Wednesday, September 17, 2008
ABORTION AND POLITICS
The Bishops are beginning to present a united front opposing abortion, and they are getting the attention of the Democratic Party:
When Barack Obama announced that he had chosen Joe Biden as his running mate, Catholic Democrats knew some kind of religious rumble was inevitable.
They had spent the 2004 campaign watching John Kerry pummeled by charges that he was not a good Catholic and by warnings that he could be denied communion because of his support for abortion rights. Already this year they had seen pro-choice Catholic Kathleen Sebelius knocked out of vice presidential contention after her archbishop imposed a "pastoral action" on her, demanding she no longer receive the Eucharist.
Sure enough, the day after Biden's selection the archbishop of Denver declared that the Catholic senator should "refrain from presenting himself for communion." Archbishop Charles Chaput was one of the handful of Catholic leaders who had targeted Kerry in 2004, but he had become a marginalized in the bishops conference — losing key leadership elections — in part because of his extreme views about denying communion to politicians. His warning to Biden stood alone. Even the conservative Catholic League's Bill Donahue, who rarely hesitates to fire off press releases condemning Catholic Democrats, was unusually silent about Biden.
Then the Bishops stepped in. On Wednesday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publically called out Biden for comments he made about abortion on NBCs Meet the Press. Even Kerry, whose support for abortion rights is much stronger than Biden's and who was running at the top of the ticket, never generated attention from more than a handful of the most extreme bishops. The involvement of the bishops conference is a clear signal that the communion wars are not over. And it has Catholics Democrats worriedly asking themselves: Can one of their own ever again win national office?
Bishops standing together are a whole different voice from bishops standing alone!