Friday, November 14, 2008

Bishop - Catholics Should Defend Life

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Zubik urges Catholics to defend right-to-life stance

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said Thursday he will urge local Roman Catholics to fight any effort to expand abortion rights across the country.

"That is part of the beauty of being citizens of the United States," Zubik said. "We can speak to our legislators and let them know, as Catholics, where we are coming from."

Zubik returned from this week's U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, where about 300 bishops adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and drafted a document asking President-elect Barack Obama not to erode gains made by right-to-life supporters. "We really felt that it was important for a statement to come out as soon as possible," Zubik said in a phone interview.

The bishops are concerned that Obama and a majority of pro-choice Democrats in Congress might approve the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which would override state-by-state limits on when a woman can abort a pregnancy, Zubik said.

That could eliminate "freedom of conscience" clauses for doctors who refuse to perform an abortion and limits against late-term and partial-birth abortions.

Pittsburgh Catholics should call their lawmakers to voice opposition to the proposal, Zubik said. But that stance could set church leaders against supporters of Obama, who has said he would sign the act into law if Congress passes it.

Nationwide, Catholics supported Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain by 54 percent to 45 percent, according to a CNN exit poll. In Pennsylvania, a pre-election Franklin & Marshall College poll showed Obama with a similar lead among Catholics who were likely voters.
Fifty-seven percent of Allegheny County voters chose Obama, compared to 41 percent who voted for McCain.

Zubik said he would not punish vocal Obama supporters by refusing them sacraments such as communion, but said he understands and respects bishops who are taking such positions.
"They are perfectly within their right to do that," he said.

Zubik said Catholics ultimately will be judged by how much they embraced the teachings of the faith.

"What I always tell people is this: 'If you make a decision, you have to imagine yourself looking at God eyeball to eyeball,' " Zubik said. "I think, in the end, we are all going to be judged by how sincere we were with God and how much we embraced the teachings of our faith."

Locally, perhaps no devout Catholic was a more outspoken supporter of Obama than Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, who appeared at a rally with Obama and gave him a Steelers jersey a week before the election. Rooney could not be reached for comment.

The bishop might not be judgmental, but Rooney might have to make amends with one of his brothers.

Pat Rooney, one of five Rooney brothers who own shares in the Steelers, said he hopes Dan Rooney's influence and the Steelers brand name did not sway Catholic voters. He questioned how Catholics could balance a religious obligation to oppose abortion with a political inclination for a pro-choice president.

"We can't be smorgasbord Catholics, because morality cannot be negotiated," Pat Rooney said.
In politics, conflicts between governing and staying true to faith long have shadowed Catholics elected to public office.

No comments: