Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia laid out his views on the upcoming presidential election in stark terms in a new interview, making it clear that he can’t support President Barack Obama because of his pro-abortion views and record.
“I can only speak in terms of my own personal views. I certainly can’t vote for somebody who’s either pro-choice or pro-abortion,” he said.
In the interview with the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic leader reiterated Church teachings about how “prudential judgments” compare with abortion in terms of what should take the higher consideration when Catholics head to the polls to vote.
“Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell,” Archbishop Chaput explained. “But Jesus didn’t say the government has to take care of them, or that we have to pay taxes to take care of them. Those are prudential judgments.”
“You can’t say that somebody’s not Christian because they want to limit taxation,” he continued. “To say that it’s somehow intrinsically evil like abortion doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Chaput responded to the concerns that the Democratic Party continues to advance abortion and had a tough time getting mention of God back in its platform.
“As an individual and voter I have deep personal concerns about any party that supports changing the definition of marriage, supports abortion in all circumstances, wants to restrict the traditional understanding of religious freedom. Those kinds of issues cause me a great deal of uneasiness,” he said.
The head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also talked at length about religious freedom issues — prominent on the minds of both Catholic and evangelical voters who are concerned about the Obama HHS mandate and how it forces religious employers to pay for and refer women for drugs that can cause abortions. He talked about the success of the Fortnight of Freedom campaign the Catholic bishops put on to raise awareness of the concerns with the OBama mandate.
It was a success in the sense that it brought this issue to greater awareness in the lives of many Catholics. In terms of really changing either the church or the national situation concretely, we have to yet to see its effects. The history of the world demonstrates that if we aren’t always on guard about religious freedom, we’ll lose it. It happens everywhere, and it could happen in the United States.
Church officials in Europe, bishops and cardinals, have told me that they’re astonished there is an actual threat to religious freedom in the United States. They’ve always seen us as embodying religious freedom more clearly than any other government or country in the history of the world. It’s also surprising to me. I would never have thought, even ten years ago, that we would be dealing with it so quickly. What opened my eyes was my service to the United States as a member of the Commission on International Religious Freedom. I saw things in Western Europe that disturbed me in terms of limitations on religious freedom, mostly for non-Christian groups such as the Muslims. I thought that if Western Europe could do this, it could happen in the United States too.
I can’t imagine that the courts won’t stop it. I think that when it comes time for the courts to weigh in on it, whether it’s the Supreme Court or wherever it ends up, we’ll win. If we don’t win, I’ll be astonished, and I’ll be even more worried about the future of religious freedom in our country. At the same time, I think there’s a huge number of people in our country who are very worried about the encroachment on religious freedom indicated by those mandates. I also think that people who don’t agree with us on abortion and marriage would still be sympathetic to us on religious freedom.
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Those who oppose us on the mandates are very insistent. I thought they would back down by now, but they haven’t. We have to fight as vigorously in opposing them as they are in imposing them. Who’s going to win? I don’t know. It will be whoever fights the hardest and wins the hearts and minds of the people.
Finally, Chaput talked about how Cardinal Dolan admonished Democrats on the issue of abortion, and he said he would have had to have done the same thing if he had given the closing prayer at the Democratic convention.
“I was safe from making that decision because they didn’t invite me. It would have been very hard for me to have done it without saying things about abortion,” he said.