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American bishops comment on Sen. Obama’s victory

November 06, 2008

Echoing sentiments expressed by Cardinal Francis George in his capacity as president of the United Conference of Catholic Bishops, individual bishops offered prayers for President-elect Barack Obama while making reference to the sanctity of life.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, issued a statement: ‘We offer our prayers today for our nation and for our newly elected leaders, including President-elect Obama, as they take on their new responsibilities. We recognize that this election of the first African-American president is an historic moment in our nation’s history and we rejoice with the rest of our nation in the significance of this time. May our nation’s new leaders be guided in their decisions with wisdom and compassion and at the heart of all of their decisions may there be a deep respect for and commitment to the sanctity and dignity of all human life and support for the most vulnerable among us.’

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, told Vatican Radio that President-elect Obama is an ‘intelligent man’ who can ‘move a group with his vision.’ Nonetheless, speaking of ‘the horror of 40 to 50 million aborted babies,’ Bishop Murphy said ‘this is a tremendously dark stain on the American nation and contradicts what we claim to be-- a people for whom liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness, which means founded on life, is allowed, is given to everyone.’ He added that the ‘bishops will be urging him to rethink this. We will be urging him not to ignite further cultural divisions and dividing the country further on this most important issue … [We will] urge him to rethink those positions and to try to reflect the widespread feeling that abortion on demand is not a good thing in itself, because it kills children, and that it’s not a good thing for our country because it cuts at the very core of a good society.’

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the US bishops’ committee that wrote the 2007 statement Faithful Citizenship, says it will be difficult for impassioned supporters of the two leading presidential candidates to reconcile. While all should cease ‘looking for the worst in the other,’ Bishop DiMarzio told Catholic News Service that ‘there’s no compromise and no easy way around’ the obligation to oppose intrinsic evils like abortion and that ‘there’s ways on how we can limit an intrinsic evil and we should take those steps.’ In an apparent reference to Catholic support for President-elect Obama, he added, ‘There’s a culture of death you are supporting and it’s not going to go away. We are going to have a hard time reconciling.’

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, in a letter to Public Discourse, challenged Douglas Kmiec, a prominent Catholic law professor, to justify his public support for the Obama campaign. "Prof. Kmiec has a unique opportunity to press a newly elected President Obama to reconsider his most extreme positions," the archbishop said, listing Obama's promises to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, to authorize 'therapeutic' human cloning, and to appoint only judges who would preserve legal abortion.


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