The Rev. Bennett Voorhies said guidelines probably are forthcoming in the aftermath of a flier detailing the abortion records of the state's gubernatorial candidates. Voorhies, archdiocese chancellor, wouldn't give details of what ground rules were under consideration, but said officials are "definitely working on that."
The controversy unfolded when Holy Child Parish in Tijeras added a paragraph to an archdiocese-approved flier that compared the abortion voting records of Republican candidate John Sanchez and Democratic candidate Bill Richardson. The flier listed Sanchez's record "as 100 percent pro life." The added paragraph said "Richardson's record shows a lack of respect for human life. As governor, he would not serve the people of New Mexico on the life issues any better than he did as a congressman."
"We certainly never gave any permission for that," Voorhies said of the altered flier. "That's why it's made it look so bad on us because people think that's the one we sent out, and it's not."
The Journal reported last week that the archdiocese had approved the version blasting Richardson, but Voorhies said this week that was not true. "The archdiocese of Santa Fe does not endorse candidates," he said. Voorhies apologized last week to anyone who might have construed the fliers as an endorsement.
Holy Family pastor the Rev. Scott Mansfield said Monday the volatile paragraph was a mistake. A parish typist inserted the information from a June fund-raising letter for the Right to Life group. Mansfield said he took responsibility for the "mix-up and confusion" between himself and the typist who made the changes. He said he should have checked the flier before it was copied for distribution.
The altered flier, which was included in the weekly church bulletin, was given to many of the parish's 1,800 members at Masses on Oct. 19-20.
Voorhies said he initially sent a letter and flier to the parishes on Sept. 27 to clear up questions priests might have about distributing political material at churches. The letter warned pastors not to endorse any particular candidate because of Internal Revenue Service guidelines dealing with tax-exempt organizations. But each priest could distribute the voting record flier as he saw fit, Voorhies said. Thousands of the Right to Life group's fliers have been passed out in churches across the archdiocese this month.