Archive of October 17, 2008

Cardinal Canizares: without catechesis there would be no evangelization

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Antonio Canizares of Toledo in Spain said during the synod of bishops this week that without serious and solid catechesis, the Church’s mission of evangelization is not possible.


The cardinal referred to catechesis as “one of the forms of the ministry of the Word,” and he underscored “the irreplaceable and essential role of catechesis in the passing on of the Word of God, whose peculiarity lies in being a period of teaching and maturing, of vital reflection on the mystery of Christ, of integral initiation of what is vital, ordered and systematic, into the revelation that God himself has made to man in Jesus Christ.” This teaching is “not isolated from life or artificially juxtaposed to it, and is conserved in the profound memory of the living Tradition of the Church.”


“Catechesis,” he continued, “introduces, initiates in the listening and receiving of the Word and the teaching of the Apostles, in the liturgy, in the evangelical moral life in conformity with charity and in prayer.”


Cardinal Canizares warned that without catechesis, “most Christians would not be ready to assume the Gospel and translate it into daily life, nor to act in a missionary and apostolic sense, nor to successfully confront the spiritual and cultural currents of our time.”


“Only with a serious, authentic and renewed catechesis can the Church solidly unfold the fullness of the elements and functions of her evangelistic action,” he said in conclusion.

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Bishops and Knights of Columbus launch project to prevent redefinition of marriage

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has joined with the Knights of Columbus in developing a national plan of action to defend marriage against consequential legislative and judicial efforts to redefine marriage.

Among the first initiatives planned are the production of a brief internet video, the use of social networking site marketing, and the distribution of the bishops’ statement on marriage “Between Man and Woman.”

The 2003 statement affirms that marriage is a unique relationship between a man and a woman and therefore an essential element of healthy societies.

Cardinal Francis George, USCCB president, has appointed the ad hoc committee leading the effort. The committee is chaired by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who also serves as chair of the USCCB sub-committee on Marriage and Family Life. He is joined by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, who chairs the bishops' Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop Gabino Zavala, who is auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chair of the USCCB task force on strengthening marriage.

The Knights of Columbus have agreed to fund the bishops’ efforts and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson serves as a consultant on the committee.

“We must increase our efforts to make known the unique beauty of the vocation to marriage," explained Archbishop Kurtz at the announcement of the committee. "At the same time, we must address inadequacies in the ongoing public debate on the nature of marriage through education and public policy advocacy.”

The new plan continues broader efforts at promoting and protecting marriage. In 2004 the bishops began a National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, which includes the “For Your Marriage” campaign.

The campaign web site at offers information and help to engaged and married couples. The campaign began distributing “For Your Marriage” messages in July 2007, in such an amount that the campaign ranked in the top twenty percent of air time.

As of September 7, a press release states, Nielsen reported 27,726 total broadcasts of the four "For Your Marriage" messages released so far, using donated airtime valued at $4.3 million.

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Doctors establish Denver affiliate of Catholic Medical Association

Denver, Colo., Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday afternoon during the Archdiocese of Denver’s first annual White Mass for physicians and other health care providers, Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput will formally announce the establishment of the Denver guild of the national Catholic Medical Association.

“There are many issues that confront Catholic physicians and other health care providers such as abortion, sterilization, embryonic stem cell research and attacks on conscience rights, that can make it difficult to hold on to Catholic beliefs,” said Robert Domaleski, M.D., president of the new Denver CMA guild.

“Being part of a national association allows our voices to be heard in many different venues of local and national government on matters that impact the way we deliver care to our patients on a day-to-day basis.”

Bishop James D. Conley, auxiliary bishop of Denver, will concelebrate the Mass and Father Steven Voss, chaplain of the Denver guild, will deliver the homily.

Board members for the new guild are: Robert Domaleski, M.D., president; Andy Burroughs, M.D., vice president; Ted Anselmi, M.D., secretary; and Alan Rastrelli, M.D., treasurer. Dr. Rastrelli was elected one of Denver ’s “Top Doctors” in the October issue of 5280 magazine.

