Church in public arena: prays, teaches, speaks out Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 -- 1:00 AM

Several readers of the Catholic Herald contacted our office last week expressing dismay that our paper carried Catholic News Service articles about Catholic bishops and Pope Benedict XVI congratulating President-elect Barack Obama and offering prayers for him. The readers seemed to think the articles indicated an endorsement of Obama and all of his views, particularly his support of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

First of all, I feel that the articles were appropriate to publish in the Catholic Herald, although perhaps the top headline could have indicated more clearly the content of the article. The story included warnings about Obama’s stance on abortion.

The main article on the front page featured comments from Cardinal Francis E. George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal George’s entire statement at the U.S. bishops’ meeting last week was also published on Page 3 in its entirety in our November 13th issue. 

Bishops and pope do not compromise teaching

In both the article on Page 1 and the statement on Page 3, Cardinal George makes it very clear that the bishops stand ready to work with Obama “in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person.”  The bishops did not back down or compromise their teaching.

However, Catholic bishops and the Holy Father himself always communicate with the leaders of nations in the world, especially with the leader of the United States of America. Catholic leaders accept the results of democratic elections, support a peaceful transition, and seek to work with these leaders. The pope prayed that “the blessings of God would sustain him (Obama) and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity, and justice.”

Are some of our readers objecting to the words of our Catholic bishops and the Holy Father himself? As Catholics, aren't we obliged to listen to — and accept — the teaching of our Church's leaders? Or do we pick and choose what we want to hear?

Bishops oppose Freedom of Choice Act

While they congratulate and pray for our new leaders, when dealing with those in the public arena, the bishops and the pope will continue to teach, speak out on issues of concern to Catholics and all people of good will, and work for the common good.

The bishops didn’t waste any time. At their meeting last week, the bishops approved a statement written under the supervision of Cardinal George (see article on front page of this week’s Web site and link to the entire statement) in which they expressed their fears about laws and changes in regulations of abortion that might occur under a new Democratic-run Congress and White House. The bishops are especially concerned about possible passage of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), calling it “an evil law that would further divide our country.”

The bishops are urging people to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) to contact their representatives and senators to oppose FOCA. The bishops' Web site ( gives reasons why we should oppose FOCA:

• It would eliminate regulations that protect women from unsafe abortion clinics.

• It forces taxpayers to fund abortions.

• It requires all states to allow “partial-birth” and other late-term abortions.

• It violates the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals.

• It strips parents of their right to be involved in their minor daughters’ abortion decision.

During the presidential debate at Hofstra University, candidate Obama said he thinks abortion “is always a tragic situation.” However, he has told Planned Parenthood that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

The FOCA has to pass both houses of Congress before it gets to the president. Concerned citizens must let their representatives and senators know they oppose the Freedom of Choice Act. And we must let President-elect Obama know we do NOT want him to sign this bill into law.

And, yes, we do need to pray for our elected leaders, including our president. Whether we voted for him or not, he is the president. But we must continue to make our views heard and encourage him to protect all human rights, especially the rights of the unborn.