WHEELING, August 31, 2004 ( – The bishop of Charleston-Wheeling Catholic diocese, Bernard Schmitt, has written an editorial for the local paper in which he distances himself and his diocese from the actions of one of his priests who gave the invocation at a rally for John Kerry. Rev. Lawrence Dorsch, rector of St. Joseph Cathedral offered the invocation as representative of a local charitable association, said the bishop.

The editor of the local paper claimed that the diocese was attempting to ‘soften the blow’ of Catholic opposition to the Kerry Campaign by sending one of its prominent priests to show support. Bishop Schmitt was at pains to point out that had the priest asked his permission to speak at the rally he would not have given it. He thanked the editor for printing a correction.

Bishop Schmitt explained that as a bishop he could not be seen to endorse any particular candidate. However, the rest of his editorial was given over to a powerful teaching on the right to life of every human being. He wrote, “An essential truth that has been marginalized in our political dialogue is the God-given sanctity of human life.” He says that the right to life is not a matter of personal opinion, but one enshrined in the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence. He calls it, “the cornerstone of civilization itself.”  Bishop Schmitt united himself with Pope John Paul II in calling on politicians to oppose legislation that “attacks human life.” He said, “It is morally inconsistent for them, as for any Catholic, to promote such laws or to vote for them; it is a grave, objective evil for them to vote against laws that would restrict abortion and other attacks on innocent human life.”  Bishop Schmitt’s words will encourage pro-life activists who are often disappointed by the equivocal stand of many spiritual leaders. Bishop Schmitt negates the often-heard refrain that the life issues are merely one among many that is often the basis of official documents from national bishops’ conferences. He says, “Some say that decisions should not be made at the ballot box on a single issue. I respond to that with the absolute statement that the Gospel of Life is not a ‘single issue,’ it is the single most important issue.”  To read the complete article:

To contact Bishop Schmitt:  [email protected]   ph