Archbp. Naumann: most important issue to Catholics is abortion

A friend alerted me to this from the site of Kansas Liberty:

My emphases and comments:

Archbishop defends church’s ‘rights and responsibility’ to teach morals
Naumann says most important issue to Catholics is abortion

Last week the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kansas City, Kan., declared abortion should be the most important issue for Catholics to consider when deciding on who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. This week, observers are still discussing the impact of the comment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, said other problems facing the United States today, including the war in Iraq, should be considered less important than the right to life.

“The church in the United States always cherished its rights and its responsibility to form the moral (conscience) of the country,” he said during his visit at University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics.

Naumann did not endorse a specific candidate however.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is an abortion supporter.  During an April 2008 forum he told the audience, “Those of us, like myself, who believe that in this difficult situation it is a woman’s responsibility and choice to make in consultation with her doctor and her pastor and her family. I think we will continue to suggest that that’s the right legal framework to deal with the issue. But at least we can start focusing on how to move in a better direction than the one we’ve been in the past.”  [When was it that Sen. Obama described a baby as a "punishment"?]

Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, a Catholic, also supports abortion, as does Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, another Catholic Obama supporter and a target for criticism by Naumann who has asked her to avoid taking communion.

    In contrast, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin oppose abortion. Both are Protestant.

During a portion of questioning on abortion during the 2006 Alaska governor debate, Palin was asked how she would feel about abortion if her own daughter was the victim of rape and became pregnant.

    Palin replied, “I would choose life,” and said she would only support abortion if the mother’s life were in danger.  [Not a perfect position, but better than the alternative.]

According to the Faith and American Politics Survey, which was sponsored by Faith in Public Life and conducted by the Public Religion Research, both Catholic participants and the general public listed the economy as the most important issue to consider in the 2008 presidential election. The general public ranked abortion ninth in the top-10 list of most-important issues to consider for the 2008 election, trailed only by same-sex marriage. [Wow.]

    “The economy is just dominating almost every aspect of the election,” Dan Cox, the director of research and co-founder of Public Religion Research, told Kansas Liberty. “Interestingly enough Catholics look very similar to the general voting population on a bunch of items.”

Cox said Obama is also doing better with pro-life supporters than McCain is doing with the abortion supporters.

Thirty percent of participants who said that abortion should be illegal in all cases said they are going to vote for Obama and out of those who said they think abortion should be legal in all cases, 25 percent say that they are voting for McCain,” he said.

According to the poll, Catholics 35 years of age and older are generally divided between McCain and Obama, while younger Catholics support Obama over McCain by 15 percent.

    Younger Catholics also differ with older group of Catholics on the issue of abortion with approximately 60 percent of the younger Catholics believing abortion should be legal in all or most cases, only half of the older group agrees. However seven out of 10 Catholics said they would vote for a candidate who disagrees with them on abortion.

The survey took a national sample of 2,000 adults and was conducted between August and September of 2008. Fred Solis, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, said the church does encourage its members to vote, but that it refrains from suggesting one candidate over another.

    “Certainly one of the foremost thoughts and beliefs that we Catholics hold is the dignity and respect for life as that is central and fundamental to our beliefs,” Solis told Kansas Liberty. “We as a church try to form a consciousness and share with the people of church what our thoughts and beliefs are and basically let them take those things into consideration when they go to the polls.”

Solis said the Catholic church’s stance on the importance of life isn’t something that is only vocalized during the election season.

“This is a position that has been constant for practically as long as the church has been in place and is not something we start to share or try to elevate our beliefs on every four years or whenever there is an election,” he said.

Paul Johnson, political science professor at the University of Kansas, said he felt abortion was less of an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign than it was in the 2004 or 2000 elections.

    “There is an even split in the public’s opinion on the issue so neither side can gain advantage by making a big deal out of it,” Johnson told Kansas Liberty. “So they are getting advantages by emphasizing other issues.”

In a 2001 US census, 50,873,000 respondents identified themselves as Catholics, which was a slight increase from the 1990 poll.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Vincenzo says:

    Happy Birthday Father Z!

  2. kal says:

    Look here to see the comment on a baby as punishment.

  3. Janet says:

    Seems like the biggest obstacle to average Catholics understanding that the issue of abortion trumps all others, is the US Conference of Bishops. Their “Faithful Citizenship” statement from Nov.2007 has a loophole big enough to drive a truck through! I don’t have it in front of me so I can’t quote it, but there’s a passage that says that a Catholic may vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as he’s not voting for him specifically BECAUSE he is pro-abortion.

    Our weekly diocesan paper last week had a letter on voting from our Bishop, Robert Baker, and among the passages he quoted from “Faithful Citizenship” was that one. So much for my hopes that my bishop would be one of the few to stand against the USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship” confusion, and would state clearly that the right to life itself outweighs all other considerations. I feel rather frustrated and discouraged over this, obviously.

  4. Janet: Seems like the biggest obstacle to average Catholics understanding that the issue of abortion trumps all others, is the US Conference of Bishops.

    Sadly so, and from the beginning. Think how many millions of babies would have been saved if, instead of promoting the pernicious “seamless garment” approach that equates all life issues, our bishops had spoken with a vox clara from the beginning. Does anyone think that — if U.S. Catholics had voted in accord with Catholic belief since Roe v. Wade — we’d still be talking about abortion as an issue today?

  5. Bryan says:

    Don’t be discouraged, Janet…your diocese is not the only one who whimped out and grabbed the USCCB document as a standard by which to form your political decision…basically a missive from the ordinary of Metuchen NJ did the same thing.

    Oh, to have more MEN like Abp. Chaput and Bishop Martino of Scranton as shepherds.

  6. Trad Tom says:

    Happy Birthday, Father Z !! Ad multos annos !!

  7. Kradcliffe says:

    *” Palin replied, “I would choose life,” and said she would only support abortion if the mother’s life were in danger. [Not a perfect position, but better than the alternative.]”*

    I’m not sure what Palin meant by either “in danger” or “abortion” but I think this statement may possibly be in accord with Catholic teaching. A woman who is actually being killed by a pregnancy isn’t expected to just lie there and die. While some might say that removing an ectopic pregnancy isn’t an abortion, it does terminate the pregnancy. Similarly, there are some situations, like preeclampsia, where pregnancy can place so much stress on a woman’s body as to endanger her life, and the baby has to be delivered ASAP. That is technically not an “abortion” as the cause of death, if done before viability, is premature birth. On the other hand, that’s exactly how many Downs Syndrome babies are deliberately aborted.

  8. magdalen says:

    Had Catholics only voted in accord with Church teaching all along we would not be at this precipice.

    It is not too late! Catholics can still defeat the greater evil.

    And this evil will not only affect the US. There are things at the old UN that Bush has resisted because they are intrinsically evil and their ratification by the US would be a global increase of the evils.

  9. PMcGrath says:

    In a 2001 US census, 50,873,000 respondents identified themselves as Catholics, which was a slight increase from the 1990 poll.

    The decennial U.S. Census, which would have taken place in 2000, not 2001, does not ask a religion identification question. (I was a census enumerator in 1990, so I know what I’m talking about.)

    An enumeration of the entire U.S. population, like the U.S. Census, is by definition not a “poll.” A “poll” is a sample of a population.

    Therefore I question the accuracy of that report.

  10. mpm says:

    It strikes me that the age difference “cohorts” allow one to get a sense of
    what is happening. The cohorts which are most wobbly on abortion seem to be
    those who have received some sort of primary Catholic catechesis since the
    1980’s — “seamless garment” time par excellence.

    All the “seamless garment” metaphor symbolizes to me, is the willingness of
    Catholics who are responsible for teaching the faith to the young generation
    to “throw the dice”.

    Catholic Moral Theology should be for the benefit of the Body of Christ! He
    himself allowed himself to be stripped of his “seamless garment”. It’s time
    we tossed our “seamless garment” away too.

  11. Jim C says:

    Sadly, he needs to tell the same message to the priests of his Archdiocese. My pastor is a priest serving in the Archdiocese of KCK and he needs to be brought on board with the Archbishop on this issue. Father has been rationalizing voting for other issues based on proportionality. My private conversation with him was most depressing for me as I made zero headway on this critical issue. Our Church is not winning on the life issue and the USCCB may well be the blame. Faithful Citizenship is a disaster and could be characterized Faithless Citizenship.

    Archbishop Naumann has a lot of work ahead of him in the archdiocese relative to the Life issue. May God grant him wisdom and courage.

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