In his “As I see it” column “Why Gov. Sebelius should refrain from Communion” (3/15, Opinion), Archbishop Joseph A. Naumann does not ecclesiastically ex-communicate the Kansas governor, as he could have done. Instead, he blusters and lectures.
One of the wonderful things about America is that all religions are free to promulgate their doctrines. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and even atheists and Scientologists each claim, to one degree or another, to have the one and only truth that can lead to salvation or to a successful life. Adherents to these groups may accept these various claims to one degree or another.
Many of my Catholic friends saw the bishop’s remarks as way out of line. As for me, I celebrate that whenever a religious partisan tries in this public way to influence public policy, we citizens are free to challenge, criticize and disagree.
Richard M. Childs
As the highest teaching authority in his diocese, Archbishop Naumann is compelled to defend the integrity of the sacraments of his church and, in accordance with his conscience, label such practices as gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research and abortion as “intrinsic evils.” Gov. Sebelius, on the other hand, represents all the citizens of Kansas, many of whom do not the share the faith or the interpretations of the faith’s teachings as pronounced by the archbishop.
The archbishop apparently feels that to be a Catholic by his standards, the governor must vet all her votes and policy positions by his standards, or not go to Communion. The archbishop is not God, nor is the Catholic faith the only path to God. The governor needs to find another teaching authority within her faith more compatible with her responsibilities as governor or find another path to God.
Although I greatly respect most ministers, I’ve had a long policy of not voting for any to public office. Why? I believe it creates for them moral and ethical dilemmas when there are conflicts between their personal views and their constituents.
I don’t believe that one votes for the person and then they owe us their best judgment and can vote their conscience. I believe that all elected officials should set aside their beliefs and strictly represent the views of their constituents. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t stand for election and ask for my vote.
The views of Catholic bishops Joseph Naumann, Robert Finn and others about elected Catholic officials greatly concern me. I’ve never had an issue voting for Catholics for public office until now, but if Naumann and Finn have their way, I would have to reconsider and probably no longer support any Catholics for public office.
This isn’t personal or religious. I just believe it’s wrong of them to cross the line into public politics. I certainly think that Naumann’s and Finn’s comments should come at a price by losing their dioceses’ tax exemptions.