The new guild’s web site is at

The Catholic Medical Association has been in existence for nearly 100 years and has the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Pope praises new film for showing JPII’s ‘valor’ and ‘evangelical passion’

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Paul VI Hall hosted a screening of a new documentary on the life of Pope John Paul II on Thursday afternoon. Following the film, Pope Benedict XVI praised the affectionate tribute for its ability to convey the “valor and evangelical passion” of the late Pope.

The new film, which is called “Testimony” is based on the book "A Life with Karol" by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II´s personal assistant, and the Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi.

With the final scenes of “Testimony” echoing in the minds of the audience, Pope Benedict offered his reflections on the documentary.

The film "takes our minds back to that late evening of October 16, 1978, thirty years ago today, which has remained engraved in everyone's heart" Benedict XVI said recalling the late Pope´s first words to the crowd waiting to greet their new shepherd, "If I make a mistake [in the language] you will correct me."

Encapsulating the life of the Pontiff, Pope Benedict said, "We could say that the pontificate of John Paul II is enclosed between two expressions: ‘Open the doors to Christ! Do not be afraid,’ and his words on his deathbed: ‘Let me go to the house of the Father’.”

“Testimony,” the Holy Father noted, reveals “previously unknown episodes,” and displays “the human simplicity, the firm courage and, finally, the suffering of John Paul II, which he faced to the end with his inborn hardiness and the patience of a humble servant of the Gospel."

"The film also gives us a better understanding of John Paul II's homeland, Poland, and of its cultural and religious traditions," said the Pope. "It enables us to revisit famous events in ecclesial and civil life, and episodes of which most people are unaware. The whole story is recounted with the affection of one who shared closely in these events, living in the shadow of their protagonist."

Pope John Paul II left a mark on the history of the Church and the world, Pope Benedict noted, and "thanks to this film" those who did not know him "have a way of appreciating his valor and evangelical passion."

After thanking Cardinal Dziwisz, who remained at Karol Wojtyla's side for 39 years, and the director of the film and his associates, Benedict XVI reiterated John Paul II's invitation, "do not be afraid," and told those present, many of whom were Poles, to "bear witness to Christ courageously."

"Testimony" was directed by the Polish director Pawel Pitera and filmed in the Vatican, Krakow, Wadowice (Karol Wojtyla’s birthplace), Rome, Portugal and Germany. It is narrated by Cardinal Dziwisz himself and by the English actor, Michael York.

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Duluth bishop appointed coadjutor archbishop of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - This morning the Holy Father appointed Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Duluth, Minnesota as coadjutor Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The prelate will serve alongside current archbishop, Daniel Pilarczyk, and then take over his position when he retires next year.


The archbishop-elect was born in Sheldon, Iowa in 1948.  According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the prelate attended Loras College in Dubuque, earning his Bachelor of Arts.  He then studied Theology as part of a Masters program in Rome as he prepared for the priesthood.  The archbishop-elect was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa in 1974.


As a priest, Bishop Schnurr served several parishes within his home diocese.  He later worked in the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and was elected the General Secretary of the NCCB/USCCB before being consecrated the bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota in 2001. 


In his new position, Bishop Schnurr, 60, will serve alongside the current Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, 74.  As coadjutor archbishop, Schnurr will take the reigns when Archbishop Pilarczyk retires.  He will serve 500,000 Catholics and 501 priests.

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Survey shows self-described ‘pro-choicers’ favor significant abortion restrictions

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - A new poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus shows only limited support for permissive abortion laws among all Americans and among Catholics specifically. Even those who label themselves as pro-choice often favor more restrictions on abortion than are currently allowed under Roe v. Wade, the poll finds.

The poll asked survey respondents to state which of six statements came closest to describing their opinion of abortion and to describe themselves as either “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”

About 50 percent of survey respondents described themselves as “pro-choice,” while 44 percent considered themselves to be “pro-life.”

A plurality of about 32 percent of respondents said that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Close to 24 percent held that abortion should be legal only in the first three months of pregnancy, while 15 percent said abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother and 13 percent agreed that abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance.

