Catholic Bishops Discuss Holding Pro-Abortion Politicians Accountable

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 12, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Discuss Holding Pro-Abortion Politicians Accountable

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 12, 2003

Washington, DC ( — It’s a problem that has long plagued the Catholic Church. How can church officials hold Catholic politicians accountable for their votes in favor of abortion on demand?

Earlier this week the nation’s Catholic bishops, at their annual meeting, approved a panel that would formulate guidelines for the church.

Some suggested sanctions that are meant as a form of punishment for pro-abortion elected officials. The sanctions range from denying honorary degrees at Catholic universities to refusing to allow them to speak at Catholic institutions, or even excommunicating them.

"I am tired of hearing Catholic politicians say, ‘I am personally opposed to whatever, but I can’t impose my moral judgment on others,’ " said Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Dallas. "That’s nonsense. They do it on other issues…That’s a weaseling out."

The bishops said that a January document released by Pope John Paul II outlining the responsibilities of Catholic politicians prompted them to seriously consider the problem.

"Some Catholic politicians defy church teaching in their policy advocacy and legislative votes, first and most fundamentally on the defense of unborn life," explained Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida.

According to the Boston Globe, Ricard accused some lawmakers of choosing "their party over their faith, their ideology over Catholic teaching, the demands of their contributors over the search for the common good."

More than 400 elected officials across the country who are Catholic and pro-abortion have been identified.

The bishops approved a commission to review the issue and asked Galante and several of his colleagues to develop guidelines for the church to follow. No date has been set for them to be completed.

Galante said some dioceses already ban elected officials from church property when they have endorsed abortion verbally or with their voting record.

The bishops did not mention specific politicians they would target with sanctions, though presidential candidate John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, is one who comes to the minds of many.

Kerry has said: "As a Catholic, I have enormous respect for the words and teachings of the Vatican, but as a public servant I’ve never forgotten the lasting legacy of President Kennedy, who made clear that in accordance with the separation of church and state, no elected official should be ‘limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual, or obligation.’ "

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, also running for president, is another politician who has draw the ire of Catholics, since he flip-flopped by changing from pro-life to supporting abortion.

The concerns haven’t only been with Democratic politicians.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, current Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, took a pro-abortion position and was told by the Bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania that he would not allowed to speak at church events.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said churchgoing Catholics have put significant pressure on the bishops over the years that is finally paying off.

There are finally "enough bishops themselves who are up in arms over this thing. It’s become a running joke within the Catholic community," Donohue told CNS News.

"It’s a constant source of scandal that the most prominent pro-abortion people are Catholics . . . who seem to go unreproved," concluded Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.