use racism and adultery as other examples. What if I told you that I was against racism, except in some special cases? What if I told you I believed adultery was wrong, except in special cases such as when one’s marriage was unfulfilling? You get the point. Some moral issues and actions (those which are intrinsically evil) admit no middle ground or exceptions, even if one perceives some other good that might result from them. They are always wrong and there is no middle ground.

As the bishops of the US have pointed out in our document “Faithful Citizenship,” these acts have “a special claim on our conscience and our actions.” (FC, 37) Importantly, the bishops also point out that one cannot make the destruction of innocent human life morally equivalent to other issues involving human life and dignity: “The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.” (FC, 28, emphasis added)

Catholics believe that each human being is created in the image of God, and thereby recognize that every person has a special dignity bestowed by God which no other person can take away, and which all other persons must recognize. This is the foundation of all of our human rights, and these have been enshrined in the foundational documents of our nation and in the civilization that is America.

Pope John Paul II affirmed this truth that protecting the right to life is crucial to upholding all of our other rights: “The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights is not defended with maximum determination” (“Christifideles Laici” [“On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World”], 38). When it comes to loving God and loving one another, when it comes to embracing what is good and rejecting what is evil, it’s good to be an extremist.

Respect Life Sunday

The first Sunday in October is Respect Life Sunday. It is a time for us to pray for a deeper respect for human life in our nation. It is a time for us to recommit ourselves to working for causes that protect human life and dignity and to oppose those movements which diminish or seek to destroy innocent human life: abortion, euthanasia, the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. Other issues touch on human life too: racism, torture, and the death penalty. Let us align ourselves with Jesus, the Lord of Life, and strengthened by him, be witnesses and advocates for human life.


Bishop Paul Swain
September 26, 2008

Statement Regarding Initiated Measure 11

Click title for statement - link broken


Catholic Conference of Illinois
September 22, 2008

Illinois' Catholic Bishops have released a statement seeking to encourage Catholics to participate in the political process and to help them prepare for November's elections.  We urge all Catholics to read the statement and weigh the issues and all the candidates for elected office carefully before voting.

Click here for Press Release

Click here for Statement

Click here for Spanish Version

Links are broken


Bishop William Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Letter
Catholic Voters and Abortion: 2 Bishops’ View

Published: September 23, 2008

To the Editor:

Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes” (front page, Sept. 17) says the bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” would “explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons.”

Actually, the bishops said candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in a grave evil, and Catholics may never vote for them to advance those evils.

.... Click Here for the complete letter

Bishop William Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Brooklyn, Sept. 19, 2008


Bishop George L. Thomas
September 19, 2008

Formation of conscience critical to faith-filled voting

At a recent parish gathering, a man approached me to voice a very strong opinion. “Bishop,” he said, “we are hearing too much about politics from the parish pulpit.”

The gentleman did not appear to appreciate my response.

I told him that indeed partisan politics and individual endorsements have no place in the parish pulpit. But Church leaders have not only the right but the duty to help individual Catholics form their conscience and become educated about the principles of Catholic social teaching.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship state, “In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.”

Pope Benedict writes, “The direct duty to work for the just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful.” The role of Church leaders is to help shape the conscience of the laity and educate them in the vision, values and principles of Catholic social thought.

Far too often, the political process is characterized by bravado (or bravada) saber rattling, distorted facts, personal attacks, cynical sound bites, and talk show hype.

The Catholic Church calls for a different kind of political participation. It calls for informed involvement that is shaped by the deep moral conviction, a well formed conscience, concern for the common good and an abiding belief that all persons are made in the image of God.

The Church readily recognizes that political decisions are complex and multi-faceted. The average voter is faced with imperfect choices, competing values and platform planks that sometimes conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching.

What is a voter to do?

The Church offers keys to help unlock the doors to good decision making by providing a moral framework for principled engagement in political life.

“Human dignity,” writes Father Kenneth Himes, “is the point of departure for Catholic social teaching.” The foundation of Catholic social teaching begins with the belief that “humans are made in the image of God.” Himes continues, “Human beings are creatures of dignity and worth not because of any achievement on our part. Nor is our dignity traced to society’s conferral of it. Our dignity is founded upon a faith conviction, the doctrine of the Imago Dei. We are creatures made in the image of the Creator.”

This framework, rightly understood, neither treats all issues as moral equivalents nor reduces Catholic teaching to one or two issues.

Rather, the Church challenges the individual Catholic to think critically and evaluate politicians, proposals, planks and platforms through the lens of Catholic social teaching.

Catholic social teaching challenges us to defend human life from conception until natural death, and to uphold the fundamental moral obligation to respect the dignity of every person as a child of God, especially the weak and vulnerable.

This vision of the human person compels the Catholic voter to examine deeply a candidate’s vision of the human person and his or her position on issues affecting human life and dignity. This vision helps voters to weigh carefully and prayerfully all policies and platforms that affect justice and peace.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship cautions that Catholics are not single-issue voters. “A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support. (42)

The informed voter must pay close attention to a candidate’s political endorsements, moral character, lived experience and voting record. The principles of Catholic social teaching prompt the individual voter to avoid uncritical attachment to a particular party. Nor should we “let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths.”(14)

The consistent ethic of life is expansive and inclusive, looking beyond the issue of abortion to include a number of critical issues affecting society. These include euthanasia, human cloning and the destruction of human embryos for scientific research. The continuum also includes opposition to torture, unjust war, the use of the death penalty, genocide, attacks against noncombatants and racism.

The consistent ethic of life helps us to address underlying causes of human poverty, suffering and misery. It also prompts us to seek effective ways to combat evil and terrorism without resorting to armed conflict, except as a last resort, and always to seek first to resolve national and international disputes by peaceable means.

In the final analysis, Catholic social teaching focuses on what the rights and responsibilities of individuals and communities are, especially as these relate to the poorest, the weakest and the most vulnerable members of society.

In fulfilling these rights and responsibilities, American Catholics would do well to take a close look at Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, which is a helpful resource that helps enlighten a sometimes dreary and difficult path. May God guide us throughout these challenging and important days.

Source: http://www.diocesehelena.org/thomas/columns/09-2008.htm


Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas

and Bishop Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens, September 12, 2008


Bishop John F. Kinney

A  Shepherd's Care
THE VISITOR,

September 11, 2008

Election  is opportunity to put Catholic faith to work

The political conventions  have finally ended, and the nominees of each party have been selected.  Now each of us must sort through the rhetoric and campaign promises  and take on the very important privilege and responsibility as citizens  of this United States of preparing ourselves to cast our vote in  the coming election.

It is not the role of your bishop or your priests to tell you which  candidate to choose when you enter your polling booth. However, the  church does offer moral guidance and principles from sacred Scripture  and our tradition to assist us in forming our consciences, and it gives  us a clear moral framework for the decisions we need to make in November.

The church teaches that we have an obligation and a responsibility  to bring our faith commitment to the protection and defense of every  human life and our deep concern for the poor and most vulnerable into  the public arena.

... The Complete statement for September 2008 can be found at: http://www.stclouddiocese.org/Bishop/Bishops_homepage_new.html - (not online )

Bishop John F. Kinney
Bishop of Saint Cloud


Bishop W. Francis Malooly
September 10, 2008

Statement of Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, regarding Senator Biden’s statements on Catholic Church teachings on abortion:

September 10, 2008

Earlier today, our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement to clarify remarks recently made by Senator Joseph Biden. They explain the truth of the matter in a clear and concise way. As your Bishop, I want you to understand our Church teaching, embrace it and promote it.

The USCCB statement is as follows:

BISHOPS RESPOND TO SENATOR BIDEN’S STATEMENTS REGARDING CHURCH TEACHING ON ABORTION

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see www.usccb.org/prolife/whatsnew.shtml - broken link). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect the truth of the matter. The Church recognizes that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml - Broken link). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into those who have moral values and those who do not and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

It is my intention to build a supportive and trusting friendship with Senator Biden and as many public officials as I can. I will do my best, with your prayers, to assist him and all public officials as well as all citizens in our Diocese and beyond to understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society in the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and our entire nation.

Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, D.D.
Bishop of Wilmington

Source: http://www.cdow.org/cgi-bin/news/news.cgi?p_id=0308&ppinc=detail - Broken link


Bishop Edward J. Slattery

Bishop Slattery Issues Response to Pelosi, Biden Abortion Remarks
Diocese of Tulsa News
9/09/2008 - EOC Staff

In recent weeks, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Biden have been asked by Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press" to explain their personal opinions on the question of “When does Human Life Begin?” The essence of their views, which they both claim are developed from their experience as Catholics, is first, that the tradition is inconsistent (Pelosi), and second, that even if it is clear, it is a matter of personal faith which, in a democracy, ought not be imposed on others (Biden). Having made their views public, and by presenting themselves as Catholics, both Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Biden have invited a discussion about the legitimacy of their views.

I, and other bishops, have already stated that Speaker Pelosi’s position is clearly inconsistent with Catholic teaching, and to promote such a view is scandalous. There are many witnesses in the tradition that clearly state the Catholic view in opposition to Speaker Pelosi.

In view of the absolute duty that we all have of protecting innocent human life, it is also necessary to respond publicly to Sen. Biden’s remarks. In his interview, Sen. Biden explained that although he was prepared as a matter of faith to accept the teaching that life begins at the moment of conception, it would be wrong in a pluralistic society to impose that judgment on everyone else, who may be just as ardent as he is in their own faith. He remarked that abortion is “a personal and private issue.”

