(Correction: Fixes the name of Eternal Word Television Network.)
White House (CNSNews.com) - Catholics in America cannot vote for a presidential candidate or any politician who explicitly and clearly supports abortion, according to Rev. George Rutler, who attended Wednesday's White House welcoming of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.
"The church position has been very clear on this, and the pope has been very clear on this," Rutler, who holds a doctorate in sacred theology and hosts a weekly program on Eternal Word Television Network, told Cybercast News Service. "One cannot do anything deliberately to promote evil or support someone who does.
"It's one thing to have a politician who says he's against abortion but is rather passive" about it, "and another one who is aggressively in support of it," said Rutler, pastor of Church of Our Savior in New York City. "What is more, you certainly cannot vote for anyone who aggressively promotes abortion as though it were a legitimate right."
An estimated 13,500 people gathered on the South Lawn of the White House to greet Joseph Ratzinger, who is making his first visit to the United States as Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II.
Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005.
In his welcome to the pope, President Bush did not address abortion specifically but said: "In a world where some treat life as something to be debased and discarded, we need your message that all human life is sacred and that 'each of us is willed, each of us is loved, and each of us is necessary.'"
The pope also did not speak on any issues in detail or specifics, but he referenced the Founding Fathers and said that American society has grown from a foundation "linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the creator" and that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights "grounded in the laws of nature and nature's God."
"The church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God," said the pope.
Numerous bishops, priests and leaders of other religions attended the ceremony, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and many current and former members of Congress, as well as the thousands of spectators and hundreds of media personnel.
After the event, former Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Calif.), a pro-life Catholic, spoke with Cybercast News Service. As to whether a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion presidential candidate, Dornan said, "Absolutely not." He then queried a priest nearby, Rev. Bill Scorcese, about the topic.
"Am I right or wrong?" Dornan asked. Scorcese said a Catholic, in general, could not vote "for someone, because they are pro-abortion or pro-homosexual rights - they can't do that."
As for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dornan said: "He's not really a pro-lifer. I served with him. I couldn't get him to speak, sign on, do anything" for the pro-life cause.
When asked whether American Catholics could vote for a presidential candidate who supports abortion, Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane did not answer directly but instead told Cybercast News Service that people should read the Catholic Church documents on the issue.
Similarly, Archbishop Jose Gomez, of San Antonio, Texas, said: "I prefer not to comment. You need to look at the documents of the Papal See [Vatican] ... This is not the place to talk about that. It is a very complicated issue."
Make media inquiries or request an interview about this article.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Michael Chapman
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.