Colorado Catholic Lawyers Group Fights With Church Over Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Colorado Catholic Lawyers Group Fights With Church Over Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 21, 2004

Denver, CO ( — A Colorado group of Catholic attorneys have decided not to allow the state’s leading Catholic official to have the final say about an annual award it gives after the Church criticized it for honoring an abortion advocate last year.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Colorado came under fire from the Catholic Church after it gave its 2003 award to state Attorney General Ken Salazar, a pro-abortion Democrat who Colorado voters elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

Laura Tighe, the group’s incoming president, said its board of directors voted to not give Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput veto power over award recipients. The group decided to allow Chaput’s input, but voted to make the final decision.

"Our group felt we wanted independence," Tighe told the Denver Post newspaper.

Now, the Denver diocese is distancing itself from the organization.

The archdiocese has decided to withdraw Auxiliary Bishop Jose Gomez from saying Mass at the group’s annual dinner next month.

It told the lawyers association that it could not use any facilities at the archdiocese to hold its event. The group had been using the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization prior to the decision.

Sergio Gutierrez, a spokesman for the Denver diocesan office, said the decision to disaffiliate with the group was appropriate.

At their meeting in June, the nation’s Catholic bishops approved a document calling on Catholic institutions to make sure they do not allow their facilities to be used to promote abortion or abortion advocates.

"It’s reasonable to expect a Catholic organization to be consistent with Catholic teaching," Gutierrez said.

"We are obviously very distinctively Catholic, but there’s a great difference on how we exercise our Catholicism," Tighe told the Post in response. "We understand the ramifications of our decision, and we will go on."

This isn’t the first time Chaput has tangled with a "Catholic" group that supports abortion.

During the presidential elections, Catholics for a Free Choice filed a complaint against Archbishop Chaput. The group claimed Chaput "has repeatedly urged voters to reject candidates opposed to the organization’s views."

The complaint alleges Chaput has put the 501(c)3 nonprofit tax status of the diocese at risk by "explicitly urging Catholics to vote against candidates who support abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research."

CFFC cited columns by Chaput in the Denver Catholic Register, as well as speeches, interviews and an opinion piece Chaput wrote in the New York Times.