DENVER, April 11, 2011 ( – Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered a keynote address at the University of Notre Dame student-organized Right to Life lecture series Friday, during which he focused on politics and especially the battle for pro-life and Catholic values in the political sphere.


During a question and answer period, CNS News reported, Chaput answered frankly when asked why there is so much disunity among Catholics on the question of Catholic politicians standing clearly with the Church on major moral issues, such as abortion.

“The reason … is that there is no unity among the bishops about it,” said the archbishop.

“There is unity among the bishops about abortion always being wrong, and that you can’t be a Catholic and be in favor of abortion – the bishops all agree to that – but there’s just an inability among the bishops together to speak clearly on this matter and even to say that if you’re Catholic and you’re pro-choice, you can’t receive holy Communion,” Archbishop Chaput said.

Chaput acknowledged he is only in favor of refusing Communion provided private notice is given to the individual ahead of time.

But Catholics who support legal abortion, Chaput continued, must be told they cannot receive Communion and told they should never approach Holy Communion.  Along with other bishops, Chaput said he has been attempting for some years to have the USCCB speak publicly on the matter. 

Fear of removing Catholics from political life altogether has been widespread, Chaput said.  However, refusing to act on pro-abortion politicians has not worked.

“Let’s try something different and see if it works. Let’s be very, very clear on these matters.” “Help me to convince the bishops on that subject,” Chaput continued.

In the remainder of Chaput’s keynote address, titled “Politics and the Devil,” he presented his no-nonsense approach to promoting the life issues in the public sphere. 

The archbishop encouraged the youth to be courageous in fighting for their beliefs. “If we don’t remain true in our public actions to what we claim to believe in our personal lives, then we only deceive ourselves. Because God certainly isn’t fooled,” he said.  “If a citizen fails to bring his moral beliefs into our country’s political conversation, if he fails to work for them publicly and energetically, then the only thing he ensures is the defeat of his own beliefs.”

“The moral and political struggle we face today in defending human dignity is becoming more complex,” emphasized Chaput. “I believe that abortion is the foundational human rights issue of our lifetime.”

“We can’t simultaneously serve the poor and accept the legal killing of unborn children. We can’t build a just society, and at the same time, legally sanctify the destruction of generations of unborn human life. The rights of the poor and the rights of the unborn child flow from exactly the same human dignity guaranteed by the God who created us.”

Citing assisted suicide, cloning, genetic screening, and other scientific research and developments, Chaput stated that abortion is not the only area where Catholics will be held accountable.  “These things already raise serious questions about the definition of “human nature” and the protection of human dignity in the years ahead,” he said.

“How does one live as a Catholic in the world as it now is?” asked the archbishop.  “If we want to ‘live as Catholics’… we need to learn that lesson in our identity not from the world; not from the tepid and self-satisfied; and not from the enemies of the Church, even when they claim to be Catholic; but from the mind and memory of the Church herself, who speaks through her pastors.”

“Nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world,” concluded Chaput. “Don’t ever underestimate the beauty and power of the witness you give in your pro-life work.”

To read Archbishop Chaput’s full address, click here.