Sen. Biden’s remarks reflect two erroneous beliefs. It is plainly false to assert that the answer to the question of when human life begins is limited to the realm of personal and private faith and that therefore there is no basis for preferring one position over another. While it is true that Christian revelation provides a framework for understanding human nature, there is also biological evidence on when human life begins, that all persons of good will, and not just Christians, may examine. Also, the division that Sen. Biden creates between privacy and social responsibility is tenuous. He supposes that social responsibility ends at the point that we turn the decision over to individuals.

Modern science clearly proves that human life begins at conception. At the moment when DNA from the mother and the father combine, a new, unique human being, who will develop continuously until death, is created. From then on, the early zygote functions as a human being. It has specifically human enzymes and proteins, and, over time, it develops complex human tissues and organs. After this genetic transfer, it can never develop into any other kind of being. Even as it develops through the process of pregnancy, the human nature of the zygote, embryo, fetus, or baby never changes. It is this nature that directs and causes the miraculous physical transformation that takes place during the pregnancy.

In fact, the desire of some persons to destroy embryos in order to harvest stem cells is dependent upon the reality that they are already biologically human. Sen. Biden’s support for increased federal funding of embryonic stem cell research would therefore be at odds with his stated belief that life begins at conception. Contrary to some misconceptions, the early human embryo is not a vague collection of tissues without specificity. In fact the exact opposite is true. The first cells of this new human being contain all of the information that will guide its development throughout life. The process of embryonic and fetal development involves “switching off” the complete power of the early cells so that they only take on one function, like being a heart cell.

While there are some members of our society who would like to define this biological human being as someone who does not share our basic human rights, such as the right to its own existence, this is a dangerous path. We, as a human society, have gone this way before, with disastrous results. Inevitably, it ends with the act of murdering those whom we objectify, as we have seen with the lynching of African Americans, or the Holocaust, or the countless other genocides of the 20th century. Whenever we treat another human being as an object, a thing, that we may do with as we please, rather than as a human person made in the image and likeness of God, we diminish, and inevitably destroy that being, and ourselves.

It is also paradoxical to suggest that by throwing the cloak of “privacy” over the act of abortion, that individual choice can transform an evil act into something that is good, or even tolerable. If, as Sen. Biden believes, human life begins at conception, it is difficult to see how that view can be reconciled with the position that we, as a society, should legally allow individual persons to decide on their own if murder is wrong.

The modern day notion of “privacy” assumes that there is a neat division between the individual who makes a decision, and the rest of the human community. A “private” decision is one that is limited to the individual. However, in the case of abortion, this decision has implications not only for the mother, but also for the father, both of their immediate families, and, in fact, for all of our society. The mother and the father lose a child, the family a niece or nephew, or grandchild, and the rest of us, a companion in life. How we protect, or ignore, these smallest members of our human community defines who we are as human persons.

A democracy, in order to flourish, must attend to the defense of the values that are essential to the human community. Ignoring this hard work and simply relegating abortion to the sphere of individual choice allows a cancer to eat at our very core, as we permit some human persons to sacrifice the lives of others for their own personal reasons. As Catholics, we cannot accept the premise that in the name of “privacy” all choices are equally right.

Sen. Biden has opposed federal funding of abortions and backed the ban on partial birth abortions, and for that he should be commended. Yet, his justification for continuing to allow Roe v. Wade to stand as the law of the United States is incompatible with Catholic teaching.

Once an evil is truly seen for what it is, neither can an emphasis on “privacy” excuse one’s moral responsibility to act to stop it, nor can defining murder as a “right to choose” change what it is that is actually chosen.

Trusting always in the protection of Our Blessed Lady, whose immaculate womb first tabernacled the Word made Flesh, and asking for your prayers, I am

In Domino

Edward J. Slattery
Bishop of Tulsa

Download the letter in pdf form by clicking HERE (broken link).


Archbishop Donald Wuerl

Archbishop Wuerl on Science, Aquinas and the Catholic Faith 

September 09, 2008

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl sent the following letter to the priests of Washington in light of public comments about the teachings of the Catholic faith that were made by Senator Joseph Biden during a September 7, 2008 Meet the Press interview. While noting the respect due to public officials on policy issues, Archbishop Wuerl also highlights the difference between science, the theories of St. Thomas Aquinas and faith.

Dear Brother Priests,

In late August, I wrote to you following a discussion in the national media regarding what our Catholic faith says about when life begins and about abortion. Many of you took the opportunity to present and affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church on this important issue with your parishioners, and I thank you. These are teachable moments, and present an opportunity to highlight the consistency and clarity of our Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, again this week on Meet the Press, the Catholic teaching on human life was not clearly presented by a public official. In an interview, Senator Joseph Biden said he is “prepared to accept the teachings of my church” on when life begins, but would not “impose that judgment on everyone else.”

When asked about his stated belief that life begins at conception and his public record on abortion, he said, “I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously-based view that it’s at the moment of conception. There is a debate in our Church…that’s existed…Thomas Aquinas said…it didn’t occur until quickening, 40 days after conception. How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith.”

The role of elected officials to address the public policy issues before them must be respected, but the interpretation of the Catholic faith is the responsibility of the bishops. To avoid confusion among people of goodwill about the Church’s teaching on human life, it is important to state once again the Catholic Church’s constant teaching on human life, as well as clarify the difference between science, the theories of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the faith.

When life begins is not a matter of faith, but a matter of science. The scientific research available to us today confirms that the joining of the human egg and sperm begins a new human life. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that once conceived, that life will continue through its many natural stages, from embryo to fetus to infant to child and on until death. Religious belief does not change this scientific fact.

However, faith and the natural moral law guide us in how we treat this human life. The Catholic Church has been unwavering in its teaching, as we are told in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (paragraphs 2270-2271)

As you are aware, Saint Thomas Aquinas, who lived 800 years ago, shared this belief. Even while speculating on when the soul enters the physical body in light of biological theories of his time that have long since been disproved, Aquinas rejected abortion at every stage, calling it a sin “against nature” to reject God’s gift of life.

Our Catholic faith proclaims what is already written in our human hearts and recognized in our conscience – to kill innocent human life is wrong. The commandment “you shall not kill” is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “a privileged expression of the natural law” (2070). Modern science has demonstrated beyond any doubt that this innocent human life begins at conception. Defense of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but an act of justice.

In gratitude for your own teaching ministry and with every good wish, I am

Faithfully in Christ,

Donald W. Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

Source: http://www.adw.org/news/news.asp?ID=573&Year=2008


Bishop W. Francis Malooly
September 8, 2008

Quote from Bishop W. Francis Malooly homily at his Mass of installation as bishop of Wilmington:

"In early discussions, Bishop Saltarelli and I both agreed that this Feast Day of the Nativity of Mary would be a wonderfully appropriate day for the installation. Mary’s mother, St. Anne, carried a very special life in her womb which serves as a vivid reminder that every life is special. We will continue to stress the constant teaching of the Church that each person must respect every life from conception to natural death. And we will continue to seek the intercession of Saint Thomas More for Statesmen, Politicians, Supreme Court Justices, Judges and Lawyers—that they may be courageous and effective in defending and promoting the sanctity of human life, the foundation of every human right, the foundation of our love for the poor."

Full text of his homily is at: http://www.cdow.org/InstallationHomily.pdf


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
and Bishop James D. Conley

Public Servants and Moral Reasoning:
A notice to the Catholic community in northern Colorado

Monday, September 8, 2008

To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:

When Catholics serve on the national stage, their actions and words impact the faith of Catholics around the country. As a result, they open themselves to legitimate scrutiny by local Catholics and local bishops on matters of Catholic belief. In 2008, although NBC probably didn't intend it, Meet the Press has become a national window on the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants.

On August 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an ardent, practicing Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show's nationwide audience, while defending her "pro-choice" abortion views. On September 7, Sen. Joseph Biden compounded the problem to the same Meet the Press audience.

Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn't excuse poor logic or bad facts. Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, "it's a personal and private issue." But in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it. People might argue when human "personhood" begins - though that leads public policy in very dangerous directions - but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion.

Sen. Biden also confused the nature of pluralism. Real pluralism thrives on healthy, non-violent disagreement; it requires an environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigorously to advance their beliefs. In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion. It's certainly true that we need to acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible - but not at the expense of a developing child's right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith [emphasis added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception," then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.

As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit, he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false "right" to abortion it enshrines, can't be excused by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the "right to choose" an abortion simply masks what abortion is, and what abortion does. Roe is bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future through fair debate and legislation.

In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can't "impose" their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their "pro-choice" beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver

Source: http://www.archden.org/repository//Documents/ArchbishopChaputCorner/Addresses/PublicServants&MoralReasoning9.8.08.pdf

For a list of Archbishop Chaput's Faith and Public Life writings go to http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/384


Bishop Robert C. Morlino
Homily of September 7, 2008 

"Senator Biden does not understand the difference between articles of faith and natural law. Any human being regardless of his faith, his religious practice or having no faith. Any human being can reason the fact that human life from conception unto natural death is sacred. Biology not faith, not philosophy, not any kind of theology; Biology tells us science that at the moment of conception their exists a unique individual of the human species. It's not a matter of what I might believe. What my faith might teach me. What other people might ... Science the best science says at the moment of conception there is a unique individual of the human species. Senator Biden has an obligation to know that and he doesn't know it. Again I believe that after the Council some theologians, probably some priests, and some bishops allowed him to be confused about this matter. It's not pretty. The reason I bring this up is because Speaker Pelosi and Senator Biden are Catholics and there on television and they're giving out their ideas to Catholic people and they are causing confusion. They're suppose to believe in separation of church and state. They're violating the separation of church and state by confusing people. I have an obligation to teach. They're stepping on the Pope's turf and mine and they're violating the separation of church and state confusing God's good people. But why? Because they themselves were confused after the Council and I don't blame them for that. Bishop's allowed it, theologians did it and some priests did it and in Canada even some bishops did it."

transcribed from the mp3 accessible on Diocese of Madison site: : http://av.madisondiocese.org/madisonspp/audio/?f=BishopMorlino/Homily,%2009-07-2008,%20Bishop%20Robert%20Morlino.mp3


Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Judging the Candidates, September 6, 2008,
Put Out Into the Deep, Bishop DiMarzio's weekly column, The Tablet


Archbishop George H. Niederauer

Source: http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/about-us/news/?i=1308

Archbishop addresses recent comments made by House Speaker Pelosi

Last month, in two televised interviews and a subsequent statement released through her office, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Catholic residing in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, made remarks that are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church about abortion. It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced.