Eight percent said that abortion should be allowed only during the first six months of pregnancy, while only another eight percent said that abortion should be available to a woman any time during her entire pregnancy.

Only 15 percent of self-described “pro-choice” respondents favored unrestricted abortion throughout a pregnancy. About 43 percent of pro-choice respondents said abortion should be restricted to the first trimester and 23 percent would restrict abortion only to cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life was in danger.

Among Catholics specifically, 48 percent overall described themselves as pro-life, with 59 percent of practicing Catholics and 29 percent of non-practicing Catholics doing so. Close to 47 percent of Catholics described themselves as pro-choice, with 36 percent of practicing Catholics and 65 percent of non-practicing Catholics claiming the label.

Nearly 90 percent of Catholics wanted to restrict abortion to no more than the first trimester of pregnancy, while 72 percent either would limit legalized abortion to cases of rape or incest and to save the life of the mother, would permit it only to save the life of the mother, or do not believe abortion should ever be permitted.

About 35 percent of Catholics said abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This included 37 percent of practicing Catholics and 30 percent of non-practicing Catholics.

The next largest Catholic cohort, 26 percent, said abortion should be allowed in the first three months of a pregnancy, with 20 percent of practicing Catholics and 36 percent of non-practicing Catholics supporting this position.

Seventeen percent of Catholics said abortion should never be permitted, a position supported by 21 percent of practicing Catholics and 11 percent of non-practicing Catholics.

Six percent of Catholics supported unrestricted abortion throughout pregnancy, including five percent of practicing Catholics and eight percent of non-practicing ones. Another five percent of all Catholics favored legalized abortion only during the first six months of pregnancy, with three percent of practicing Catholics and nine percent of non-practicing Catholics taking such a stand.

The survey, whose results were reported in the document “Moral Issues and Catholic Values,” was conducted for the Knights of Columbus by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion between September 24 and October 3, 2008. Surveying 1,733 Americans among whom 813 were Catholics, it claims a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent for all Americans and 3.5 percent for Catholics specifically.

Full details of the poll results can be found at

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Paya urges Spaniards not to be indifferent to situation in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, called on Spaniards this week not to be indifferent to the violations of human rights committed by the Cuban government, because “being on the right, in the center or on the left” is not a license “to support a system without rights like that of Cuba.”


In a conference call, Paya said everybody in Spain knows about the violations of human rights carried out by the Cuban Communist regime.  “It is a scandal that some justify, support and even enjoy. Others increase their support and over-calculate the risks and the benefits, with little generosity,” he stated.


Paya recalled that in Cuba, “There are dozens of people in prison solely for peacefully defending the rights of Cubans, solely for promoting the Varela Project which calls for rights for everyone.”


He pointed out that as long as these people are kept in prison, “all Cubans are under threat, and the message being sent to the world is that in order to have full relations with the Cuban state, it must be accepted as normal that Cubans are marginalized in their own country and that they are citizens, or rather servants, without rights.”


Therefore Paya exhorted the citizens “of Spain and of all of Europe” to decide “if they are on the side of oppression or of freedom.  There is no in-between.”

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Ab. Chaput calls Obama ‘most committed’ abortion rights candidate since 1973

Denver, Colo., Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - In Denver this evening, Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke to a group dedicated to promoting the “genius of women” and what they contribute to society. During his talk, Chaput sharply disagreed with Doug Kmiec’s promotion of Sen. Obama, calling him the “most committed ‘abortion-rights’ presidential candidate … since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973.”  


The Archbishop of Denver began his thoughts by offering what one of his friends calls his “Litany to the IRS”:  “I’m not here tonight to tell you how to vote.  I don’t want to do that, I won’t do that, and I don’t use code language -- so you don’t need to spend any time looking for secret political endorsements.”


Moreover, Chaput emphasized that what he had to say was “as an author and private citizen” and not on behalf of “the Holy See, or the American bishops, or any other bishop, or even officially for the Archdiocese of Denver.” He did, however, say that he believes that he believes his views are “pretty solidly grounded in Catholic teaching and the heart of the Church.”


