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Politics

Pelosi counters Catholic bishops' criticisms on abortion

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A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has struck back against criticism from prominent Catholic prelates who accused the California congresswoman of misrepresenting church teachings about abortion.

"While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe to that view," said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.

Pelosi, the nation's highest-ranking Catholic elected official, said on "Meet the Press" Sunday (Aug. 24) that the question of when life begins is "an issue of controversy" within the church. Her comments drew rebukes from the archbishops of Denver, Washington and New York.

In a statement released Tuesday (Aug. 26), Cardinal Justin F. Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., both high-ranking officials in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Pelosi's argument was inaccurate.

"The church's moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development," Rigali and Lori said.

Catholics in Denver lobby for peace, common good

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Denver
Catholics' long tradition of caring for people, reducing suffering, providing health care, education and the basics to hold together families and communities (not to mention body and soul) has somehow gotten lost along the way. Not in actuality, but certainly in the common consciousness of American society.

“When I was growing up, I understood that this was the work of the Catholic church,” said Chris Korzen, 32, executive director of Catholics United, which describes itself as a national movement for justice, peace and the common good.

In the mainstream media, especially around election time, it has been a long time since that image of the church's public role held sway. Catholics are typically portrayed as being against abortion and gay marriage and not for much of anything relevant to public policy. Korzen's group and many others are working to refocus the lens.

Study: woman, family support linked to abortion rate drop

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A study of the effects of public policy on abortion rates during the past two decades shows that providing social and economic supports for women and family contributes to a significant reduction in abortions, according to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

The group, founded in 2005 and dedicated to “promoting awareness of the Catholic social tradition” said the findings should provide common ground for both Republicans and Democrats interested in reducing the rate of abortion in the United States.

The study was released Aug. 27 in Denver during a town hall meeting sponsored by Democrats for Life of America.

According to the study, a recent survey of women who obtained abortions showed that nearly 75 percent “cited economic hardship as a reason for obtaining an abortion; three-fourths also cited having a child as interfering with work or school, or child care responsibilities as a reason.”

Obama values draw one time Reaganite to Democratic ranks

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Denver
Once candidate Ronald Reagan was so effective in persuading voters to cross party lines that presidential candidates today still fight over the "Reagan Democrats."

As Sen. Barack Obama strives to reverse the process, turning Republicans into what he calls "Obamacans," he has an influential Reagan Republican at his side.

Not only that, but this Republican quotes St. Thomas Aquinas and follows the example of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day.

Douglas W. Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, was a former constitutional lawyer for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also served as dean of the law school at Catholic University where he personally taught all nine sections of the course on Catholic social justice teachings because students were required to take it and no one else wanted to teach it.

As he began to look into Obama's candidacy over the last year, Kmiec said, he realized, "If he were in my class on Catholic social teaching, he'd be getting an A."

Biden's Catholicism adds to ticket, but raises questions too

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Denver
Democratic vice presidential choice Sen. Joe Biden highlights his Catholic faith as a major part of his identity. And if his pro-choice stance on abortion makes him vulnerable to criticism from church leaders, his religion is also seen as boosting the chances of the ticket Democrats are ratifying in their national convention here this week.

Sen. Barack Obama's selection of the Delaware senator as his running mate in the race for the White House is likely to be very helpful in wooing undecided Catholic voters, said Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center and an expert on Catholics' role in politics.

Biden, who would become the first Catholic vice president in U.S. history, is “a solid, middle-class Catholic with working-class roots, which is exactly what the ticket needs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan -- those key swing states,” Reese said. “It's no secret that Obama had trouble getting the Catholic vote during the primaries.”

Biden VP nomination could touch off episcopal split

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Denver
News Analysis
As the Democratic National Convention opens in Denver, here’s an irony worth pondering: Perhaps the most disappointed group in America over the choice of a Roman Catholic as the party’s nominee for vice president may well be the country’s Catholic bishops.

That’s not necessarily any reflection on the personal merits of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, but rather what kind of Catholic he is, and what that means for the American bishops between now and November 4 (and perhaps for four or eight years after that).

As is well known, Biden is solidly pro-choice, which puts him at odds with official Catholic teaching on abortion. In that regard, he is akin to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, another pro-choice Catholic, whose nomination for president four years ago unleashed what came to be known colloquially as the “Wafer Wars.”

Democratic Party abortion platform discussion excerpts

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Douglas Kmiec, chair and professor of law at Pepperdine University:
I have been involved in this issue my entire professional career, as Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer and as head of the office of legal counsel for the Department of Justice. I had numerous occasions to write and to strengthen the briefing that was filed … when we asked the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade. One of the things I think is most significant about this platform is that it recognizes that there is more than one way to discourage abortion. We have been at the business of trying to find the elusive fifth vote on the Supreme Court for 30 years. We haven’t found it and even if we do find it, overturning Roe would not save a single life, but instead merely return the question to the state. While that would be important, it is not intended and never was intended to close the American mind or, for that matter, the Catholic mind to different or alternative ways to discourage abortion.

Democratic platform shift to reduce abortions commended

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New language in the Democratic Party Platform seeking a reduction in the number of abortions was hailed this week by a panel of religious and legal experts, including two long-time Republican opponents of abortion, as “historic,” and “courageous.” The new plank, the panelists said, provides “common ground” for all sides in the debate to work to lower the number of abortions.

“One of the things I think is most significant about this platform is that it recognizes that there is more than one way to discourage abortion,” said Douglas Kmiec, chair and professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University. He served as President Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer and worked on some of the briefs during that period seeking an overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Elusive fifth vote

Pro-evolution school candidates win in Ohio

By SCOTT STEPHENS

Religion News Service


CLEVELAND — Ohio’s scientists laid down their test tubes and flexed some political muscle Nov. 7 as four pro-evolution candidates they backed were on their way to capturing or retaining seats on the state Board of Education.


In the race that drew national attention, Tom Sawyer, a former Akron mayor and 16-year congressman, was beating incumbent Deborah Owens Fink nearly 2-to-1 for a board seat.


“I believe the state Board of Education should have a far stronger voice than it had,” Sawyer said Tuesday night.


State board races are nonpartisan, but Owens Fink fell victim to a strong Democratic turnout and an opponent who is a former teacher and state legislator who once was chairman of the Ohio House Education Committee.


“In reality, it’s a very, very Democratic area and a tough place to be a Republican,” she said.

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