"But if you're the kind of Catholic who seeks to discipline his or her life around Catholic beliefs regarding marriage and family, religious freedom, sex, and abortion-well, that's a different matter," he said, noting that observant Catholic Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) lost his seat in a primary earlier this year that centered mainly on his pro-life views.
"Catholics in this country spent more than a century fighting their way into the American mainstream. The cost has been high," said Chaput.
The current Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joe Biden, is a Catholic but has taken several political positions that run counter to Church teaching but are in line with his own party's platform, such as support for legalized abortion until birth, and support for same-sex marriage. Biden has pledged to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, precluding state limits on abortion.
"To the degree that self-described Catholic political leaders are indistinguishable in their views and actions from their colleagues with no faith at all, the cost has been far too high," said Chaput.
"A politics of democratic pluralism requires that differences of belief must be respected," he said. "Catholics do rightly demand civility and respect for the teachings of their Church, especially from a Senate supposedly informed by a spirit of service to the whole nation."
The archbishop said that "positioning dissenting Catholics as 'mainstream Americans' and believing Catholics as 'extremists'" is now a "common and thoroughly dishonest culture war technique," and "a particular affront to the free exercise of religion."
Chaput said that the present "hostility toward those who support Catholic teaching" should not only concern Catholics in the United States, but also "anyone who values the First Amendment."
"If attacks on belief are an acceptable standard by which to impugn judicial nominees today, then tomorrow they'll be used on the rest of us who uphold the teachings of our faith," he said. "It puts the rights of far more Americans at risk than will ever be nominated for the court."