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Letters & Op-Eds

washington post

Abortion, Politics and Faith

Frances Kissling

22 April 2004

To the Editor:

While it is understandable that John F. Kerry makes some church leaders uncomfortable, the source of that discomfort is political, not theological ["For Catholic Politicians, a Hard Line," Outlook, April 11]. The bishops and the Vatican have limited legitimate canon law options for dealing with Catholics who disagree with church suggestions.

It is to the church's credit that, to date, most bishops have followed church rules and not imposed official sanctions on politicians who disagree on the appropriate legal approach to abortion. They understand denying Communion is not just bad politics, as the column's author, Charlotte Allen, pointed out, but bad theology. Catholics have right of access to sacraments under church law. How policymakers vote on controversial issues is not a matter of faith.

Literally hundreds of Catholic elected officials, including almost half of the 145 Catholic members of Congress, are pro-choice. While they may personally accept church teachings on abortion, they also believe that non-Catholic Americans have a right to follow their religions' teachings on abortion. Thus, they refuse to pass laws that would violate individual conscience. This is both good politics and good faith.

FRANCES KISSLING
President
Catholics for a Free Choice
Washington