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Archbishop Chaput on Kmiec and the elections

DENVER, Colorado, OCT. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Charles Chaput says Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec "couldn't be more mistaken" in comparing his own moral reasoning regarding the 2008 presidential election to that of the archbishop.

Archbishop Chaput said this tonight at a dinner sponsored by ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women). The talk, which he said reflects his own opinion as a private citizen, is titled "Little Murders."  The prelate spoke at length of Douglas Kmiec's book "Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama," in which the Pepperdine law professor argues why Catholics should cast their vote in November's presidential election for Senator Barack Obama.

Kmiec publicly endorsed the Democratic candidate earlier this year, stating in an article for Slate that Obama is a "natural" for Catholic voters.

Archbishop Chaput noted that his own book, "Render Unto Caesar," was heavily cited by Kmiec in his defense of Obama: "In fact, he suggests that his reasoning and mine are 'not far distant on the moral inquiry necessary in the election of 2008.'"

"Unfortunately, he either misunderstands or misuses my words, and he couldn't be more mistaken," said the archbishop.

No regrets

"I believe that Senator Obama, whatever his other talents, is the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973," he added. "Despite what [...] Kmiec suggests, the party platform Senator Obama runs on this year is not only aggressively 'pro-choice;' it has also removed any suggestion that killing an unborn child might be a regrettable thing."

The prelate affirmed that the platform of the Democratic Party that emerged from its national convention in August "is clearly anti-life."

"Kmiec argues that there are defensible motives to support Senator Obama," continued Archbishop Chaput. "Speaking for myself, I do not know any proportionate reason that could outweigh more than 40 million unborn children killed by abortion and the many millions of women deeply wounded by the loss and regret abortion creates."

The prelate continued: "To suggest -- as some Catholics do -- that Senator Obama is this year's 'real' pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse.

"To portray the 2008 Democratic Party presidential ticket as the preferred 'pro-life' option is to subvert what the word 'pro-life' means."

Archbishop Chaput said he thought Kmiec's endorsement of Obama has "done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn."

Uncomfortable

"The truth is that for some Catholics, the abortion issue has never been a comfortable cause," said the Denver prelate. "It's embarrassing. It's not the kind of social justice they like to talk about. It interferes with their natural political alliances.

"And because the homicides involved in abortion are 'little murders' -- the kind of private, legally protected murders that kill conveniently unseen lives -- it's easy to look the other way."

The archbishop called it "wrong and often dishonest [...] to neutralize the witness of bishops and the pro-life movement by offering a 'Catholic' alternative to the Church's priority on sanctity of life issues."

"As I suggest throughout 'Render Unto Caesar,' it's important for Catholics to be people of faith who pursue politics to achieve justice; not people of politics who use and misuse faith to achieve power," he said.

Archbishop Chaput lamented that for 35 years he's watched the pro-abortion lobby fight tooth-and-nail against the pro-life movement: "Apparently they believe in their convictions more than some of us Catholics believe in ours.  And I think that's an indictment of an entire generation of American Catholic leadership."

The prelate continued by affirming that being pro-life is much deeper than looking to overturn Roe v. Wade, or being a "single issue" voter: "The cornerstone of Catholic social teaching is protecting human life from
conception to natural death. [...] Every other human right depends on the right to life."

He added: "So I think that people who claim that the abortion struggle is 'lost' as a matter of law, or that supporting an outspoken defender of legal abortion is somehow 'pro-life,' are not just wrong; they're betraying the witness of every person who continues the work of defending the unborn child.

"And I hope they know how to explain that, because someday they'll be required to."

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