In an interview with the Catholic News Service (CNS), Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput minced no words when advising Catholic voters that their loyalty must be to God and the Church first when it comes to hot button issues such as abortion.
“(Abortion) really is a big issue today, and I think what it requires of Catholics is a loyalty to the church prior to their political party,” Archbishop Chaput told CNS on Oct. 20 in Rome.
“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans,” he said. “We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans, because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us. And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries.”
However, he said, “That doesn’t mean we’re not being good citizens because being good citizens means giving God his rights prior to the government making its claims upon us.”
Our Church teaches that abortion is “gravely contrary to the moral law” in all cases. Under canon law, any “formal cooperation” in abortion automatically incurs the penalty of excommunication.
“If we don’t stand united on this issue, we’re bound to failure,” Chaput said, “not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom.”
He also expressed his belief that the divisiveness among Catholics on this issue is what allowed abortion “rights” to become part of the Democratic platform.
“Catholics have been historically part of the Democrat Party in great numbers, and I think really could’ve stopped that great development, movement, if they tried, but they didn’t in order to accommodate people from the other side of the issue,” he said.
The opposition to abortion must transcend party affiliation and be embraced by both Democrats and Republications, he said.
“You can’t trust the Republicans to be pro-life 20 years from now. You can’t let any party take your vote for granted. And that’s unfortunately what’s happened. I think many of the Democrats have (taken) Democrat Catholic votes for granted because they’ll go with them no matter what the party position might be on abortion.”
He added: “That’s why the position of the Democrat Party has gotten worse, and worse, and worse as time goes on, because Catholics haven’t abandoned them as they’ve moved in that direction,” the archbishop said. “So we just have to be insistent on that, Catholic identity takes precedence over everything.”
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