Calling Sebelius pro-life is ‘very, very dishonest,’ says Kansas City archbishop

Archbishop Joseph Naumann / Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
Archbishop Joseph Naumann / Gov. Kathleen Sebelius


In response to reports that Governor of Kansas Kathleen Sebelius is the reason the abortion rate in her state has decreased, Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann noted that due to her 30 year career supporting legalized abortion, the claims are “very, very dishonest.”

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who was recently tapped to become Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, was reprimanded by Archbishop Naumann last year for her support of legalized abortion.  However, despite her pro-abortion “rights” advocacy, some have pointed out that as governor of Kansas, the abortion rate decreased.

In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), the Kansas City archbishop acknowledged that during her term as governor, abortion did drop, but added that he thinks this occurred despite her actions.


“I think that’s very, very dishonest and not at all accurate. It’s true that abortion dropped during her term as governor but I don’t think she really had anything to do with it, although she likes to take credit for it. And in fact, during that time she vetoed measures that could have helped prevent abortion.  At one time, she struck from the budget a pregnancy maintenance initiative that gave state funding to crisis pregnancy centers,” Archbishop Naumann told OSV.


Because of her stance, the archbishop explained that in August of 2007 he wrote the governor a private letter asking her not to “present herself for Communion.” 

When Sebelius continued to receive the Eucharist, Archbishop Naumann wrote a second public letter in May 2008.  He told CNA in an September 2008 interview that he had been in conversation with her for “a couple years” and that the discussions took place at “various levels.”

In today’s interview with OSV, the archbishop explained that he had a two-fold purpose for writing the letter.  First, he hoped it would trigger a conversion in Sebelius.

“One of the tragedies of this appointment, it places her where she is either going to have to go against the person who appointed her or she is going to be persisting in these positions that promote, encourage and support abortion.

“So, I’m concerned about her.”

“I think the other thing, though, that why I did what I did was to protect others from being misled by her actions and I think as a Church, those of us responsible for teaching in the Church, we have to continue to make that clear to our people that this just isn’t acceptable. It’s not a morally coherent position to say I’m personally opposed but publicly I’m going to do all of these things that support abortion.”

“Frankly after the pastoral action I did take with the governor,” the Kansas City archbishop told CNA, “there were several [people] who communicated with me that, ‘we didn’t realize how extreme she was’.”

To Archbishop Naumann’s knowledge, she has not received communion since then.


Speaking to OSV the archbishop also spoke about how he was offended that President Obama “would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head this office.”


He noted that while he can understand how Obama would select someone for his Cabinet who would encompass the values of his campaign, he said that “it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President [Joe] Biden and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress.”


Analyzing the recent nomination of Sebelius to head HHS, he noted that it is “particularly troubling” due to the importance of her influence on topics such as “conscience rights as well as health care reform.”


He explained, “One of the frightening things about the proposed health care reform could be the inclusion of abortion as a fundamental right as part of the health care package, and it could really put Catholic doctors, nurses and health care institutions in a real bind. So it’s not helpful to have someone with her record and history as the head of HHS, but I think although many people voted for President Obama, not because of his support for legalized abortion but despite it, they have to realize that in electing a president with his views, they empowered him to make these types of appointments in his administration and even more devastating, I think to our courts.”

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