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Sen. Daschle Censured by His Bishop April 17, 2003

US Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has been ordered by his bishop not to identify himself as a Catholic in his congressional biography and campaign documents, according to a report by the Weekly Standard magazine.

Daschle, D-South Dakota, is a member of the Sioux Falls diocese. According to the magazine, sources have revealed that Bishop Robert Carlson informed Daschle that his public stances that are contrary to the Church teachings, particularly those on abortion, constitute a grave public scandal and thus his use of the word "Catholic" to identify himself has caused a problem with ordinary Catholics. The order is not technically excommunication and, as the magazine points out, does not specifically deny Daschle access to Communion since he became ineligible almost 20 years ago when he divorced and remarried without first obtaining an annulment.

Daschle and Bishop Carlson have clashed on Church teaching in the past. During the 1997 debate over a ban on partial-birth abortion, Daschle offered a compromise that would have allowed exemptions from the ban for virtually any circumstance. Bishop Carlson called the tactic a "smokescreen" to "provide cover for pro-abortion senators and President Clinton, to avoid a veto confrontation." Daschle subsequently denounced Bishop Carlson on the floor of the Senate saying the prelate "more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership."