Philadelphia Archbishop on Abortion: ‘We’re Catholics Before We’re Democrats ... Before We're Republicans'

By Jon Street | October 26, 2012 | 2:14 PM EDT

Catholics attending Mass. (AP Photo.)

( – Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput said that the issue of abortion requires that Catholics be loyal to the church before their political party and their country.

“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans, because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us. And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,” Chaput told Catholic News Service on Oct. 20.

The archbishop’s statement comes days before the elections that will likely decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which mandates that nearly all employers offer health insurance programs that provide free abortion-inducing drugs through a system of cost-sharing.

The archbishop added that consider oneself to be Catholic before American doesn’t mean one is not being a good citizen, adding that “good citizens means giving God his rights prior to the government making its claims upon us.”

“If we don’t stand united on this issue, we’re bound to failure not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom,” Chaput said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, or the doctrine to which the church adheres, reads in part, "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous. The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator…The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.”

Chaput voiced criticisms of both the Democrat and Republican Parties saying that, “You can’t trust the Republicans to be pro-life 20 years from now. You can’t let any party take your vote for granted. And that’s unfortunately what’s happened. I think many of the Democrats have [taken] Democrat Catholic votes for granted because they’ll go with them no matter what the party position might be on abortion.”

“So we just have to be insistent on that. Catholic identity takes precedence over everything,” Chaput added.