By Kathleen Gilbert

KANSAS CITY, March 5, 2009 ( – Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City weighed in on the nomination of abortion “champion” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a member of his flock, to head the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department. 

In an interview Wednesday with Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), the archbishop said of the nomination: “From the Church’s point of view, it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President [Joe] Biden and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress.”  He also said, “I personally find it offensive” that President Obama would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head the HHS.

“It makes our job as bishops more challenging, because we have to be even more clear that this is not acceptable for a person in public service to say that they are Catholic and then to support these policies that … go against the most fundamental of all human rights, the preservation of innocent life,” said Naumann.

Last May, Archbishop Naumann publically admonished Sebelius to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until she took “the necessary steps for amendment of her life, which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.”  The archbishop told OSV that he resorted to a public rebuke after Sebelius disobeyed his private injunction in August 2007. 

Naumann said he acted out of a desire to “provoke, in a good sense, Gov. Sebelius to reconsider her position and to have a change of heart.”   “I have asked the people here in the archdiocese to pray for her and I pray for her regularly too because I am concerned about her own spiritual welfare and … her involvement with this intrinsic evil,” he said.

Additionally, Naumann says he acted “to protect others from being misled by her actions.”  

“I think as a Church, those of us responsible for teaching in the Church, we have to continue to make that clear to our people that this just isn’t acceptable. It’s not a morally coherent position to say I’m personally opposed but publicly I’m going to do all of these things that support abortion.” 

On the ramifications of Sebelius receiving Communion outside the archbishop’s jurisdiction, Naumann remarked, “Whether a bishop tells a Catholic politician, they shouldn’t go to Communion or not, the sacrilege remains.”

Referring to his fellow bishops, Naumann said, “Together – regardless what we may do in terms of instructing politicians whether they should present themselves to Communion or not – we have to be clear in our teaching how their conduct is simply inconsistent with our Catholic belief and we have to make sure our people understand that.”

Naumann confirmed that Sebelius’ steadily pro-abortion track record puts her in full opposition to fundamental Church teaching on the sanctity of life. 

The archbishop said the appointment of such a pro-abortion figure was “particularly troubling because of the importance of that position and particularly the influence the secretary there will have on conscience rights as well as the health care reform.”  Naumann referred to “the inclusion of abortion as a fundamental right as part of the health care package,” which would put Catholic healthcare providers “in a real bind.”  

“So it’s not helpful to have someone with her record and history as the head of HHS,” he concluded.

Remarking on the endorsement of Sebelius by Catholics United, a controversial organization of high-profile Catholics, the archbishop said that their favorable assessment of Sebelius’ Catholicity was “very, very dishonest and not at all accurate.”

“It’s true that abortion dropped during her term as governor but I don’t think she really had anything to do with it, although she likes to take credit for it,” he noted. “[Catholics United] are either not very honest or they’re not very competent in the research that they do.”

Sebelius, as the archbishop noted, has identified herself as a leader in protecting women’s “right” to abortion, and voted down several initiatives to restrict late-term abortions.  Also, the governor maintained an affiliation with George Tiller, a notorious late-term abortionist, who has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Sebelius campaigns.  Planned Parenthood, after hosting a party celebrating the governor’s birthday, referred to Sebelius as a “champion” of their cause.

To see the full OSV interview, go to:

See related coverage:

Obama Nominates Extreme Pro-Abortion Gov. Sebelius as Health Secretary

ALL’s Judie Brown on Sen. Brownback: “I’ll never use ‘pro-life’ to describe him again”

Pro-Life Outrage over Sebelius Pick Mounts as Brownback Reaffirms Support


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