November 2018 will mark the beginning of Catholic Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s new leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee. November also will determine the political fate of those whom Naumann has labeled “cafeteria Catholics.”
For example, former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who is running for re-election in the U.S. Senate, embraces pro-abortion policies despite calling himself a Catholic. Naumann has not been afraid to keep members of his church accountable, even if those members are political leaders.
“In the Oct. 4 vice presidential debate, Senator Kaine acknowledged he was blessed with great Irish Catholic parents and grew up in a wonderful faith-filled family. … I wish that was the end of the story,” Naumann posted on his Catholic archdiocese’s website during the 2016 election.
He concluded his post by saying, “Unfortunately, the vice-presidential debate revealed that the Catholic running for the second highest office in our land is an orthodox member of his party, fulling embracing his party’s platform, but a cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient.”
Naumann’s passion for life shines when he boldly confronts leaders for not adhering to their decreed faith. He began in 1984, when another Catholic vice presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro, also vocally supported abortion, Catholic Citizens reports.
“It really saddened me, after her selection for this high office, that immediately she started to basically contradict the clear teaching of the Church in terms of abortion,” Naumann stated at the time. “That did motivate me at that point. I partially credit Geraldine Ferraro as providing negative inspiration for me!”
Later in 2008, Naumann responded to former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ support of abortion by demanding that she cease taking communion.
He also severed his diocese’s ties with the Girl Scouts because of the club’s connection with Planned Parenthood, and instead endorsed American Heritage Girl clubs, which are more conservative.
National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias remarked, “I would not be surprised to see [the archbishop] holding various people accountable — and not just politicians and legislators.”
Indeed, despite his confrontation of political leaders and organizations, he displays a fatherly compassion for families who have been affected by abortion. Naumann said his mother’s experience of raising him and his brother on her own motivates the compassion he shows to others in that situation.
He said, “[M]y personal background gave me a greater sensitivity to women facing a pregnancy under traumatic circumstances.”
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The archbishop endeavors to minister to women who may have had an abortion in his congregation, pointing them to programs like Project Rachel that tend to the emotional needs of women in this situation.
“So whatever we can do for women who are having an untimely pregnancy — how can we, as Church, surround them with love? I think my own experience gives me a lot of motivation in that area,” he stated.
Naumann also invests in the next generation, leading bus loads of young people to the March for Life every year, and spending time with college students through various programs.
His fierce yet compassionate commitment to life granted him the position of chair of the U.S. Bishops’ pro-life committee, a position that has traditionally been held by cardinals.