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Below are some statistics on Hispanics' and non-Hispanics' views on abortion and other social issues and an article from the Seattle Times on John Kerry's, a practicing Catholic, support for abortion in opposition to his faith and the mainstream views of Hispanics.
Pedro Celis, Ph.D.
Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Washington State Chairman


Saturday, April 24, 2004, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

Pro-choice politicians 'not fit' for communion, Vatican says

By Daniel Williams and Alan Cooperman

The Washington Post

ROME — A top Vatican official yesterday said Roman Catholic politicians who support abortion should be denied communion, as church officials in the United States debate how to respond to presumptive Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's position in favor of abortion rights.

The official, Cardinal Francis Arinze, declined at a Vatican news conference to say whether Sen. Kerry, D-Mass., should be denied communion. Instead, he spoke generally about Catholic politicians who do not uphold church teachings in their public lives.

Arinze, a Nigerian often cited as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II, took questions during the introduction of Vatican rules governing the celebration of Mass. Pressed to say whether a politician who is "unambiguously pro-abortion" should receive the Eucharist, he said, "Objectively, the answer is clear. The person is not fit. If he shouldn't receive it, then it shouldn't be given."

But Arinze also made clear that decisions on whether to deny communion to Kerry and other U.S. politicians would be made by the U.S. Catholic bishops, not by the Vatican. "The norm of the church is clear," he said. "The Catholic Church exists in the United States, and there are bishops there. Let them interpret it."

Catholics and abortion


Among U.S. Catholics, 56 percent of non-Hispanics and 59 percent of Hispanics oppose making it more difficult for a woman to have an abortion, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center says.

Support for additional restrictions increases among Catholics who attend church at least once a week, with 50 percent of non-Hispanics favoring further restrictions and 43 percent of Hispanics.

— The Associated Press

A spokesman for Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley said Kerry, a former altar boy, has not been barred from taking communion in his hometown, and he indicated that no ban is likely.

"The position of Archbishop O'Malley has been that when people come forward to receive communion, we give them communion," said the spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne. "The moment of communion is not the moment in which to raise the question of whether someone should or should not be receiving it."

Coyne said that it would be appropriate for a priest or bishop to counsel a politician whose positions are contrary to church teachings. "But this is something that's handled privately with the Catholic," he said. "It's not something where you would make any kind of public action or public statement to withhold communion."

That appears to be in keeping with the approach of the vast majority of U.S. bishops, although a few have threatened publicly to withhold communion from certain politicians. Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said in January that he would deny communion to Kerry. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who met privately with Kerry last week, "is reluctant to use the Eucharist as a sanction," according to his spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs.

Although abortion divides members of the Catholic Church, any sanction by priests could be politically damaging to Kerry, who hopes to secure the Catholic vote in the November election.

Clashes between faith and public policy are nothing new; President Bush has disagreed with United Methodist Church bishops, who disapprove of the Iraq war.

The Kerry campaign steered clear of responding directly to Arinze's remarks and issued a statement saying, "Senator Kerry agrees with President Kennedy when he said, 'I do not speak for my church on public matters, and my church does not speak for me.' "

Kerry, who has said he personally opposes abortion but supports a woman's right to choose, reiterated that position yesterday at a rally with women's rights activists who are gathering in Washington for a march tomorrow.

"I believe that in the year 2004 we deserve a president who understands that a stronger America is where women's rights are just that: rights, not political weapons to be used by politicians of this nation," he said.

A Bush campaign spokesman, Steve Schmidt, countered that Kerry's views on abortion were "outside the mainstream."

Pope John Paul II has said it is the duty of Catholic politicians to adhere to Church doctrine in setting public policy, although he has not laid down guidelines for sanctioning those who ignore Vatican teaching.

Cooperman reported from Washington; the Bush campaign response was provided by The Associated Press; other background from Knight Ridder Newspapers is included.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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Copyright 2004 Washington Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Last modified: 04/25/04