In his statement about Speaker Pelosi’s remarks, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., expressed the response of many bishops when he said, "We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops." In addition to Archbishop Wuerl, several other bishops have already appropriately and helpfully pointed out the errors in the Speaker’s remarks. Nevertheless, it is my particular duty to address them as well. Let me acknowledge even as I do so that Speaker Pelosi is a gifted, dedicated and accomplished public servant, and that she has stated often her love for her faith and for the Catholic Church. The Speaker has been supportive of legislation that helped to implement some of the social teachings of the Church. However, her recent remarks are opposed to Church teaching.

In The Catechism of the Catholic Church we find this statement: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, willed either as an end or a means, is grossly contrary to the moral law." (2270-71) The Catechism then quotes the Didache (also referred to as The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles), the oldest extant manual of church order, dating from the late first or early second century: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." In 2004 the bishops of the United States, in their statement, "Catholics in Political Life," said: "It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will."

On the television program "Meet the Press," on Sunday, August 24, 2008, Speaker Pelosi spoke of herself and the bishops of her Church in these words: "So there’s some areas where we’re in agreement and some areas where we’re not, and one being a woman’s right to choose, and the other being stem cell research." In April of this year, in a teleconference with Catholic News Service and other media she made a similar remark: "I have a sort of serenity about the issue. I come from a family who doesn’t share my position on pro-choice. The Church sees it another way, and I respect that."

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that, as Catholics, we believe what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals, for to hear the voice of the Church on those matters is to hear the voice of Christ himself. (Lumen Gentium, No. 25; Mysterium Ecclesiae, No. 2) Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects it from error. We believe that the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is the successor of Peter, the Rock on whom Jesus Christ has built his Church, and is not just another man who is entitled to his opinions on faith. We believe that we are called to trust the Spirit to guide the Church, so we do not pick and choose among her teachings.

Mr. Tom Brokaw, the moderator of "Meet the Press," asked Speaker Pelosi, "When does life begin?" She responded: "We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose." Later: "I don’t think anyone can tell you when life begins, when human life begins." Mr. Brokaw: "The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it begins at the point of conception." Speaker Pelosi: "I understand. And this is maybe fifty years or something like that."

Speaker Pelosi’s remarks called forth many responses, from Catholics in the pews as well as from bishops. As a result, on Tuesday, August 26th, two days after "Meet the Press" had aired, the Speaker’s office issued a statement on her behalf. It contained this sentence: "While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe[sic] to that view." That statement suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If ninety percent of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that makes Church teaching truer than if only seventy percent or fifty percent agree?

Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling. For instance, in 1861, as the Civil War began, a majority of the residents of Massachusetts opposed slavery, a majority of the residents of South Carolina approved of slavery, and in Missouri people were sharply divided on the issue. Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral "wash" in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that.

Since August 24th many Catholics have written me letters and sent me e-mails in which they expressed their dismay and concern about the Speaker’s remarks. Very often they moved on to a question that caused much discussion during the 2004 campaign: Is it necessary to deny Holy Communion to some Catholics in public life because of their public support for abortion on demand? I want to address that question in the light of the 2004 statement of the U.S. bishops, "Catholics in Political Life," and their 2006 statement on preparing to receive Christ worthily in the Eucharist, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper." Both statements can be found on the bishops’ website, usccb.org, and they lead the reader to conclude that this is a sensitive and complicated question, and does not lend itself to sound bites, headlines or slogans.

In their 2006 document, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper," the bishops begin by reminding Catholics that "the celebration of the Mass is the center of the life of the Church." The Eucharist joins each of us to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, unites us with the Risen Christ, and unites us with one another in Christ. Each reception of Holy Communion looks forward to our union with Christ forever in heaven.

The very first generation of Christians saw the need to examine one’s conscience regarding one’s worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. Writing around 57 A.D., St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup." (1Cor. 11;27-28) Of course we are never fully worthy to eat the bread and drink the cup, as we exclaim at each Mass before we receive Holy Communion: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." However, the unity nourished and expressed in Holy Communion can be broken by serious sin, hence our self-examination enables us to acknowledge whether we have committed such a sin, and to seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation before eating the bread and drinking the cup.

The practice of the Church is to accept this conscientious self-appraisal of each person (Canon 912). Thus, in this matter the state of the person’s awareness of his or her situation is of fundamental importance. As the bishops say most forcefully in the 2006 document, we should be cautious when making judgments about whether or not someone else should receive Holy Communion."

Nevertheless, the bishops go on to say: "If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain." Why is this repudiation of Church teaching such a serious matter? The bishops respond: "To give selective assent to the teachings of the Church deprives us of her life-giving message, but also seriously endangers our communion with her."

This teaching of the bishops does not violate the separation of church and state. That separation does not require a division between faith and public action, between moral principles and political choices. Believers and religious groups may practice their faith and act on their values in public life, and have done so throughout the history of this country. In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong.

What of Catholics who find themselves questioning the teachings of the Church, or experiencing uncertainties and questions about them? The bishops answer, "Some Catholics may not fully understand the Church’s doctrinal and moral teachings on certain issues. They may have certain questions and even uncertainties. In situations of honest doubt and confusion, they are welcome to partake of Holy Communion, as long as they are striving to understand what the Church professes and to resolve confusion and doubt."

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and my predecessor as Archbishop here in San Francisco, wrote in 2004: "No bishop is eager to forbid members of his flock from receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who invites us into communion with Himself and his Body, the Church, as grace and salvation." In that same year, the U.S. bishops acknowledged that pastoral sensitivity, and they endorsed the following approach to this question of denying Holy Communion: "Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times." From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum, but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable. Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her. Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters. It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace.

September 5, 2008

This statement by San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer is in response to recent comments on abortion, Catholic teaching on the beginning of life, and other life issues made by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was published in the Sept. 5, 2008 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. 


Bishop Robert Vasa

Modern look at abortion not same as St. Augustine's
By Bishop Robert Vasa

September 5, 2008

BEND — It is not possible this week to write about things related to the Catholic Church without making special note of the comments of a high-ranking U.S. official regarding abortion. This official, drawing from the rich tradition of the teachings of Saint Augustine, implied that he would have permitted abortion up to three months after conception. As has been well reported by others, Saint Augustine was working from the defective science of his day and he was trying to reconcile what he understood from science with the philosophical views of his day. It should be noted that Saint Augustine died in 430 AD.

In order to give a fair treatment of Augustine’s view I turn to an entry by John C. Bauerschmidt, Abortion, in Augustine Through The Ages: An Encyclopedia. He writes:

“Abortion: Augustine, in common with most other ecclesiastical writers of his period, vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion. Procreation was one of the goods of marriage; abortion figured as a means, along with drugs which cause sterility, of frustrating this good. It lay along a continuum which included infanticide as an instance of ‘lustful cruelty’ or ‘cruel lust.’ Augustine called the use of means to avoid the birth of a child an ‘evil work:’ a reference to either abortion or contraception or both.”

According to a spokesperson, the public official’s “views on when life begins were informed by the views of Saint Augustine, who said: ‘the law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.’” (Saint Augustine, On Exodus 21.22) Clearly Augustine believed, according to the science of his day, that the “body” of a pre-born child “lacked sensation” and from this he concluded that the child likewise lacked a human soul. Since the creature in the womb of its mother seemed to lack both sensation and soul, at least until the 40th day after conception, he had questions about the full humanity of the child. If Augustine had access to ultrasound images or if he had seen the film, “Silent Scream,” he would have had no doubt about whether the child “lacked sensation.”

...

Click title for the complete column (broken link).


Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix and Apostolic
Administrator of Gallup
and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson

Press Release: http://www.diocesephoenix.org/acc/documents/VoteYesForMarriagePRESSRELEASErevised.pdf (broken link)

CONTACT: Ron Johnson
602-885-0113
ARIZONA BISHOPS ENCOURAGE YES VOTE
IN SUPPORT OF PROPOSITION 102, THE MARRIAGE AMENDMENT
PHOENIX (September 4, 2008)

The Bishops of the Catholic Conference of Arizona, in a pastoral statement released today, are encouraging voters to vote yes this November 4 on Proposition 102, which would amend the Arizona Constitution by providing a legal definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix and Apostolic Administrator of Gallup, and the Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, support Proposition 102 and are asking the support of Catholics in their respective dioceses. The proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution that is promoted in Proposition 102 simply states, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.”

“Our support is based upon our Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage as a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love,” the bishops say in their statement. “We believe Proposition 102 is in alignment with our deeply held moral beliefs regarding marriage.”

The full text of the pastoral statement from the Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops is available at
http://www.diocesephoenix.org/acc/documents/VoteformarriageProp102PDFfromCathSunEnglishSept2008.pdf (broken link)


Bishop R. Walker Nickless

Understanding the issues and what’s at stake
September 4, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

If any of us thought that we could avoid political chatter this fall, the past two weeks of conventions and speeches have been a dose of unpleasant reality. In truth, I hope that all of us are paying at least a little attention. When leading politicians who claim to be Catholic misrepresent so badly the basic teachings of the Church, we Catholic citizens must call them on it.

