Catholics Can't Support 'Pro-Choicers,' Church Leaders Say

By Penny Starr | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - A statement by the Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, criticizing Hillary Clinton's speech and rally on a Catholic college campus because of her pro-abortion stance is being cheered by some Catholics and dismissed by others.

In a Feb. 12 statement about Clinton's campaign stop at St. Mary's University, Archbishop Jose Gomez, said: "The Catholic bishops of the United States, in their 2004 document Catholics in Political Life, affirmed that when dealing with political candidates and public office holders, 'The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.'"

"Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the church calls 'an unspeakable crime' and a non-negotiable issue," Gomez said.

"I think Archbishop Gomez is a courageous shepherd," the Rev. Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, told Cybercast News Service.

Henry said Catholics must support politicians based on what the politician believes.

"Clearly, promoting abortion is contrary to Catholic teaching," Henry said. "A Catholic must order their values according to a hierarchy of values and at the top of that hierarchy is the dignity of human life."

Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that a presidential candidate who supports abortion or embryonic stem cell research can't be the choice of a Catholic.

"Voters may not morally protect the so-called right to abortion in any way," Pavone told Cybercast News Service. "Therefore, they may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

"The destruction of embryos in the name of research, of course, has to also be opposed," Pavone said, adding that voters should choose a candidate who would be the least destructive when it comes to human life.

Repeated inquires for comment on this issue to Catholics for Choice were not returned by press time.

Henry said, based on Franciscan University's policy, Clinton would most likely not be invited to speak on campus.

"The (policy) says, 'The president of Franciscan University reserves the right to deny approval for any guest speaker whose appearance or remarks, in the judgment of the president, would compromise the university's mission or promote propositions and values contrary to Catholic teaching.'"

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