Both Sanchez and Sharp are Catholics who say they personally oppose abortion but support a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. "That's being schizophrenic about it," Bishop Carmody said Monday. "That's saying, `In my own home, I respect life, but when I'm in public office, I'm going to go with the pack.' " The Sanchez and Sharp campaigns refused to comment Tuesday.
Under guidelines in effect in the south Texas diocese since 1999, Catholics who declare themselves in support of abortion rights cannot hold church positions or speak at any Catholic institutions in the region. The issue could be important because the Catholic Church is influential in many Hispanic communities, and Democrats' chances this year may depend on their ability to attract a record number of Hispanic voters.
Texas Hispanics have historically supported Democratic candidates, almost all of whom have favored abortion rights. Republican Gov. Rick Perry said he believes abortion should be legal only in cases of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy threatens the woman's life.