Catholics for a Free Choice" Not Catholic
Catholics for a Free Choice "has no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with the Catholic Church," according to the Administrative Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The committee said that during the August visit by Pope John Paul II to World Youth Day in Denver, "programs about dissent in the Catholic Church often included a spokesperson for a group calling itself Catholics for a Free Choice. Both before and since World Youth Day, because of CFFC's presuming to speak for American Catholics and because of the attention the media have paid to the group, many people, including Catholics, may be led to believe that it is an authentic Catholic organization. It is not."
The statement said, "Catholics for a Free Choice is associated with the pro-abortion lobby in Washington, D.C. It attracts public attention by its denunciations of basic principles of Catholic morality and teaching." Most funding for CFFC "is from secular foundations supporting legal abortion in this country and abroad. It shares an address and funding sources with the National Abortion Federation, a trade association which seeks to advance the financial and professional interests of abortionists," said the committee.
In a four-page response, CFFC said the bishops' statement does not "render us any less Catholic, nor does it make our work any less worthwhile." CFFC said it "makes no claim to speak for the institutional church, rather we claim quite rightly that the positions we take reflect the view of many, often the majority, of Catholics." Denise Shannon, CFFC communications director, said the group was founded in 1973 and had a mailing list of about 13,000 people. But she said it is primarily an educational group, not a membership organization.
The bishops" committee said: "It is important to educate the public, especially Catholics, about CFFC's insistence on claiming a Catholic label. This group has rejected unity with the church on important issues of long-standing and unchanging church teaching. In fact there is no room for dissent by a Catholic from the church's moral teaching that direct abortion is a grave wrong." CFFC "can in no way speak for the Catholic Church and its 59 million members in the United States," the committee said.