US cardinal: Catholic church must speak louder against abortion
Oct 12, 2007
The retired archbishop of Washington said Thursday that the prospect of both major party presidential candidates favoring abortion rights is evidence the Catholic Church must more forcefully preach on the issue.
(The Associated Press, October 11, 2007) MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick called for persuading pro-choice Catholic politicians rather than refusing them communion, as another high-profile prelate, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, has advocated.
"I very much respect his position," McCarrick said in an interview with The Associated Press at St. Thomas University here. "It's not mine."
The communion issue gained attention during the 2004 presidential campaign, when Democratic Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, sought the White House. Burke said he would deny the Eucharist to the Massachusetts senator.
The issue came up again last week as the 2008 campaign heated up. Burke did not name names, but it appeared he was focusing on Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, who is pro-choice and Catholic.
Regardless, McCarrick said no candidate would fall fully in line with church teaching, leaving Catholics to examine their consciences to make their choice. He said abortion and other right-to-life issues such as euthanasia and the death penalty were bedrock teachings, but do not fully encompass Catholic beliefs.
"You cannot be authentically Catholic if you do not support life, yet it is not enough just to support life, you have to go beyond that," the cardinal said. "To really be authentically Catholic, you need it and the family rights, the right to education, the right to take care of the poor, the right of migrants."
Jon O'Brien, the president of Catholics for a Free Choice, which supports abortion rights and contraception, rejected the cardinal's comments on abortion.
"McCarrick got it wrong," O'Brien said. "In Catholicism, once you are baptized, you are authentically Catholic. We don't have a litmus test that people take."
Catholics make up one-quarter of the electorate in the United States, but surveys indicate that most do not choose candidates based on their position on abortion.
McCarrick, 77, stepped down from the Archdiocese of Washington last year, but he is still active in varied church issues and a member of the College of Cardinals. In the interview, he also said the U.S. must do more to accommodate Iraqi refugees, who have left that country by the millions, and expressed support for the politicians who invoke God on the campaign trail.