Archbishop Naumann says Gov. Sebelius nomination ‘particularly troubling’

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann


Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann has responded to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to President Obama’s Cabinet, calling it “particularly troubling” that an “outspoken advocate of legal abortion” was chosen for the key position.

He also raised concerns about her connections to abortion “rights” lobbying groups and Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Gov. Sebelius, who has been named to become Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was rebuked by the archbishop in 2008 for her support for abortion. He asked her to refrain from receiving Communion until she publicly retracts her position and makes a worthy confession.

Writing in a March 6 column in The Leaven, Archbishop Naumann said that normally it would be “a source of joy and pride” to have a Kansas Catholic named to the Cabinet.

“Unfortunately, I experience neither,” he said.

Acknowledging the governor as “a very bright and gifted leader” who represents Catholic social teaching in “many important areas,” the archbishop praised her work for affordable housing, health care access, and incentives encouraging adoption.

“Yet, on the fundamental moral issue of protecting innocent human life, Governor Sebelius, throughout her career, has been an outspoken advocate for legalized abortion,” Archbishop Naumann wrote. “For this reason her appointment to HHS is particularly troubling.”

Though Kansas has the most restrictive laws concerning late-term abortions, the archbishop said, Kansas is “the late-term abortion capital of the Midwest” because the current laws have not been enforced and because Gov. Sebelius has vetoed legislative efforts to improve their enforcement.

Archbishop Naumann noted that early in her political career Gov. Sebelius accepted political contributions from the abortionist Dr. George Tiller.

“When this was no longer politically opportune, Dr. Tiller established a political action committee through which he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the election and re-election of Governor Sebelius, as well as other equally staunch supporters of legalized abortion,” the archbishop charged.

Saying that the HHS Secretary will be a “key figure” in implementing health care reform, he alerted that groups influential in the Obama administration and in Gov. Sebelius’ political career want abortion to be considered a “health care right.”

Groups like Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women and NARAL, Archbishop Naumann warned, want to have abortion mandated as one of many “basic health care services.”

If they are successful, he said, it is “entirely possible that doctors, nurses and health care institutions will be compelled to cooperate in the provision of abortion.”

“Those advocating for abortion to be considered a ‘right’ would love to see Catholic hospitals faced with the choice to either cooperate in providing abortions or close,” the archbishop claimed.

Noting the Obama administration’s efforts to rescind HHS conscience protection rules for health care workers and providers, the archbishop also mentioned that President Obama as U.S. Senator co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This version of the bill would have “forced health care providers to cooperate in abortion.”

Explaining his admonishment to Gov. Sebelius not to present herself for Communion, Archbishop Naumann said he did so hoping the action would motivate Gov. Sebelius to reconsider her support for an “intrinsic evil,” the destruction of human life in abortion.

He also voiced his “personal concern” for the governor, saying:

“Her appointment as Secretary for HHS places her in a position where she will have to make many decisions that will in all probability continue her personal involvement in promoting legalized abortion and her cooperation in this intrinsic evil.”

“I also took this pastoral action to protect others from being misled by the Governor’s public support and advocacy for legalized abortion,” he said in The Leaven, adding that he is concerned about the many nationally prominent Catholics who support legalized abortion.

“It saddens me that so many Catholics, to gain political advancement, have chosen to compromise their Catholic faith by their failure to defend the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life,” he wrote.

“We need to pray for all Catholics who serve in public life that they will have the courage and integrity to be true to the teachings and principles of our Faith no matter the political consequences.”

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