.- The U.S. bishops are currently considering how prominent their voices will be in the 2008 presidential race.
Of late, there have been some high profile encounters between bishops and the different presidential candidates. This has not been isolated to the United States either. In Australia, as previously reported by CNA, Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth have become engaged in a debate over cloning and the creation of human-animal embryos.
Archbishop Charles Chaput recently granted an interview to The Associated Press where he said that the bishops’ involvement depends on which candidates and issues emerge, but said he thinks the time for behind-the-scenes diplomacy with politicians is over.
"I personally think that anybody that is pro-choice as a Catholic is not being faithful to his Catholic identity, and I think that people who are Catholics, when they look at those issues, should take that into consideration when they vote," the archbishop of Denver told the AP.
In the 2004 presidential race, the debate emerged about whether to deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights. Archbishop Chaput helped craft a statement that year, which left the question of whether to deny Communion up to each bishop.
The archbishop said in the interview that he grew in assertiveness on this point partly out of frustration from his personal meetings with politicians, who often would just "look at you vacantly." He does not believe a more assertive stance violates the laws governing nonprofit involvement in politics.
But the archbishop added that the most effective approach is educating Catholic voters, who in turn could influence politicians. He added that he does not like either political party because neither encapsulates the range of Catholic teaching.
Archbishop John Myers of Newark told the AP that "the principle involved is to try to figure out which of the candidates comes closest to the full gamut of Catholic teaching, in particular when you talk about the life issues."