After speaking about the role of Catholics in the public square and why he wrote his recently published book “Render Unto Caesar,” Chaput then turned to how it has been treated by Pepperdine Law School professor Douglas Kmiec.


“I began work on ‘Render Unto Caesar’ in July 2006.  I made the final changes to the text in November 2007.  That’s a long time before anyone was nominated for president, and it was Doubleday, not I, that set the book’s release date for August 2008,” he noted.


“So -- unlike Prof. Douglas Kmiec’s recent book, ‘Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama,’ which argues a Catholic case for Senator Obama -- I wrote ‘Render Unto Caesar’ with no interest in supporting or attacking any candidate or any political party,” Chaput explained.

While noting that “Prof. Kmiec has a strong record of service to the Church and the nation in his past,” Chaput took exception to Kmiec’s claim that “his reasoning and mine are ‘not far distant on the moral inquiry necessary in the election of 2008’.”


“Unfortunately, he either misunderstands or misuses my words, and he couldn’t be more mistaken,” Chaput stated.


Archbishop Chaput even further specified his stance saying, “I believe that Senator Obama, whatever his other talents, is the most committed ‘abortion-rights’ presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973.”  


“Despite what Prof. Kmiec suggests,” he continued, “the party platform Senator Obama runs on this year is not only aggressively ‘pro-choice;’ it has also removed any suggestion that killing an unborn child might be a regrettable thing.  On the question of homicide against the unborn child – and let’s remember that the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer explicitly called abortion ‘murder’ – the Democratic platform that emerged from Denver in August 2008 is clearly anti-life.”


Chaput also addressed Kmiec’s assertion that there are “defensible motives” to support Obama. “Speaking for myself,” he said, “I do not know any proportionate reason that could outweigh more than 40 million unborn children killed by abortion and the many millions of women deeply wounded by the loss and regret abortion creates.” 


The archbishop also offered his analysis of Catholics who argue that “Senator Obama is this year’s ‘real’ prolife candidate.” For Catholics to believe this “requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse,” he stated.


Such a portrayal of the “2008 Democratic Party presidential ticket as the preferred ‘prolife’ option is to subvert what the word ‘prolife’ means,” he charged, pointing his audience towards Prof. Robert George’s essay “Obama’s Abortion Extremism,” which was published earlier this week on the web site of The Public Discourse.   


Groups friendly to the Democrat Party such as “Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good” were also criticized by Chaput.


In his words, they have “done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress prolifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”


According to Archbishop Chaput, there is irony to be found in all of the arguments being made by Catholics in favor of Sen. Barack Obama—none of them are new. “They’ve been around, in one form or another, for more than 25 years.”


“All of them seek to “get beyond” abortion, or economically reduce the number of abortions, or create a better society where abortion won’t be necessary.  All of them involve a misuse of the seamless garment imagery in Catholic social teaching.  And all of them, in practice, seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues.” 


“This is a great sadness,” Chaput said.


“Meanwhile, the basic human rights violation at the heart of abortion – the intentional destruction of an innocent, developing human life -- is wordsmithed away as a terrible crime that just can’t be fixed by the law.  I don’t believe that.  I think that argument is a fraud.  And I don’t think any serious believer can accept that argument without damaging his or her credibility.  We still have more than a million abortions a year, and we can’t blame them all on Republican social policies.  After all, it was a Democratic president, not a Republican, who vetoed the partial birth abortion ban – twice.”


Archbishop Chaput, did not flinch from calling out those Catholics who are uncomfortable with fighting against abortion. Describing the cause as “not the kind of social justice they like to talk about,” he alleged that, “It interferes with their natural political alliances.” 


The novelty to Catholic Obama supporters’ approach, explained the archbishop, is “their packaging,” charging that they have mimicked the abortion lobbies’ attempt to undermine the bishops teaching authority in the 70s.


“I think it’s an intelligent strategy,” he commented, adding, “I also think it’s wrong and often dishonest.”


Chaput also disputed the charge leveled by some, including Prof. Nicholas Cafardi, who claim that the struggle over abortion is legally lost. These people “are not just wrong; they’re betraying the witness of every person who continues the work of defending the unborn child.  And I hope they know how to explain that, because someday they’ll be required to,” he said.


