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sebelius.jpgYes, she’s Catholic. But will Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’s John Kerry-like silence about her Catholicism and its influence on her politics make Barack Obama less likely to pick her as a running mate? Michael Sean Winters, writing at The New Republic, thinks it might:

Sebelius attended a Catholic women’s college, but she has not made her Catholicism a central part of her political biography. She has stated that her religious beliefs are private, a position that liberal Catholics have been taking ever since JFK. When she gave the Democratic response to the last State of the Union in January, she did not mention her own faith or the nation’s, and she didn’t describe any of the challenges facing the nation as moral challenges. This reticence to apply her faith to her political life has a downside: It has severely limited her ability to articulate a moral rationale for her commitment to other issues such as universal health care, which the Catholic Church considers a moral obligation that society owes its members.
Beyond her decision not to “speak Catholic,” Sebelius has a politically thorny relationship with her bishop. In April, she vetoed legislation that would have beefed up efforts to enforce restrictions on abortion providers in Kansas. The law was aimed squarely at Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation’s fiercest defenders of late-term abortions. Sebelius said she vetoed the law because it was clearly unconstitutional and would invite frivolous lawsuits, a position that was supported by the Kansas City Star and various women’s organizations. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City–Sebelius’s own bishop–saw it differently: He went public with his request that the governor refrain from presenting herself for communion. In a column in his diocesan paper, the archbishop called her behavior “scandalous” before going on to say, “The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high-profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: ‘The church’s teaching on abortion is optional.'” Sebelius did not offer any public response to the archbishop’s edict.


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