Top Catholic Official: Political Parties Shouldn’t Have Pro-Abortion Litmus Test

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Top Catholic Official: Political Parties Shouldn’t Have Pro-Abortion Litmus Test Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 14,

Nashville, TN ( — At the national conference of the Knights of Columbus last week, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone held a news conference with reporters covering the 125th anniversary of the Catholic group. During the news conference he said political parties shouldn’t apply a pro-abortion litmus test.

Cardinal Bertone’s visit to the convention was the first time he had come to the United States as Secretary of State for the Holy See.

As the highest ranking Vatican official after the pope, Cardinal Bertone has responsibility for overseeing many of the Vatican’s internal and external affairs. He has served in that position since Pope Benedict XVI appointed him last year.

According to a transcript provided to, the Vatican official addressed the issue of Catholic politicians who support abortion.

He said the Catholic Church has already issued all the documents necessary to show that Catholics who support abortion should refrain from taking communion.

"I don’t think that it is necessary to repeat new norms because the norms are well explained in the doctrine of the Church, and those norms which deal with the proper stance of individuals who want to receive Communion," he said.

Cardinal Bertone also addressed the role of political parties in the United States and said they should not discriminate against Catholics who take a pro-life position.

He appeared to be speaking about the Democratic Party, though he didn’t say so specifically.

"I don’t understand how a person in public office or one engaged in political activity can be obliged to renounce his Catholic identity because the party, be it in the U.S. or in other countries, imposes an ethical choice on the basis of the party’s program," he told the news conference.

"This, according to me, does not respect freedom of conscience. It even seems to me to be an oppression of conscience. Where is the freedom of conscience that is so proclaimed and defended in America?" the Catholic leader added.

In 2004 there was considerable debate about those politicians who support abortion and whether they should be denied Communion.

Some Catholic leaders said they would not give communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry because he supported abortion and embryonic stem cell research.