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North Dakota politician rips bishop, quotes leaked letter

Catholic World News - October 24, 2012

A North Dakota politician who was trounced in the 2008 gubernatorial election blasted Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, stating that the prelate “engages in partisan politics and damages the bounds of personal conscience, the Church's role in building the common good, and the non-profit status of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.”

State Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat and former seminarian who was defeated by a 74%-24% margin in the 2008 gubernatorial election, issued a five-page statement after receiving a leaked copy of a letter that will be read in all North Dakota parishes this weekend. In the letter, Bishop Kagan, as quoted by Mathern, states that:

...there are some actions that are never acceptable and should not be made so by law, they include: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and not recognizing the unique and special role of marriage as the union of one man and one woman … In this election year, the positions of the two political parties and the positions of their candidates are well known. What I ask each of you to do before you vote is to consider carefully what our Catholic Church teaches about these issues, then consider how your vote for a particular candidate will contribute to the common good of us all as persons with that human dignity which must be respected and protected always.

“I ask you to vote for the candidates who represent you as Catholic citizens,” Bishop Kagan reportedly adds. “Please do not vote for the candidate who is most likeable.”

Mathern said that North Dakotans view Democratic senatorial candidate Heidi Heitkamp as the “likeable candidate,” and that Bishop Kagan’s words thus constitute an endorsement of her Republican opponent.

“Endorsement of a political candidate, either by inference or direct statement, serves to disenfranchise, discourage, and even, to some, harm,” Mathern said. “He [Bishop Kagan] then indicates who not to vote for. As a condition of non-profit status, the United States Internal Revenue Service tax codes prohibit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate.”

“I urge Bishop Kagan to withdraw his letter due to its infringement on the Primacy of Conscience, its effects on parishioners and the common good, and its violation of proper conduct for non-profits,” Mathern added.

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: impossible - Oct. 26, 2012 12:06 AM ET USA

    When are we going to force a serious discussion about the illegality of Lyndon Johnson's unconstitutional use of the IRS to manufacture the phony separation of church and state for the purpose of muzzling churches, except for Black churches who favor Democrats? Johnson didn't have authority to take away freedom of speech of anyone or any group.

  • Posted by: doceo4186 - Oct. 25, 2012 2:12 PM ET USA

    Hartwood...better to lose our tax exempt status than our souls... If that is what is keeping the facade alive, then hang the status! (And all the government control that goes with their money)

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Oct. 24, 2012 8:59 PM ET USA

    The American Church is all but telling Catholics to vote for Romney. Our Deacon gave a sermon on voting for fiscal responsibility,not looking for handouts...all the code words for the Republican ticket and he received a thunderous ovation from the well-attended daily mass-goers of our largely wealthy congregation. They all knew who he was talking about. Surely his actions will endanger our tax-exempt status

  • Posted by: Ken - Oct. 24, 2012 6:54 PM ET USA

    We all know Southern minority churches have been doing this for decades. Democrats didn't mind that because the church leaders were openly telling their congregations to vote for the Domocratic candidate. Funny how they suddenly have concerns with the non-profit status of churches disucssing politics.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 24, 2012 3:04 PM ET USA

    This is only the first in a series of intimidations of good bishops.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Oct. 24, 2012 2:44 PM ET USA

    Kudos to Bp. Kagan. Casting Heidi as 'the likeable candidate' Mathern makes it all sound like a High School popularity contest. The degradation of American culture continues apace.

  • Posted by: williiam ronner - Oct. 24, 2012 2:36 PM ET USA

    Go, Bishop!

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