Denver archbishop attacks Biden's stance on abortion


US:A PROMINENT Catholic archbishop in the US has criticised the stance of Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden on abortion and has dismissed as "a morally-exhausted argument" the view "that Catholics can't 'impose' their religiously-based views on the rest of the country", writes Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent.

In a letter to local Catholics, the Archbishop of Denver, the Most Rev Charles Chaput, criticised comments by Senator Biden made during an NBC Meet the Pressinterview last Sunday.

Mr Biden said that, as a Catholic, he believed life began at conception but would not impose his personal views on others. He agreed he had voted against curtailing abortion rights and against criminalising abortion.

Dr Chaput said Mr Biden's "strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs Wade and the false 'right' to abortion it enshrines, can't be excused by any serious Catholic".

He accused the senator of using "a morally-exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: ie, that Catholics can't 'impose' their religiously-based views on the rest of the country.

"But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion, and the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law."

Dr Chaput continued: "American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their 'pro-choice' beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades."

He accused Mr Biden of confusing the nature of pluralism.

"Real pluralism thrives on healthy, non-violent disagreement; it requires an environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigorously to advance their beliefs.

"In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion.

"It's certainly true that we need to acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible - but not at the expense of a developing child's right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil.

"It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always grievously wrong," he said.

The archbishop also criticised comments made on Meet the Pressby leading Democrat, US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi. Ms Pelosi, "describing herself as an ardent practising Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show's nationwide audience, while defending her 'pro-choice' abortion views."

Ms Pelosi had already been condemned by 10 other US Catholic bishops following that interview.

At the end of August, Dr Chaput said Mr Biden should avoid taking Communion because of his stand.

In the 2004 US presidential election campaign, more than a dozen Catholic bishops, including Dr Chaput, asked the Democrat candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, not to present himself for Communion because of his pro-choice stance.

President George W Bush's share of the Catholic vote increased from 47 per cent in 2000 to 52 per cent in 2004.

With a population of 67 million in the US, Catholics are now its single largest religious voting bloc. Packed into electorally crucial states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, their support has become essential for anyone seeking the White House.