Albany bishop takes Catholic politicians to task for protesting with Planned Parenthood supporters
ALBANY, New York, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Diocese of Albany has blasted three Catholic politicians who publicly rallied in support of Planned Parenthood.
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger noted that defending Planned Parenthood because the abortion giant provides some morally unobjectionable services for women “is not unlike saying that a man who beats his wife sometimes gives her flowers.”
“Planned Parenthood is the unquestioned number one provider of abortions in our country. This is the primary ‘product’ for which it is known,” the bishop wrote in a February 13 statement.
Scharfenberger released his statement after the annual February 11 and 12 #ProtestPP weekend in which pro-lifers demonstrated outside 220 Planned Parenthood (PP) facilities across the country.
In Albany, three Catholic politicians took part in a pro-Planned Parenthood counter-protest and “not only participated but spoke passionately on behalf of maintaining” public funding for the abortion provider, Scharfenberger wrote.
He did not name the politicians, but Church Militant identified them as Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko and state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.
Scharfenberger asserted that anyone, and particularly any politician, who points Planned Parenthood’s other services in order to “gloss over or ignore the core issue of whether or not taxpayers should be funding the world’s largest abortion business,” is “engaging in obfuscation that is, at best, confused and, at worst, dishonest.”
And “when such individuals publicly hold themselves out to be Catholic, their local bishop has a responsibility to offer correction, both for the well-being of the individuals’ souls and to avoid scandal among the Catholic faithful,” he added.
The bishop noted that “while any judgment of these individuals’ hearts or souls is left only to God, I am entrusted with the solemn duty of reminding them of the unambiguous teaching of our faith on the matter of abortion.”
Abortion “is not healthcare,” he pointed out.
“It is the intentional killing of a unique human person in his or her mother’s womb. This is a scientific fact that has nothing at all to do with religion or religious belief,” Scharfenberg stated.
“Consistent with this scientific fact, the Catholic Church clearly teaches the objective truth that abortion is a grave moral evil, and that material cooperation in abortion is a mortal sin.”
The bishop noted he had a duty to inform the Catholic politicians that “it is inappropriate and confusing to the faithful to hold yourself out publicly as a Catholic while also promoting abortion.”
Scharfenberger challenged them “to embrace the Gospel of Life and to renounce their public support for Planned Parenthood.”
“My prayer is that these and other elected officials will come to see the truth that abortion harms women and babies, and that they courageously fight to defend the right to life of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.”
The Brooklyn-born Scharfenberger was educated in Rome, is both a canon and civil lawyer, and had been pastor for 12 years of St. Matthias, a parish in a hardscrabble district in Queens, when Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Albany at age 65 in 2014.
Two months after being installed as bishop, Scharfenberger led 1,000 people in a June 2014 Rosary Walk for Life around New York’s state capitol.
The eldest of five, Scharfenberger told LifeSiteNews at the time that he did so “because the issue was important. They invited me and so I joined. It was wonderful to participate in this.”
Sheehan, one of the pro-abortion Catholic politicians, served as the diocese’s communications director under Scharfenberger’s immediate predecessor, Bishop Howard Hubbard.