No doubt, no one has missed the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a self-described “ardent, practicing Catholic,” being interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” two weeks ago (August 24). When asked what advice she would give a president on the issue of when human life begins, and despite the clarity of the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception, Ms. Pelosi attempted to formulate a theological argument that (a) life may not begin at conception (quoting St. Augustine); (b) the teaching of the Church that life does begin at conception is only “about 50 years old;” and therefore (c) this teaching “shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose [an abortion].” Clearly, this not-quite-argument is poorly reasoned and false.

As saddened as I was to hear Ms. Pelosi make such indefensible, inaccurate statements about the Church’s teachings, I was greatly encouraged by the immediate response of my brother bishops. Archbishops Chaput, Egan, Wuerl, and others have responded strongly and clearly to Ms. Pelosi, and to all who might be swayed by her confusion and evasions, reiterating the constant, unchanging, and unequivocal truth that abortion is always a grave moral evil. On August 25, Archbishop Chaput responded, completely dismantling Ms. Pelosi’s confused argument, in part simply by quoting this from the excellent book “Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective” (Loyola, 1977), by Fr. John Connery, S.J.:

“The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion.”

Cardinal Egan rebuked Ms. Pelosi even more strongly in his open letter of August 26: “Anyone who dares to defend that they [i.e. the unborn] may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.”

I agree completely with the rebuke and rebuttal of Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Chaput. As your Bishop, I am responsible to our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of all the souls of North-West Iowa. I can’t force anyone to believe the truth, nor would I use such force if I could, but my duty as Bishop requires that I, as my brother bishops have done, teach that truth by word and example as firmly and as clearly as humanly possible. These true and universal doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are the teachings of Christ.

1. Abortion is always a grave moral evil (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270-2272). The deliberate taking of innocent human life can never be justified. The same grave moral evil is likewise practiced in euthanasia (CCC 2276-79), and in the destruction of human embryos for medical research, and in human cloning (CCC 2274). In each of these issues, as well, innocent human life is unjustifiably taken.

2. Cooperation in any evil act is also a grave moral evil (CCC 1868). Directly to assist with, for example, the taking of innocent human life makes one culpable for that action. Indirectly to assist with the taking of innocent human life may or may not be culpable cooperation, depending on circumstances. One of the key circumstances is knowledge of the evil to be perpetrated (CCC 1859-1860); and in our society today, it is scarcely to be believed that anyone above the age of reason could claim “invincible ignorance” regarding the moral status of any of these issues.

3. The proper formation of conscience is an ordinary duty of all the baptized (CCC 1777-1782). The objective sources of moral knowledge, according to which conscience can be formed with certainty, are natural law, Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church (CCC 1785). Subjective sources of moral knowledge, such as reflection on one’s own experience, private revelation, and infused virtue, never contradict the objective sources, but can deepen and strengthen conviction in the truth of the objective teachings (CCC 1778-1779). This means that the “argument from anecdote” (so-and-so did such-and-such a grave moral evil, and they came to no harm…) and the “argument from personal authority” (I have such-and-such a belief or experience, and I say…) always fail to persuade. It also means that, with very few exceptions, no one has the easy excuse of ignorance of the moral law to justify their malformed conscience (CCC 1791-1793).

4. Participation in the political process is an ordinary duty of all the baptized (CCC 1913-1917). This means not only that the faithful should vote, but also, more importantly, that the faithful must take responsibility for the actions of our elected officials by (a) exercising their vote with care and right discernment in conscience and truth, and (b) insisting that elected officials use their executive or legislative power for the common good (CCC 1916-1917).

5. The end never justifies the means (CCC 1753). This means that the common good can never be achieved by practicing any moral evil as state policy (CCC 1789, 1905).

Now, it must be admitted that not every moral evil is equally grave (CCC 1852-1854). Some issues have little effect beyond themselves; some touch on a few related issues; some are foundational to the whole structure of politics and society. The issues which have been labeled as “non-negotiable Catholic issues” are the most grave, because they are at the foundation of all our rights and responsibilities. These are, namely, the “life issues” of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning; and the fundamental social issue of the family, which in this country today mostly means the definition of marriage. These issues are “non-negotiable” because, if the fundamental right to life is not secure, no rights are ultimately secure. If existence is contingent upon the will of others, so too is every other human right contingent.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, made this explicitly clear, as Cardinal Ratzinger, in the 1987 document called Donum Vitae (“The Gift of Life”):

“The inviolable right to life of every innocent human individual and the rights of the family and of the institution of marriage constitute fundamental moral values, because they concern the natural condition and integral vocation of the human person; at the same time they are constitutive elements of civil society and its order…. The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined…” http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art5.shtml - 80 (Donum Vitae, III; see also Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, Chapters 3 and 4).

In this way, the rights of prisoners and criminal suspects, of the ill and elderly, of children and families, of immigrants, all depend directly for their coherence and reasonableness on the right to life. Even opposing the three great “-isms” of modern liberal philosophy (race, gender, and class) depends on the prior recognition of human personhood and its inherent dignity as such. In the same way, the root principles defining all forms of social justice, such as solidarity and subsidiarity, are only ultimately guaranteed by defense of the right to life and of the family as the basic social unit. When families are unstable units, then all voluntary associations, up to and including states and nations, ultimately lack a coherent concept of justice to animate laws and mores. The five “non-negotiables” are fundamental because, when they are abandoned, justice itself is de facto abandoned (CCC 2273).

Our nation is divided today, because we have in fact abandoned these foundations for personal and corporate liberty in our legal system, but not in our culture, our expectations, or our vocabulary. More and more, to be “progressive” means to wish to change the culture to conform to new legal interpretations, while to be “conservative” means to wish to change the laws to conserve traditional culture. More and more, because America is a nation greatly attracted to the innovative, and not much attached to tradition or conservation, the expectation that law be the servant of culture is rejected. In other words, the tools of politics tend to favor a new, illusory ideal of the isolated, autonomous self, rather than (as they ought) to protect and defend a shared and inherited idea of the common good.

When this happens, division results. The “politics of identity” take over; the perceived “rights” of this or that group (defined by race, gender, and class) begin to seem more important than shared identity, shared humanity. In some fundamental sense, as Pope Benedict has said, the denial of a shared humanity requires a denial of some particular group’s humanity: in our day, especially of the unborn, and the terminally ill.

In the early Church, as still today, Christians were ridiculed for coming to the defense of the poorest of the poor: widows, slaves, orphans, infants exposed to die. Christians challenged the assumptions of the world that only the rich and powerful mattered, and died for it. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The full fruit of the Church’s early centuries of evangelization ultimately included the conviction that politics not only can but must aim for justice – not the worldly justice of due process and evenhanded use of force, which is too easily perverted into an idolatrous worship of order or system; but the divine justice of converted hearts and life completely free from sin. The conversion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries were sparked by the brightness of this luminous ideal. Our nation claims this Christian vision as its foundation and its heritage: to choose to accept one’s personal responsibility for the common good.

We know that for the common good to exist, the strong (such as those who wield the right to vote) are obliged to defend the weak (such as the unborn). We rejoice in the political freedoms of America, especially our freedom of religion. Because freedom in Christ is always freedom from sin, freedom to love, and never license to commit evil, we trust that our freedom of religion strengthens our democracy. When we live faithful to the fundamental truths of our faith and our democracy – that life is an inalienable right, endowed by our Creator, for a clear and specific purpose – then our laws and our culture will be strong and just, defending the weak and the poor.

I hope these words are helpful to you. As we approach the November elections we must clearly understand the issues and what is at stake. May the wisdom of the Church’s teaching help us all and may all faithful Catholics continue to speak the truth in love.

Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

Source: The Catholic Globe and The Diocese of Sioux City (broken link)


Cardinal Francis George OMI

Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago, "Since [the Church's] teaching has recently been falsely presented," issued this letter September 3, 2008:

http://www.archchicago.org/cardinal/letter/letters_2008/letter_090308.shtm

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the midst of a lengthy political campaign, matters of public policy that are also moral issues sometimes are misrepresented or are presented in a partial or manipulative fashion. While everyone could be expected to know the Church’s position on the immorality of abortion and the role of law in protecting unborn children, it seems some profess not to know it and others, even in the Church, dispute it. Since this teaching has recently been falsely presented, the following clarification may be helpful.

The Catholic Church, from its first days, condemned the aborting of unborn children as gravely sinful. Not only Scripture’s teaching about God’s protection of life in the womb (consider the prophets and the psalms and the Gospel stories about John the Baptist and Jesus himself in Mary’s womb) but also the first century catechism (the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) said: “You shall not slay the child by abortions. You shall not kill what is generated.” The teaching of the Church was clear in a Roman Empire that permitted abortion. This same teaching has been constantly reiterated in every place and time up to Vatican II, which condemned abortion as a “heinous crime.” This is true today and will be so tomorrow. Any other comments, by politicians, professors, pundits or the occasional priest, are erroneous and cannot be proposed in good faith.

This teaching has consequences for those charged with caring for the common good, those who hold public office. The unborn child, who is alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good.

This explains why the abortion issue will not disappear and why it is central to the Church’s teaching on a just social order. The Church does not endorse candidates for office, but she does teach the principles according to which Catholics should form their social consciences. The teaching, which covers intrinsic evils such as abortion and many other issues that are matters of prudential judgment, could not be clearer; the practice often falls short because we are all sinners. There is no room for self-righteousness in Catholic moral teaching.

The Conference of Bishops in this country and the Bishops of Illinois have issued statements about Catholic social teaching and political life. They are available in our parishes. All of us should keep our country and all the candidates for office in the next election in our prayers. God bless you and your families.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago


Bishop Gregory Aymond
Bishop of Austin

Bishop's Interview: Forming our conscience so that we vote with faith
Catholic Spirit, September 2008

Click the title for the interview with the editor. (broken link)


Bishop Thomas G. Wenski
Diocese of Orlando

Faithful Citizenship: Abortion - September 2008

In late August, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, appeared on Meet the Press.  In order to justify her support of abortion as a Catholic, she misrepresented the history and the nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion.  On behalf of all the bishops, Cardinal Rigali, chair of our committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Lori, chair of our committee on Doctrine, issued a statement refuting Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to justify the unjustifiable.  No one can legitimately argue that support for abortion can be reconciled with the moral teachings of the Church.  In their statement, the bishops quote succinctly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.  Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”  (CCC # 2271)

Last month, I too had to issue a clarification by means of a letter to the editor that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on August 16th concerning an article in that same newspaper on August 13th that suggested that “Catholic leaders” viewed the Democratic Party Platform’s “abortion plank” in a positive light.  In fact, many would argue that the plank this year was more extreme than the party’s previous endorsements of “reproductive rights”.

... 

Click title for the complete column (broken link)

August 2008

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley
August 29, 2008
Blog entry


Bishop Jerome E. Listecki

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2008

Contact: Christopher Ruff
Director of the Office of Ministries and Social Concerns
608-791-2667

PRESS RELEASE

RESPONSE OF THE MOST REVEREND JEROME E. LISTECKI TO REMARKS OF U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI

 My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Sunday, August 24, U. S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in an appearance on Meet the Press, misrepresented both the writings of St. Augustine and the settled doctrine of the Catholic Church in an attempt to justify uncertainty about when human life begins and thus to defend a right to abortion.

That today is the Feast of St. Augustine makes it all the more fitting for me, as Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, to exercise my obligation to correct this grave error.  And so I join a number of my brother bishops in speaking out. 

Let me be clear.  To say that there is ambiguity about when human life begins is utterly and completely false, and any Catholic (which Speaker Pelosi professes to be) who tries to interpret Church teaching in such a manner gives scandal and misleads the faithful.

The Church’s constant teaching on this matter is expressed in the Catechism: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable” (No. 2271).

New human life with distinct DNA begins at conception, and it is science, not theology, which tells us that.  Advances in ultrasound and other imaging technology, along with the wonders of prenatal surgery, have only made more visible and poignant that distinct life within the womb.  

While it does not belong to the mother, that human life does depend on her care and protection, along with the support and protection of any society that would call itself civil and humane.

It is ironic that, in an age that prides itself on scientific knowledge, there are those whose agenda drives them to invoke misinformed theology to cast doubt on some of the most basic biological truths.

In such a politicized environment of self-serving skepticism and slogans about “choice,” the Church must tirelessly proclaim the truth about the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.  This is all the more urgent when innocent human life is threatened, as it is by abortion, as well as embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia. 

To clearly proclaim and defend this truth is my duty as your Bishop, part of my task to form consciences for faithful citizenship.  It is also the duty of all the faithful, as we work together to foster a culture of life.

With gratitude for the fidelity of your witness, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse


Bishop William F. Murphy            

Faith and New Works
by Bishop Murphy
8/27/08

Abortion and other issues in an election year

This week, the same mail brought me two letters. The first was from a parishioner asking me why my brother priests and I are not speaking out about those in public life who do not defend life but are instead “pro-choice” regarding abortion on demand. The second, critical of Church leadership on a number of issues, ended by wondering that the Church would try to “influence the election” by threatening to “excommunicate Catholics” who want to vote for Mr. Obama.

All too often — and once is too often — the Church is accused of being a “single issue” faith community concerning public issues. A glance at the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church as well as the U.S. bishops’ statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, puts that lie to rest. So let’s all agree that the Church and Church leadership are not guilty of being single issue.

What the Church does teach is the truth that the first and foremost issue is that of human life. It is the central issue of human living, and it is the most important measure of a healthy society. How we treat all human life, but especially vulnerable human life whether in the womb or at the last moments of earthly life, does determine whether or not we will have the moral vision to guide the choices we make in our families and communities, in our nation and the world.

We, United States bishops, address many issues, but we insist as the teachers of the Church that the priority task of every Catholic is to form one’s conscience correctly by attending to the teaching of the Church as an integral and necessary component in a well informed conscience. The Church teaches that “human life is sacred.” Following the clear teaching of Pope John Paul II, the U.S. bishops echoed his teaching saying that “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition of all others. Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed.”

The platform of the Democratic Party for this election year was adopted at the first day of the convention in Denver. Here is how it reads on this issue: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.”

The day before, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed on Meet the Press by Mr. Tom Brokaw on this issue. She responded as a Catholic defending the unequivocally pro-abortion position of her party. As a Catholic she said she had studied the issue and then suggested that the doctors of the Church have not been able to make the definition that life begins at conception and then suggesting that it is only in the past 50 years or so that the teaching of the Church has stated that human life begins at conception. She adds, “And Senator — St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

Within 24 hours, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops through Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, with Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Doctrine Committee, issued a statement refuting Ms. Pelosi’s incorrect statements about Church teaching. They said “procured abortion” is a “grave … moral evil … the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.” Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver each added their own comments reinforcing the constant and unambiguous teaching of the Church on abortion, a teaching that is morally binding on the consciences of all Catholics. Such teaching has been constant in the Church because it corresponds to an undeniable and indisputable fact: the direct procuring of an abortion is the destruction of innocent human life. While the Church as early as the Didache of the first century has always maintained this, it is a truth that binds not just Catholics. It binds any and everyone whose conscience has been informed by right reason. Only if you can justify the direct killing of innocent human life — and how that can be done is beyond my ability to understand — can you even countenance the evil of the abortion of the innocent child in the womb.

My aim is not in any way to discredit anyone. Speaker Pelosi, however, objectively misstated the Catholic Church’s teaching and claimed as fact things that are not. I am sure she is a fine person and I know she is a woman of talent. The platform of the Democratic Party stands or falls on its own words, although it has eliminated the word “rare” as one of their goals about abortion and it continues to propagate the false idea that more contraception leads to fewer abortions. The fact is exactly the opposite, as Pope Paul VI correctly foresaw.

May I close by urging one and all to read the U.S. bishops’ statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In addition, I am happy to inform you that on Sunday, September 28, the diocese is sponsoring an afternoon on this document to be held from noon to 4 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, West Islip. Bishop Lori will be the keynote speaker. It promises to be a stimulating and informative day for all who can participate.

Source: The Long Island Catholic (broken link)


Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dennis McGrath
Director of Communications
651.291.4412
mcgrathd@archspm.org

    Archbishop Nienstedt Issues Statement Challenging Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Statement On Abortion

Saint Paul, MN, August 26, 2008 – Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, today issued a statement concurring with Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, and other U.S. bishops who are challenging House of Representatives Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nationally televised claims about abortion and the question of when human life begins. In an NBC “Meet the Press” interview broadcast Sunday, Pelosi said that church leaders “for centuries had not been able to agree on when life begins.”

Yesterday, Cardinal Rigali, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and doctrine committee criticized Pelosi, noting that since the first century the church has “affirmed the moral evil of every abortion.”

Archbishop John Nienstedt’s statement is below:

“On behalf of the 650,000 Catholics of this Archdiocese, I wish to reinforce what Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. and Archbishop Chaput of Denver have said about Speaker Pelosi’s misinterpretation on the question of when life begins. The Church has taught for centuries that life begins at conception and there is no room for misrepresentation of that teaching. In addition, modern medical techniques have been able to confirm what the Church has already known.

“Surely, there may be some Catholic politicians who will take a different interpretation of this Church doctrine during the coming election campaign, but Speaker Pelosi’s remarks underscore once again the need for Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to form their consciences according to the moral truths taught by the Catholic Church.”

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis serves a Catholic population of more than 650,000 who worship in 218 parishes throughout a 12 county area. It also encompasses two of the nation’s largest Catholic universities, a major and minor seminary for the training of priests, 14 Catholic high schools, 93 Catholic elementary schools, a combined total of 37 hospitals, elderly residences and nursing homes and Catholic Charities of the Twin Cities, which is second only to the government as the major provider of charity, housing and human services in the Twin Cities.


Bishop Samuel J. Aquila

Bishop Aquila: Nancy Pelosi's misinformed comments do not reflect the true teaching of the Catholic Church

Bishop Samuel Aquila, in an Aug. 26  letter  to priests, deacons, seminarians and others, noted that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's comments on abortion and Catholic teaching, made Aug. 24 on "Meet the Press," were "misinformed. By her statement in a public manner she has created confusion in regard to Catholic teaching."

 Those who have studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church, John Paul II's encyclical  The Gospel of Life and have read the Church Fathers, the bishop wrote, "can easily recognize the flaws in her remarks on the teaching of the Church concerning when human life begins. The right to life from conception is the pre-eminent social justice and human rights issue of our time."

He continued, "As your bishop, I have the responsibility to present to you the authentic teaching of the Church, to correct the misinformation she has given, and finally to warn you that those who oppose the true teaching are not in good standing with the Church."

Bishop Aquila noted that he fully supports a statement issued by Archbishop Charles Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley (click here to read) which clarifies the Catholic teaching on abortion and addresses Pelosi's comments.

