WILMINGTON, September 30, 2005 ( -Â The Catholic bishop whose diocese includes two of most vocal pro-abortion Catholics in Congress-including a possible 2008 presidential candidate-is enlisting 220,000 Catholics for a month of prayer for the conversion of all politicians to a respect for life.

“I think for too long we have been silent and our people have taken that silence as part of an acquiescence of the status quo,” Wilmington (DE) Bishop Michael Saltarelli told in an exclusive interview. “We are complicit in this. So we have to step forward and say no, this is not right-it is wrong, it is sinful.”

“They somehow have bought the package-You can be personally opposed,” the bishop of Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland said. “It’s such an excuse, to me-it’s a cop out.”

Delaware is represented by Sen. Joseph Biden, a Democrat who describes himself as a “practicing Catholic”, and Rep. Michael Castle, a Catholic Republican. Biden is considering a run for the presidency in 2008.

Sen. Thomas Carper, a Republican with a mixed record on abortion, is a Presbyterian. Maryland’s Eastern Shore is represented by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a pro-choice Republican, and by Maryland’s two pro-choice Democratic senators, Barbara Mikulski, Catholic, and Paul Sarbanes.

Bishop Saltarelli is urging his flock to pray that politicians, lawyers and statesmen may be given the grace to be “courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of life.”

Sen. Biden, a member of the Judiciary Committee, voted Sept. 23 against confirming U.S. Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court partly because of doubts about Roberts’ commitment to Roe v. Wade. Rep. Castle is the prime sponsor of a U.S. House bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to discarded in-vitro fertilization embryos. The House passed it 238-192 on May 24th. The legislation is now before the Senate. Sen. Barbara Mikulski has a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Saltarelli would not name specific politicians but said, “I have been in conversation with them. I have invited them to dialogue and it’s painful for them. It really is, they’re caught betwixt and between.” He added, “Respectfully as I said. And I will continue to engage. I won’t give up on that. We pray.”

For more on Bishop Saltarelli’s views on homosexuals in the seminary, migrants and immigration, the sexual abuse crisis, the priesthood, and the power of prayer, log on to: