Naumann v. Sebelius: The Battle of the Kansans heats up

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann devotes his weekly column to Obama’s choice of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice Catholic, to be secretary of Health and Human Services. The column pretty well summarizes his disappointment and the history of their differences, leading up to his calling on her to refrain from taking communion.

Naumann-Sebelius.jpgA spikier version of his views emerges in this interview with Our Sunday Visitor. Naumann says the 10 percent decline in abortions in Kansas cannot be attributed to her policies, and claims she distanced herself from the notorious Kansas abortionist George Tiller only when it “became politically not very convenient for her to” be associated with him.


Naumann gives Kansas’ two senators, conservative Republicans, including Catholic convert and pro-lifer Sam Brownback, a pass for supporting Sebelius:

“…in a sense I can understand that. When there is a pro-life president, we resent if there is an effort to try to prevent the president from appointing people who share his vision. So, I can understand why they might acquiesce, I guess, is the best way to put it, to her appointment.”

On the other hand, Naumann calls the 26 other prominent Catholics who came out in support of Sebelius “very, very dishonest” and adds “not very competent.”


Given the support of Brownback and Pat Roberts, the other senator from Kansas, it seems unlikely that Sebelius will not be confirmed. And Naumann, as everyone else, admits that she is an ace on health care reform, which is a priority for Obama and the Catholic Church and the country. And the HHS secretary is the point person. But with enough pushback, perhaps the confirmation hearings could turn into a scrap, or at least give Sebelius an opportinuty to clarify her record and positions on abortion rights and reduction.

Naumann appears to be becoming the champion of the anti-Sebelius push. At the Catholic League, Bill Donohue has called on Catholics to rally ’round Naumann and against Sebelius, and at, Deal Hudson sets out a three-point strategy for derailing Sebelius.


One is to get the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, “to express officially, the view of all the U. S. Catholic bishops that Gov. Sebelius should not present herself for communion at any Catholic parish, even in Washington, DC.” The second point is to get Michael Steele, a pro-life Catholic who is the new (and flailing) chairman of the Republican National Committee, to “forget about Rush Limbaugh and actually be the Republican leader of the opposition to the Sebelius nomination.”

“If Steele wants to demonstrate the GOP’s commitment to the pro-life plank of the platform then he should get out in front on this issue. The failure to exert his leadership at a moment like this will not only further diminish his leadership — after the Limbaugh stumble — but further convince religious conservatives that they really don’t have a permanent home in the Republican Party.”


Finally, Deal says Catholics should pressure the Finance Committee (which will hold the Sebelius hearings) to connect her to George Tiller, which “may create enough public disgust to make the nomination an embarrassment for Obama.”

The risks for the GOP in going along with this, Hudson says, are huge:

“I don’t think the GOP yet realizes this is quickly becoming a signal moment in its relationship with conservative Christian voters.  We will soon see if its leadership learned any lessons from the 2008 presidential campaign, and particularly its treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin.”

Can’t draw the line any clearer than that. Stay tuned…  


Comments read comments(5)
post a comment

posted March 5, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Naumann needs to butt out! She has won the approval of many Catholics (which, of course, upsets Neumann)who see her as an asset to the Obama White House. Naumann wants the Cardinal to tell her to NOT attend Mass in Washington DC? She shouldn’t be punished for thinking her own thoughts…even though she is Catholic.

report abuse

Little Bear

posted March 5, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Archbishop Naumann needs to get out of politics—and focus his time on helping people who are losing their jobs, homes, insurance and hope. At this stage in religious development in America—a Bishop would do well to kick his soapbox aside, and get on his knees in service.
Also, I am hoping that Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, does not enforce the “No Communion” ban. Those in political office NEED Holy Communion—not to be denied it.

report abuse

Your Name

posted March 6, 2009 at 9:43 am

Archbishop Naumann is absolutely correct in encouraging Catholics to oppose Sebelius’s appointment. It’s about time we stand up to these politicians who like to call themselves Catholic and in practice aren’t Catholic at all.I, for one, have written to Archbishop Naumann to excommunicate Sebelius. If she wants to dance with the devil, let her do it as an excommunicated Catholic.

report abuse


posted March 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

Your Name:
The church really has no business butting into politics. It’s called “separation of church and state”. A Catholic politician, like all politicians, have to do what she/he thinks is right for the people they represent….and since the whole world, or in this case the whole USA, isn’t Catholic (fortunately) then the politician shouldn’t be doing the wishes of some bishop, or cardinal or minister. And it seems that there are many Catholics who respect Sebelius’s handling of the abortion issue in Kansas…thinking Catholics…not robot ones. The church doesn’t seem to like those who don’t agree with everything it says. It’s 2009 folks, thinking is good.

report abuse

Greg M

posted March 6, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Not really a battle. Sebelius doesn’t dispute that Archbishop Naumann is entitled to speak for the Church. And that the Supreme Court is entitled to speak for the Constitution. Naumann may confuse the two, but Sebelius and the rest of us don’t.
Catholics are a minority in this country. If any religion gets to make its doctrine law, it won’t be the Roman Catholic Church.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!   ...

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks... recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That ...

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored ...

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, ...

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's ...

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.