The archbishop closed his remarks on political life by noting that the country is undergoing difficult times and that “a deep spirit of conflict and anxiety” has crept into this election in particular. Nevertheless, Chaput pointed to Christ saying, “I do believe Scripture when it tells us not to be afraid.  God uses each of us to renew the world if we let him.”

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Election of John Paul II marked historic milestone, says director of the L’Osservatore Romano

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - The director of the L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, published an editorial this week dedicated  to the 30th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II, recalling that his election marked an historic milestone since he was the first Slavic successor of St. Peter.


In his editorial, Vian wrote that “on the afternoon of October 16, 1978, thirty years ago, the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla marked a true turn in the history of the succession of the Roman chair. After almost half a millennium, since the time of Adrian VI (1522—1523), the College of Cardinals chose as Bishop of Rome a cardinal who was not of Italian origin. And for the first time in history, a Slav became Pontiff.”


After his elevation to the cardinalate by Paul VI, “the young Polish archbishop became an important protagonist in the Catholic Church, although many did not know him,” Vian wrote. By assuming a double name, the new Pope “undoubtedly confirmed continuity with John XXIII and Paul VI and gave a voice to the so-called silent Church muzzled by the Communist regimes.”


“In the world’s memory is the image of that Pope who thirty years ago introduced himself as having come from a faraway land and who soon gave visibility to the Catholic Church.” He was able to accomplish this “thanks above all to the numerous international trips that made him a familiar figure across the planet, and to his powerful teaching rooted in the love of Christ and the defense of the human being: a teaching heard by many non-believers and that will not be without fruit,” Vian wrote.

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McCain and Obama trade jokes, compliments at Archdiocese of NY dinner

, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - Last night, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama attended the 63rd Annual Alfred E. Smith dinner hosted by the Archdiocese of New York.  The event, known to show the human side and personalities of the candidates commemorates the death of Alfred E. Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated by a major political party to run for the presidency.


During the dinner, which raised $4 million to assist the poor living within the Archdiocese of New York, the senators sat on either side of New York Cardinal Edward Egan (McCain at his right and Obama at his left) and afterwards joked about themselves, their campaigns, and of course, each other.


During McCain’s 14-minute speech, he poked fun at the often-used Messianic language used to describe his opponent.


"After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of the man known to Oprah Winfrey as 'The One.' Being a friend and colleague of Barack I just called him 'That One'."


He continued, throwing a jab at Obama, “He doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me: 'George Bush'."


McCain kept the audience laughing as he noted his current status as the “underdog.”  However, he remarked, “if you know where to look there are signs of hope, even in the most unexpected of places, even in the room filled with proud Manhattan Democrats. I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me.”  He then added, “I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary."


He also called to attention the voter registration and the media coverage around the country. 


"So, you know I have fun with the media. We all know that the press is really an independent, civic-minded and non-partisan group … like ACORN.


"In case you haven't been following my opponent's 'Get Out The Vote' campaign, ACORN is helping to register groups that were previously excluded, overlooked and under-served – second-graders, the deceased, Disney characters."


In his closing words, McCain spoke from the heart to Obama, “"I don't want it getting out of this room, but my opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways." He continued, “I've had a few glimpses of this man at his best and I admire his great skill, energy and determination. It's not for nothing, but he's inspired many folks in his own party and beyond. Senator Obama talks about making history and he's made quite a bit of it already. There was a time when the mere invitation of an African-American citizen to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage and an insult. Today is a world away from the cruelty and prideful bigotry of that time – and good riddance.”


"I can't wish my opponent luck, but I do wish him well."


Obama then took the microphone and joked about his name, explained that though he isn’t “the chosen one,” he felt it was the right time to explain who he is.


"Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth," he said, alluding to Superman.


"Many of you know I got my name, Barack, from my father," Obama said. "It's actually Swahili for 'That One.'


"And I got my middle name, obviously, from someone who never thought I'd be running for president."


