Fr. Bernard Healey, the editor of the Rhode Island Catholic, has written an editorial accusing the group Catholics United of being formed to “give cover to pro-abortion policymakers.”Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United, has contended that this is a misrepresentation of the organization.
Writing in a March 5 editorial for the Rhode Island Catholic, Fr. Bernard Healey criticized President Barack Obama for overturning the Mexico City Policy, moving to rescind conscience protection rules for health care workers and nominating the pro-abortion “rights” Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The Kansas governor is a Catholic and well known for her ties to the notorious late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller,” Fr. Healey wrote. “As Governor of Kansas she vetoed legislation that would have stopped late-term abortions and impeded the investigation of Dr. Tiller’s horrific practice of late term abortion. If confirmed by the Senate as the HHS Secretary, Gov. Sebelius would have the authority to issue regulations that would undermine pro-life policies and eliminate conscience protections for Catholic and other pro-life medical professionals.”
The priest also noted that the governor has been rebuked by Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann, who asked her to refrain from Communion until she disavows her support for abortion.
Fr. Healey then criticized Catholics United, a group which on its website describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.”
“Not surprisingly,” the priest charged, Gov. Sebelius has the support of the “radical abortion lobby” and also Catholics United. He quoted the group’s claim that Gov. Sebelius “has made clear that she agrees with church teaching that abortion is wrong and has lived and acted according to that belief. As governor, she has worked to reduce the number of abortions by supporting expanded prenatal care and adoption incentives, expanding health services for Kansas families, and providing a variety of support services for families.”
“Catholics United is not an official Catholic group but rather a group of liberal Catholics formed to provide cover for pro-abortion policymakers such as President Obama under the guise of promoting “social justice and the common good.”
In a statement to CNA, Catholics United executive director Chris Korzen said Fr. Healey’s charge about the group was “an inaccurate statement.”
“Fr. Healey has agreed to publish a letter from me correcting the statement, which is absolutely not true,” he said.
Recently, Catholics United has been attacked in the Catholic blogosphere as a front group for Democratic initiatives and candidates.
In October 2008, Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput described Catholics United as a “Democratic-friendly” group. The group has done a “disservice to the Church” and has also “confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers 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.”
Catholics United responded by voicing concern that the archbishop’s comments will have a “chilling effect” on dialogue about Catholic values in public life. They characterized his criticism as “personal attacks on lay Catholics acting in good faith to promote Catholic values in the public square.”
According to the Catholics United web site, the group’s Director of Organizing James Salt “oversaw the Kansas Democratic Party's faith outreach efforts, including messaging work for Governor Sebelius and development of faith-based messaging resources.”