July 23, 2004 ( – The Associated Press has reported on a survey of 75 Catholic public officials in the US who they say are ‘undaunted’ in their determination to continue supporting abortion. All of the persons interviewed said that they will neither change their position on abortion nor refrain from presenting themselves for communion in their churches. They told AP reporters that they see no conflict in their support of abortion and their continued participation in the Catholic Church’s most sacred rite. Lt. Gov Tim Kaine of Virginia, who supports abortion but with restrictions, said, “I believe that what I do as a public servant is in accord with church teaching.”

There is little mystery in this apparent contradiction however; pro-life activists as well as Catholic commentators have been warning the Catholic hierarchy for decades of a severe decline in basic knowledge of the Catholic faith. Of late some prominent bishops have acknowledged the damage as well.  Last week Archbishop Charles Chaput told Colorado Public Radio that one of the stumbling blocks in teaching Catholic legislators their responsibilities was a general lack of discipline in moral teaching in the Catholic Church. “There’s been a lack of clear teaching in the church for a number of years about where we really stand,” he said.

The problem has come home to roost with John Kerry’s insistence that there is no conflict between his enthusiastic support of abortion and his practice as a Catholic. Since their recent meeting in Denver, the US bishops have taken a number of apparently conflicting positions on the reception of communion by dissidents and more Catholic politicians are simply ignoring the voice of authority in their Church. “I am very comfortable with my status, and quite frankly, my relationship with God is direct and personal and the church is merely a guest in that relationship,” said U.S. Rep. James Langevin.  Pointing to the decades immediately following Vatican II, the Archbishop Chaput said, “Part of that has risen out of the sense that if we are more friendly with the culture it’s going to make the gospel more acceptable to the culture. After several decades of trying to do that we haven’t found the culture falling on its knees before the teaching of God. It seems to be slipping further and further away from what we understand to be God’s will for human dignity.”

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