Obama also joked about his elaborate stage at the Democrat’s National Convention.  "I was originally told we'd be able to move this outdoors to Yankee Stadium," he said of the dinner.


He then glanced around and said, “Could somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?"

Obama also had words of praise for his rival.  He commented that few Americans had served the U.S. with the “honor and distinction” that McCain had while he was in the Navy. 

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Controversy follows Texas bishops’ statement against pro-abortion rights candidates

Dallas, Texas, Oct 17, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishop of Dallas Kevin Farrell and the Bishop of Fort Worth Kevin Vann have issued a joint document concerning Catholics’ political responsibilities, receiving significant reaction for insisting that there are no “truly grave” or “proportionate” moral reasons to vote for a pro-abortion rights candidate that can outweigh the intrinsic evil of the millions killed by legal abortion each year.

The bishops’ October 8 letter noted the observance of Respect Life Month, which they said takes on a “more profound meaning” in an election year in which “the protection of human life itself, particularly that of the unborn, is very much at stake.”

Citing the U.S. bishops’ 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” Bishops Farrell and Vann noted that not all issues have moral equivalence, some of them being “intrinsic evils” that can never be justified. The bishops labeled as such evils legalized abortion, the promotion of same sex unions and "marriages," repression of religious liberty, and public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.

“The destruction of the most innocent of human life through abortion and embryonic stem cell research not only undercuts the basic human right to life, but it also subverts and distorts the common good,” the bishops wrote. “We cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion.”

While stating that abortion is not the only issue, the bishops called it the “defining issue” of the last 35 years.

A candidate’s correct position on other issues “does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of ‘abortion rights.’”

The bishops explained that a Catholic voter may only vote “in good conscience” for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil when they are no other candidates who do not endorse such a position. “If both candidates running for office support abortion or ‘abortion rights,’ a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done,” they wrote.

Catholics could conscientiously support a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil “if another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion.”

However, they emphasized:

“While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.”

Some Catholics interpreted the letter as an endorsement of Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee who says he supports overturning Roe v. Wade.

The reading of the letter during Mass on Sunday at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Dallas prompted about two dozen parishioners to walk out.

Paul Dickel, who was at the Sunday Mass, told CBS station KTVT-TV: “I feel like that Bishop was really testing the division between church and state.”

According to political commentator Deal Hudson, about two dozen people on Wednesday held a protest at the diocesan chancery objecting to the letter.

Karen Garnett, Executive Director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in Dallas, spoke about the statement and the reaction in a phone interview with CNA on Friday.

Garnett explained that the statement was read at one Catholic parish last weekend in place of the homily.

“About two dozen people got up and walked out and went to the media to complain,” which she said created the story furthered by the protest outside the Bishop of Dallas’ office.

She reported that the document had generated an “overwhelming” and a “strong, supportive” response, estimating that positive reactions made up about eighty percent of the messages and calls sent to the diocese.

In Garnett’s view, some people are upset because don’t understand the statement.

“They think the bishops are telling them who to vote for. That’s not what the statement does,” she continued, explaining that the statement was issued to “clarify Church teaching.”

In response to the controversy, Bishop Farrell has agreed to meet with those who are protesting

Garnett said her office is “just issuing the clarification that this is not partisan, it’s not about any particular candidate.”

She added that the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in Dallas “cannot be more grateful” to the bishops, calling their document a “really clear statement” that addresses what she called the “confusion” and “misunderstanding” concerning paragraph 35 of the U.S. bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document.

That paragraph concerns the “morally grave reasons” which could justify a vote for a candidate who holds morally unacceptable positions.

“It’s an answer to our prayers, we couldn’t thank them enough,” Garnett said of Bishops Farrell and Vann’s statement.

Garnett added that the Dallas Morning News, which featured the story about the controversy on the front page of their metro section, invited the Dallas public to read the statement by including a link to the bishops’ letter reproduced on their own web site.

This produced “way more exposure than we could ever hope for through the Catholic press alone.”

“The media is actually helping us here,” she said, inviting people to read the statement themselves.

The statement may be read at

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