 "The Christian teaching on abortion throughout history is unchanged," Bishop Aquila wrote. "Human life from the moment of conception is to always be respected, treated with dignity, and protected. Catholics who support so called abortion rights support a false right, promote a culture of death, and are guided by the “father of lies” rather than by the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Out of respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church, any Catholic who supports abortion rights has placed himself or herself outside of visible unity with the Church and thus should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Catholics have a responsibility to study the teaching of the Church on human life and when life begins. This teaching is affirmed by revelation and is a basic truth of natural reason. I ask all of you in your presentations, teaching, or preaching to state the truth of this teaching in an unequivocal manner."

 A Newsweek story on this topic, by George Weigel, can be found here.

Source: http://www.fargodiocese.org/index.htm (Broken Link)

Letter:
August 26, 2008

Dear Fathers, Deacons, Diocesan Staff, Catholic Charities Staff and Seminarians,

As many of you are aware the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, made comments this past Sunday on "Meet the Press." Her comments on the subject of abortion and Catholic teaching were misinformed. By her statement in a public manner she has created confusion in regard to Catholic teaching. People of good will who have studied the present day Catholic teaching as given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, John Paul II's Encyclical, The Gospel of Life, and have read the fathers of the Church, can easily recognize the flaws in her remarks on the teaching of the Church concerning when human life begins. The right to life from conception is the pre-eminent social justice and human rights issue of our time. As your bishop, I have the responsibility to present to you the authentic teaching of the Church, to correct the misinformation she has given, and finally to warn you that those who oppose the true teaching are not in good standing with the Church.

Archbishop Chaput, and his auxiliary, Bishop Conley, of Denver, issued a statement yesterday concerning the matter. I fully support their statement. Rather than crafting my own statement when an excellent one exists, I want you to read carefully the attached statement. It speaks the truth about the teaching of the Church on when human life begins.

The Christian teaching on abortion throughout history is unchanged. Human life from the moment of conception is to always be respected, treated with dignity, and protected. Catholics who support so called abortion rights support a false right, promote a culture of death, and are guided by the “father of lies” rather than by the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Out of respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church, any Catholic who supports abortion rights has placed himself or herself outside of visible unity with the Church and thus should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Catholics have a responsibility to study the teaching of the Church on human life and when life begins. This teaching is affirmed by revelation and is a basic truth of natural reason. I ask all of you in your presentations, teaching, or preaching to state the truth of this teaching in an unequivocal manner.

I pray that each one of us may continue to build a culture of life and that our nation may return to the truth that our forefathers recognized. A truth enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is that there are certain rights which are self-evident, bestowed by the Creator, and are inalienable. Those rights are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unless the right to life is guaranteed, the pursuit of liberty and happiness is severely frustrated.

May our Lord fill you with His peace.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Bishop of Fargo


Bishop Michael J Sheridan

A Statement by the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan Regarding the Evil of Procured Abortion:

Colorado Springs, CO - Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In light of recent confusing statements by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggesting that Catholic teaching allows for procured abortion in certain circumstances, it is important for all Catholics to understand the teaching of the Church regarding abortion.

From the first century the Church has taught that abortion is gravely immoral.  "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2271, quoting Didache 2.2). It is murder of the most vulnerable and innocent human beings.  Speaker Pelosi's outrageous attempt to present what she considers the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding abortion is simply wrong and should be disregarded by every faithful Catholic.

All other rights are useless if one is denied the right to live.  Our founding fathers recognized this when they enumerated life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as unalienable human rights. They also recognized that these three rights are not equal in importance.  Pursuing happiness means little if one is a slave. And freedom means nothing to someone who has been denied the right to life.

Pope John Paul II echoed these sentiments when he wrote, "The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.  These human rights...belong to human nature and are inherent in the person...from the moment of conception until death." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2273, quoting CDF, Donum vitae III).

The teachings of the Church on abortion are consistent and unambiguous, and it is very disturbing to hear someone who claims to be a Catholic distort these teachings and sow seeds of confusion among the faithful by attempting to relativize the right to life.

There can be no compromise on this issue.  "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.  The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2272).  "Those who are excommunicated... and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."  (Code of Canon Law 915).

Those Catholics who take a public stance in opposition to this most fundamental moral teaching of the Church place themselves outside full communion with the Church, and they should not present themselves for the reception of Holy Communion.

Most Reverend Michael J Sheridan
Bishop of Colorado Springs

Source: http://www.diocs.org/


Archbishop Raymond Burke

When the minister of the Eucharist is obliged to withhold communion, Interview with Raymond L. Burke, August 2008, from www.chiesa


Cardinal Edward Egan

Statement on Remarks by Speaker Pelosi

August 26, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2008

STATEMENT OF HIS EMINENCE, EDWARD CARDINAL EGAN CONCERNING REMARKS MADE BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York

Source: http://www.archny.org/news-events/news-press-releases/index.cfm?i=8803


Archbishop Donald Wuerl - August 25, 2008

Archbishop Wuerl on the Church’s Constant Teaching on Abortion

The following statement is from Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl:

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, August 23, 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made statements regarding the teaching of the Catholic Church, human life and abortion that were incorrect.

Speaker Pelosi responded to a question on when life begins by mentioning she was Catholic. She went on to say, “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition...” After Mr. Tom Brokaw, the interviewer, pointed out that the Catholic Church feels strongly that life begins at conception, she replied, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.”

We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (Catechism, 2270-2271)

The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: “’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’”

From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

Source: http://www.adw.org/news/news.asp?ID=569&Year=2008


Archbishop Charles Chaput
& Bishop James D. Conley

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
Most Rev. James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
Denver, CO - Monday, August 25, 2008
http://www.archden.org/

ON THE SEPARATION OF SENSE AND STATE: A CLARIFICATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH IN NORTHERN COLORADO

To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:

Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the "separation of Church and state." But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a "political" issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.

Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:

"I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time.

And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition.

. . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."

Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue "for a long time," she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery's Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here's how Connery concludes his study:

"The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion."

Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder."

Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or "ensouled." But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.

Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today's religious alibis for abortion and a so-called "right to choose" are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.

Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.

The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the "separation of Church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actually teaches.

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

+James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver

****In August 2008, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput published an important and timely book, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, in which he stresses that religion must never be excluded from the public square, and that citizens acting on religious morals and convictions are necessary to a maintaining a healthy democracy.

A link to a summary of the book is here: http://www.archden.org/RenderUntoCaesar/summary.htm

****Archbishop Chaput was also interviewed by Zenit on the topic of his book on August 22. A link to access interview is here: http://www.zenit.org/article-23445?l=english

For a list of Archbishop Chaput's Faith and Public Life writings go to http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/384


Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, STD
Bishop Oscar Cantu, DD

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Cantu join the bishops of the United States in response to House Speaker Pelosi’s remarks concerning abortion.

We are taking this opportunity to call the attention of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to a statement issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s misrepresentations of Church teaching on abortion. We agree whole heartedly with the statement issued by Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop William E. Lori of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. [USCCB STATEMENT Posted August 26, 2008 on WFF site]

Source: http://www.archdiosa.org/ (broken link)


Bishop David A. Zubik

Statement by Bishop David A. Zubik on “Meet the Press” comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

On Sunday, August 24, on “Meet the Press,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion. She said that Church teaching condemning procured abortion is somehow new and therefore unsettled. She could not have been more wrong.

Jesus proclaimed the sacredness of human life throughout his teaching and ministry. In a Roman world where abortion was commonplace, the Church proclaimed its intrinsic moral evil. The Didache, perhaps the earliest known Christian manual of moral teaching dating from the first century, rejected abortion. Early Church councils considered it one of the most serious crimes.

That teaching has remained constant and unaltered for two millennia.

As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith re-stated in 1974, “The first right of the human person is his life. … It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not others. … From the time the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being.”

The teaching of the Church on abortion is settled. And as old as the Gospels.

Source: http://www.diopitt.org/


Bishop Kevin F. Farrell

Bishop Farrell joins USCCB in responding to House Speaker Pelosi’s

Misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion
Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas strongly supports the statement from Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Lori and adds, “I very much respect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s right to speak to public policy. However, interpreting the teachings of the Church is not in her domain but is entrusted to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and to the bishops who are in communion with him. The Catholic Church from the beginning of time has condemned abortion as immoral and contrary to the laws of God.”

Bishop Farrell also went on to direct people to Articles 2270-2271 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states,

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. ….

More information on the Church's teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure "The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church.”

Sources: http://www.texascatholic.com/default.asp?nodeid=833

http://www.cathdal.org/default.asp?contentid=137&newsid=32

(Broken links)

June 2008

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Demands of Faithful Citizenship, June 21, 2008

May 2008

Archbishop addresses questions that earlier column raised - by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, May 23, 2008
published in The Leaven (link broken)

My May 9 column, making public my request to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius not to present herself for reception of holy Communion until she had sought to repair the public scandal of her long-standing support for legalized abortion, not surprisingly has initiated quite a bit of discussion in secular newspapers, local talk radio shows and coffee-break conversations.

I have personally received a significant number of pro and con communications. While I attempt to acknowledge every letter I receive, it is not possible for me to make an in-depth response to each one. Similarly, it is not possible for me to respond to every newspaper editorial, letter to the editor or radio caller.

In this column, I want to provide you with my responses to some of the more common questions and misunderstandings regarding my pastoral action. I hope this is helpful for your own personal understanding. However, I also hope that it makes you feel more confident and better informed so that you can explain to others who have questions and concerns.

Q. Why was the governor singled out for this pastoral discipline? Are there not others in elective office who hold similar positions?

A. Governor Sebelius holds the highest elective office in the state of Kansas, making her the most prominent Catholic in public life. It is a time-intensive process to enter into verbal and written dialogue, as is necessary, to insure a person is aware of the spiritual and moral consequences of their actions, as well as to understand the scandal their actions cause for others. It is my intention eventually, as much as the limitations of my own time permit, to have similar pastoral dialogues with other Catholics in elective office who support legalized abortion.

