Benedictions: The Pope in America

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City has said that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius–a Democrat, Catholic, and abortion rights supporter whose name has been mentioned as a possible Obama running mate–should stop receiving communion. The action, outlined in Naumann’s May 9 column in The Leaven, the archdiocesan weekly, was triggered by Sebelius’ veto of a bill called the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, which passed both state houses.
Naumann and Sebelius have a long record of discussing and disagreeing on this issue, and it is no coincidence that the action comes right after Pope Benedict’s visit and New York Cardinal Egan’s rebuke to Rudy Giuliani, another pro-choice Catholic who took communion–apparently against an agreement he had with Egan–and at a papal mass, no less. The move also comes as Barack Obama, now the virtual Democratic nominee, is coming under increasing fire for his strong abortion rights stands. At one time Sebelius might have been an attractive running mate. But given Obama’s struggle with Catholic voters and regular church attenders, and his own abortion rights record, this dust-up may put the Kansan out of the running. Or not.
The issue is an interesting one, with many chapters, and it is worth reading Naumann’s column in full. Sebelius, in her veto message, apparently noted that policies she backs have brought down the abortion rate in Kansas, which has become a center for out-of-state abortions and late-term abortions. But Naumann also notes that, incredibly, Sebelius has been taking political donations from Wichita’s famous abortionist, George Tiller, who is, as the archbishops says, “perhaps the most notorious late-term abortionist in the nation.”
Naumann also says he wrote to Sebelius last August asking her to stop receiving communion, but apparently she received recently at an unnamed parish, prompting this public column. Sounds like fodder for a bracing debate. Naumann says Sebelius cannot receive until she “acknowledged the error of her past positions, made a worthy sacramental confession and taken the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.”
Hardly sounds likely. The Kansas City Star also has coverage.

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