The Jesuit magazine, America, will publish an article in its Aug. 16-23 issue, in which a pro-abortion politician says he will not let Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis "coerce" him into imposing the Church's teachings on U.S. society.
The weekly international magazine provided reporters with an advance copy of the article last week.
In his article, titled “My Conscience, My Vote”, U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) says Archbishop Burke “attempted to use his interpretations of theology to coerce me into taking specific positions on matters that I believe are matters of constitutional law."
This is the politician’s first public response to Archbishop Burke since last year, when it became public that the archbishop, then bishop for the Diocese of La Crosse, sent letters to three Wisconsin politicians. The letters warned the Catholic politicians that their support of "anti-life" legislation was causing grave scandal and putting their spiritual well being at risk.
Obey cites the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican's doctrinal note on the political participation of Catholics to back his position and describes himself as a Midwestern populist progressive with Catholic values.
In the article, Obey admits to his mixed voting record on abortion, saying: “I have voted well over 60 times for limitations of one kind or another on a woman's right to choose abortion."
He says that while he “detests” abortion and agrees with Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong, he refuses “to force my views into laws that, if adopted, would be unenforceable and would tear this society apart."
Obey also admits that he has been corresponding privately with the bishop for about a year. He says that Archbishop Burke expressed concern about Obey's votes on several abortion-related issues, but that Obey's support of stem-cell research and his unwillingness to limit access to abortions in military hospitals were especially troubling to the bishop.