Q. When should a Catholic refrain from receiving holy Communion?

A. In November 2006, the bishops of the United States issued a pastoral document entitled “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper” which addressed this question as follows: “In order to receive Holy Communion we must be in communion with God and with the Church. Mortal sin constitutes a rejection of communion with God and destroys the life of grace within us. Mortal sin is an act violating God’s law that involves grave matter and that is performed with both full knowledge and complete consent of the will. If we are no longer in the state of grace because of mortal sin, we are seriously obliged to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until we are reconciled with God and the Church” (no. 4).

Q. Is it not the responsibility of the individual Catholic to judge their worthiness to receive holy Communion? Why would a bishop ask someone to refrain from presenting himself for reception of holy Communion?

A. Normally, it is the responsibility of the individual Catholic to make the judgment of whether he or she is able to receive holy Communion. It is also the responsibility of the individual Catholic to have a well-formed conscience that is informed by the teachings of the church. However, if an individual persistently acts publicly in a manner that is inconsistent with fundamental moral teachings of the church and continues to receive holy Communion, a bishop may feel obliged to intervene for the good of the individual and to protect others from being misled. “Happy Are Those Called to His Supper” addresses this issue: “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion, in such a situation, would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.” [4]

Q. Is a priest or another minister of Communion ever required to deny someone Communion?

A. Canon 915 of the church’s law states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.” In my request to Gov. Sebelius, I have made clear that it is her responsibility not to present herself for reception of holy Communion. I am hopeful that she will comply with this request.

Pastorally, it is certainly preferable not to burden ministers of the Eucharist with the responsibility to refuse Communion to someone. Ministers of Communion do have an obligation to protect the sacrament from misuse or abuse. I have, at this moment, not asked the ministers of the Eucharist not to give holy Communion to the governor.

Q. What is meant when it is said that Gov. Sebelius’ actions were scandalous?

A. To answer this question, I again refer to “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper,” which references the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “To give scandal means more than to cause other people to be shocked or upset by what one does. Rather, one’s action leads someone else to sin. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. To lead others into sin is indeed a very serious matter. Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged” (no. 4).

Governor Sebelius’ public support for legalized abortion, as a Catholic, naturally leads others to question the moral gravity of abortion. In effect, her actions and advocacy for legalized abortion, coupled with her reception of holy Communion, have said to other Catholics: “I am a good Catholic and I support legalized abortion. You can be a good Catholic and support legalized abortion.”

Q. How can the church require the governor to fail to uphold her oath of office to enforce the laws and court decisions of the state and federal government?

A. No one has asked the governor not to uphold her oath of office. However, the governor does have an obligation, as a Catholic, to express her opposition to laws and judicial decisions that fail to protect the lives of the innocent and to do all in her power to work to change the law. She has a responsibility to use her exceptional leadership abilities to extend the maximum protection possible under the current limitations imposed by the Supreme Court.

Q. The governor claims that the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act that she vetoed was unconstitutional and would jeopardize the privacy rights of women. Is it fair for the church to attempt to force her to sign bad laws by requesting she not receive Communion?

A. My initial request for the governor not to present herself for Communion was before her veto of the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act. I challenged the governor to produce a single instance in her legislative or executive career where she has supported any effort to limit abortions. In the 1980s and 1990s, as a state representative, she voted to weaken or eliminate even such modest measures as parental notification for teens, waiting periods, or informed consent protections for women before an abortion. When Gov. Sebelius was running for reelection in 2006, she was profiled on Emily’s List Web site and quoted as saying: “I have always led the fight to ensure that abortion is safe, legal and rare.” Emily’s List is a political action committee that only supports women candidates who support legalized abortion. On that same Web site it stated: “As governor she (Kathleen Sebelius) has vetoed legislation to severely limit women’s choices.” My request for the governor not to present herself for Communion, was not about any one action, but a 30-year history of advocating and acting in support of legalized abortion.

Q. Is it not wrong for the church to attempt to impose its religious beliefs on others?

A. While one can be a faithful Catholic and support a wide diversity of strategies on the vast majority of issues, it is not possible to compromise on the sanctity of human life.

For the Catholic in public life, the unequivocal defense of such a fundamental human right is not imposing one’s Catholic faith upon others. The fact that the church addresses the morality of such a basic right does not make this an exclusively religious issue. Just as supporting public policies that prohibit stealing, racism, or murder — moral issues also very clearly addressed by the church — is not an imposition of Catholic doctrine, neither is advocating for policies that protect human life in its earliest stages.

Q. Governor Sebelius says that she is personally opposed to abortion, but she supports the law protecting the right of others to choose an abortion. Why is this not a morally acceptable position?

A. Freedom of choice is not an absolute value. All of our laws limit our choices. I am not free to drive while intoxicated or to take another’s property or to assault someone else. My freedom ends when I infringe on the more basic rights of another. On a similarly grave moral issue 150 years ago, Stephen Douglas, in his famous debates with the future President Abraham Lincoln, attempted to craft his position as not favoring slavery but of the right of people in new states and territories, such as Kansas, to choose to sanction slavery. Being pro-choice on a fundamental matter of human rights was not a morally coherent argument in the 1850s, nor is it today. No one has the right to choose to enslave another human being, just as no one has the right to kill another human being. No law or public policy has the authority to give legal protection to such an injustice.

Q. Is it not wrong for the church to deny Communion to someone because they support the law of the land?

A. First of all, it is important to recall our own history. We do not have permissive abortion public policies in our country because of a vote of the people. In fact, the 1973 Supreme Court decisions struck down all state laws prohibiting and/or restricting abortion. It is the court that has imposed its doctrine on the entire nation, prohibiting the people or their elective representatives from meaningfully limiting abortion. The recent decision of the California Supreme Court striking down the state ban on same-sex marriages is yet another illustration of the arrogance of the courts. Those who suggest that the church should alter its teaching and discipline on the issue of abortion because of our current public policy, in effect, want to extend the court’s authority to alter also the doctrine of church.

Q. The law does not force anyone to have an abortion. Why not just try to convince people not to have an abortion rather than work to change the law?

A. We must do both. We should do everything possible to persuade and influence others not to have an abortion. We must support crisis pregnancy centers that assist those experiencing an untimely pregnancy. However, the law does not just permit abortion, it “teaches” abortion. Our laws do not permit us, in any other instance, to take the life of an innocent person. The fact that the law permits abortion communicates, especially to the young, that abortion does not really destroy another human life. The number of abortions dramatically increased after the court struck down the state laws restricting abortions. One of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to protect the innocent and the vulnerable.

Q. Are not the actions of the church requesting Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion not to receive Communion really an attack on Democrats?

A. No. Cardinal Edward Egan of New York has made a similar request of former Republican presidential candidate and former mayor Rudy Giuliani. I encourage Catholics who are Democrats to remain Democrats, but to change the extremist position of the party on abortion. If the majority of Catholic Democrats objected to the platform of the party supporting legalized abortion, it would change tomorrow. In the end, to create an enduring public policy that will protect the right to life of innocent unborn children, we need to build a consensus that includes both Democrats and Republicans.

Q. Why does the church allow for legitimate disagreement among Catholics on other public issues, but not abortion?

A. The bishops of Kansas addressed this issue in our August 2006 statement, “Moral Principles for Catholic Voters,” in which we said:

“A correct conscience recognizes that there are some choices that always involve doing evil and which can never be done even as a means to a good end. These choices include elective abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem-cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage. Such acts are judged to be intrinsically evil, that is, evil in and of themselves, regardless of our motives or the circumstances. They constitute an attack against innocent human life, as well as marriage and family. Pope John Paul II warned that concern for the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination (“Christifidelis Laici,” no. 38).

“Other examples of choices that always involve doing evil would be racial discrimination and the production and use of pornography. These actions offend the fundamental dignity of the human person.

“Concerning choices that are intrinsically evil, Catholics may not promote or even remain indifferent to them.”

Q. Are there other issues in American history when the church has taken similar pastoral actions?

A. Yes. In St. Louis, for example, in 1946, then-Archbishop Joseph Ritter ordered the desegregation of the Catholic schools. A group of laity attempted to organize in order to oppose his decision. Archbishop Ritter threatened excommunication, which resulted in this opposition group disbanding. The archbishop of New Orleans actually did excommunicate some Catholics for their opposition to racial integration.

Q. Does the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church discredit it from being able to address moral social issues like abortion?

A. In logic, this type of argument is termed “ad hominem.” It is an attempt to attack personally one’s opponent in a debate, rather than make substantive arguments about the issue being debated. It is usually an indication of a weak position by the person making the “ad hominem” argument. What is needed is a substantive discussion of this important social and moral issue, not personal attacks!


Thoughts on "Roman Catholics for Obama" by Archbishop Charles Chaput, May 19,2008
Click title for the pdf statement.

For a list of Archbishop Chaput's Faith and Public Life writings go to http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/384


Governor's Veto Prompts Pastoral Action -- Archbishop Joseph Naumann, May 9, 2008
published in The Leaven

On the day of my return (Monday, April 21) from the exhilarating experience of participating in Pope Benedict’s pastoral visit to the United States, I learned that Governor Kathleen Sebelius had vetoed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act (HS SB 389), which had been passed by significant majorities in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. Last week, an attempt to override the governor’s veto failed in the Senate by two votes.

Governor Sebelius in her veto message claimed: “For years, the people of Kansas have asked their elected officials to move beyond legislative debates on issues like abortion.”  From her veto message, I received the impression the governor considered it a waste of the Legislature’s time to pass a statute that attempts to protect some women by making certain they have the opportunity to be well-informed: 1) about the development of their unborn child; and 2) about abortion alternatives available to them. Evidently, the governor does not approve of legislators devoting energy to protecting children and women by making it possible to enforce existing Kansas laws regulating late-term abortions.

The governor’s veto message demonstrated a lack of respect to the members of the Kansas General Assembly who had carefully crafted and resoundingly passed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, as well as to the many Kansans who find it more than an embarrassment, in no small part due to several previous vetoes by Governor Sebelius of earlier legislative efforts to regulate abortion clinics, that Kansas has become infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest.

What makes the governor’s rhetoric and actions even more troubling has been her acceptance of campaign contributions from Wichita’s Dr. George Tiller, perhaps the most notorious late-term abortionist in the nation. In addition to Dr. Tiller’s direct donations to her campaign, the governor has benefited from the Political Action Committees funded by Dr. Tiller to support pro-abortion candidates in Kansas.

In her veto message, the governor took credit for lower abortion rates in Kansas, citing her support for “adoption incentives, extended health services for pregnant women, providing sex education and offering a variety of support services for families.” Indeed, the governor and her administration should be commended for supporting adoption incentives and health services for pregnant women.

However, the governor overreaches by assuming credit for declining abortion rates in Kansas. Actually, lower abortion rates are part of a national trend. Our neighboring state of Missouri has actually had a steeper and longer decline in its abortion rate.

Governor Sebelius’ inclusion of public school sex education programs as a factor in the abortion rate decline is absurd. Actually, valueless sex education programs in public schools have been around for years, coinciding with increased sexual activity among adolescents, as well as increases in teen pregnancy and abortion. On the other hand, the governor does not acknowledge the significant impact of mass media education programs, such as those sponsored by the Vitae Caring Foundation, or the remarkable practical assistance provided by Crisis Pregnancy Centers which are funded through the generosity of pro-life Kansans.

What makes the governor’s actions and advocacy for legalized abortion, throughout her public career, even more painful for me is that she is Catholic. Sadly, Governor Sebelius is not unique in being a Catholic politician supporting legalized abortion.

Since becoming archbishop, I have met with Governor Sebelius several times over many months to discuss with her the grave spiritual and moral consequences of her public actions by which she has cooperated in the procurement of abortions performed in Kansas. My concern has been, as a pastor, both for the spiritual well-being of the governor but also for those who have been misled (scandalized) by her very public support for legalized abortion.

It has been my hope that through this dialogue the governor would come to understand her obligation: 1) to take the difficult political step, but necessary moral step, of repudiating her past actions in support of legalized abortion; and 2) in the future would use her exceptional leadership abilities to develop public policies extending the maximum legal protection possible to the unborn children of Kansas.

Having made every effort to inform and to persuade Governor Sebelius and after consultation with Bishop Ron Gilmore (Dodge City), Bishop Paul Coakley (Salina) and Bishop Michael Jackels (Wichita), I wrote the governor last August requesting that she refrain from presenting herself for reception of the Eucharist until she had acknowledged the error of her past positions, made a worthy sacramental confession and taken the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.

Recently, it came to my attention that the governor had received holy Communion at one of our parishes. I have written to her again, asking her to respect my previous request and not require from me any additional pastoral actions.

The governor has spoken to me on more than one occasion about her obligation to uphold state and federal laws and court decisions. I have asked her to show a similar sense of obligation to honor divine law and the laws, teaching and legitimate authority within the church.

I have not made lightly this request of Governor Sebelius, but only after much prayer and reflection. The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: “The church’s teaching on abortion is optional!”

I reissue my request of the faithful of the archdiocese to pray for Governor Sebelius. I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions. At the same time, I pray this pastoral action on my part will help alert other Catholics to the moral gravity of participating in and/or cooperating with the performance of abortions.

April 2008

Reflections Again on Faith and Public Life
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST

By Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl
April 30, 2008

Click title for Archbishop Wuerl's column


Statement of Cardinal Egan

April 28, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 28, 2008

The following is a statement issued by Edward Cardinal Egan:

“ The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God. Throughout my years as Archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses, and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind. Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became Archbishop of New York and he was serving as Mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion. I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the Papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.”

http://www.ny-archdiocese.org/news-events/news-press-releases/index.cfm?i=7945

January 2008

Reverence for Life Conscience and Faithful Citizenship Statement, January 22, 2008, Catholic Conference of Kentucky

Excerpt: "What we profess in defense of the sacredness of unborn human life harmonizes with our historic legal tradition founded on the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Abortion on demand does not.

We claim the historical freedom enjoyed by churches to exercies the freedom of expression to teach social doctrine."

Click on title to read the complete statement. (broken link)


Archbishop Charles Chaput, January 16, 2008

10 points for Catholic citizens to remember

Personal witness is always the best proof of what we claim to believe. And this year, like every other year, with or without an election, we need to apply the idea of Catholic witness in a special way to our public life as citizens. We might find it useful to remember 10 simple points as we move toward November.

1. George Orwell said that one of the biggest dangers for modern democratic life is dishonest political language. Dishonest language leads to dishonest politics — which then leads to bad public policy and bad law. So we need to speak and act in a spirit of truth.

2. “Catholic” is a word that has real meaning. We don’t control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the Gospel and the experience of the Church over the centuries. We can choose to be something else, but if we choose to call ourselves Catholic, than that word has consequences for what we believe and how we act. We can’t truthfully claim to be Catholic and then act like we’re not.

3. Being a Catholic is a bit like being married. We have a relationship with the Church and with Jesus Christ that’s very similar to being a spouse. And that has consequences. If a man says he loves his wife, his wife will want to see the evidence in his love and fidelity. The same applies to our relationship with God. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to show that by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves, because God certainly won’t be fooled.

4. The Church is not a political organism. She has no interest in partisanship because getting power or running governments is not what she’s about, and the more closely she identifies herself with any single party, the fewer people she can effectively reach.

5. However, Scripture and Catholic teaching do have public consequences because they guide us in how we should act in relation to one another. Loving God requires that we also love the people He created, which means we need to treat them with justice, charity and mercy. Being a Catholic involves solidarity with other people. The Catholic faith has social justice implications — and that means it also has cultural, economic and political implications. The Catholic faith is never primarily about politics; but Catholic social action — including political action — is a natural byproduct of the Church’s moral message. We can’t call ourselves Catholic, and then simply stand by while immigrants get mistreated, or the poor get robbed, or unborn children get killed. The Catholic faith is always personal, but never private. If our faith is real, then it will bear fruit in our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices.

6. Each of us needs to follow his or her own properly formed conscience. But conscience doesn’t emerge from a vacuum. It’s not a matter of personal opinion or preference. If our conscience has the habit of telling us what we want to hear on difficult issues, then it’s probably badly formed. A healthy conscience is the voice of God’s truth in our hearts, and it should usually make us uncomfortable, because none of us is yet a saint. The way we get a healthy conscience is by submitting it and shaping it to the will of God; and the way we find God’s will is by opening our hearts to the counsel and guidance of the Church that Jesus left us. If we find ourselves disagreeing as Catholics with the Catholic teaching of our Church on a serious matter, it’s probably not the Church that’s wrong. The problem is much more likely with us.

7. But how do we make good political choices when so many different issues are so important and complex? The first principle of Christian social thought is: Don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing somebody else to do it. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. The reason the abortion issue is so foundational is not because Catholics love little babies — although we certainly do — but because revoking the personhood of unborn children makes every other definition of personhood and human rights politically contingent.

8. So can a Catholic in good conscience support a “pro-choice” candidate? The answer is: I can’t and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics — people whom I admire — who will. I think their reasoning is mistaken. But at the very least they do sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And even more importantly: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up their efforts to end permissive abortion; they keep lobbying their party and their elected representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can support “pro-choice” candidates if they support them despite — not because of — their “pro-choice” views. But they also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.

9. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

10. Lastly, the heart of truly “faithful” citizenship is this: We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation.

Archbishop Chaput’s forthcoming book on American Catholics and public life, “Render Unto Caesar,” will be published by Doubleday later this year.

For a list of Archbishop Chaput's Faith and Public Life writings go to http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/384

? - 2008

Bishop William E. Lori

Conscience and the Catholic Voter, by Most Reverend William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport and Chair of the USCCB Committee of Doctrine -- 2008

* * *

Vatican Statements & Canon Law - Documents - Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum

US Bishops' Conference Statements

Diocesan Bishops' Statements

Selected articles, commentary


Women for Faith & Family operates solely on your generous donations. See Join Page or for credit card donations see Network for Good instructions page.

WFF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Click donation button below to donate with PayPal.

Voices copyright © 1999-Present Women for Faith & Family. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION GUIDELINES

All material on this web site is copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without prior written permission from Women for Faith & Family,except as specified below.

Personal use
Permission is granted to download and/or print out articles for personal use only.

Quotations
Brief quotations (ca 500 words) may be made from the material on this site, in accordance with the “fair use” provisions of copyright law, without prior permission. For these quotations proper attribution must be made of author and WFF + URL (i.e., “Women for Faith & Family – www.wf-f.org.)

Attribution
Generally, all signed articles or graphics must also have the permission of the author. If a text does not have an author byline, Women for Faith & Family should be listed as the author. For example: Women for Faith & Family (St Louis: Women for Faith & Family, 2005 + URL)

Link to Women for Faith & Family web site.
Other web sites are welcome to establish links to www.wf-f.org or to individual pages within our site.


Back to top -- Home -- Back to Catholics & Political Responsibility
Women for Faith & Family
PO Box 300411
St. Louis, MO 63130
Ph: 314-863-8385 - Fax: 314-863-5858 Fax - Email