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WASHIGNTON, DC, August 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The selection of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as the vice presidential running mate of Barack Obama poses a major challenge for American Catholics, according to Fidelis, a national Catholic-based advocacy group.

Fidelis warned late last month that the choice of a pro-abortion Catholic as a vice presidential candidate would offend many Catholics who have struggled with the scandal of prominent pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Senator Biden.

Fidelis President Brian Burch commented, “Barack Obama has re-opened a wound among American Catholics by picking a pro-abortion Catholic politician. The American bishops have made clear that Catholic political leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the unborn.  Sadly, Joe Biden’s tenure in the United States Senate has been marked by steadfast support for legal abortion.”

During the recent Democratic primary campaign Biden said: “I am a long-standing supporter of Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.”

In 2004, John Kerry’s support for abortion sparked a nationwide controversy over whether Catholics who support legal abortion can receive Communion. The debate was re-activated in 2007 when several bishops criticized Rudy Giuliani, also a pro-abortion Catholic.

“Now everywhere Biden campaigns, we’ll have this question of whether a pro-abortion Catholic can receive Communion. Senator Biden is an unrepentant supporter of abortion in direct opposition to the Church he claims as his own. Selecting a pro-abortion Catholic is a slap in the face to Catholic voters,” said Burch.

Biden’s own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the “great civil rights issues of this generation.”
 
  Bishop Saltarelli denounced the notion that politicians can ‘personally oppose’ abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn.

“No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’ Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena,’” said Bishop Saltarelli.

In fact, Bishop Saltarelli made clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

“The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.  I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.”

Burch concluded: “The American bishops have instructed Catholic voters to consider many issues, but have characterized the defense of human life as ‘foundational’ and have explained that the issue has a special claim on the conscience of the Catholic voter.  This means that a political candidate like Biden, because of his strong support for abortion rights, forfeits any claim for support despite his views on other issues like health care and the economy.”

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