Arizona governor Janet Napolitano is one of the latest to be directly affected by a ban put in place by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted which disallows politicians who support issues like abortion and gay marriage from speaking in Catholic churches.
The conflict arose last year when Napolitano was scheduled to speak against Proposition 200, an Arizona ballot measure restricting the rights of undocumented immigrant workers--an issue the Church has spoken out against itself.
The issue however, according to a letter issued by Bishop Olmsted last December, is that Catholic churches who invite politicians that disagree with fundamental Church teachings, like abortion, could be providing a platform “which would suggest support for their actions.”
According to the Arizona Republic, Napolitano, who is a Methodist, said that she was unaware of the ban but had heard about the bishop’s letter.
Bishop Olmsted’s decision came in response to a statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s entitled: Catholics in Political Life, which points out the moral weight of disagreement with the Church on fundamental life and sexuality teaching, but allows individual bishops to make decisions regarding distribution of Communion and speakers in their parishes.
Bishop Gerald Kincanas, of the nearby Diocese of Tucson has taken a different approach to the matter. He opted to establish no such ban on political speakers and in fact, according to diocesan spokesman Fred Allison, as quoted in the Republic, allowed Napolitano herself to speak at an interfaith gathering this past April.
Napolitano has publicly expressed her support on numerous issues which the Catholic Church expressly condemns.