Catholic Bishops: 'Shun' Pro-Abortion Candidates

Roman Catholic bishops have decreed that pro-abortion Catholic candidates may not "use church events to appeal for votes," but all candidates "have not gotten the message," today's Washington Times reports. However, Bishop James McHugh of the Diocese of Camden, NJ, "said, that since the 1980s -- when abortion issues became so central to elections -- Catholics running for office on a pro-abortion position could not expect church honors or speaking invitations unless it is a candidate forum."

Bishop McHugh explained, "The purpose of the policy is to forestall having to disinvite somebody." Abortion became a volatile issue for Catholic candidates in the mid-1980s, when New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) made public comments about his pro-abortion position, and Catholic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro was "opposed" by New York Cardinal John O'Connor for being pro-abortion.

The Times reports that while "most dioceses and candidates know the delicate rules of protocol," not all candidates abide by them. Patricia Kelly, associate director of the Maryland Catholic Conference said, "[I]t's a situation [candidates] have created," by ignoring church teaching. In California, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) has been attending mass at "different Catholic parishes on Sundays and often gain[s] special recognition," according to the Times. Sanchez received a letter of censure in March from Bishop Norman McFarland stating that her church visits "appear to be motivated by partisan and personal ambitions."

George Forsyth of the Catholic Campaign for America "said the dioceses want to be fair and nonpartisan, but it can be complicated." He said, "There are far too many Catholic officials who use their affiliation with the church, but who are pro-abortion." Bishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Washington said, "Mainly, we try to operate by preventive measures" (Witham, Washington Times, 8/6).

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