By Hilary White

PORTSMOUTH, UK, November 14, 2008 ( – Following a barrage of criticism from Catholics and advocates for the unborn, the Catholic bishop of Portsmouth in the U.K., Crispian Hollis, has issued a “clarification” on his warm welcome of Barack Obama as the newly elected president of the United States.

Hollis had written a message that was posted to the diocese’s website, saying he was “thrilled” at the election of the man pro-life advocates are calling the “most pro-abortion president in US history.”

“With millions of others,” Bishop Hollis said, “I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it.” He called it a “rare moment of hope and optimism” with “potential for the whole global community.”

Today, that message is removed and a clarification in its place says, “I genuinely welcome [Obama’s] election because he represents such a different political profile from that of President Bush.”

But, Bishop Hollis said, “I am aware of what he has said about abortion and about the so-called freedom of choice and I deplore his words. There is no way in which I endorse his position on these crucial ‘life’ matters, nor, as a Catholic bishop, could I ever do so.”

He added, “Perhaps it’s naëve to say this but I hope and pray that the realities of the political process will mean that he has to temper his personal policies on these all important life issues and pay serious attention to the outrage with which many view his ‘life’ agenda.”

John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children indicated in an email to that he was less than impressed with Bishop Hollis’ clarified position.

“If, instead of agreeing to kill babies on demand,” he said, “doctors were required by Barack Obama’s policies to agree to kill, for example, Catholic priests, would the Bishop of Portsmouth continue to insist on welcoming his election?”

Smeaton had written in a blog post yesterday that Bishop Hollis was suffering from “Obamania”, and that he would be writing to the bishop to ask, “What ‘hope and optimism’ can Catholic medics have following Obama’s election, who will abolish conscientious objection to abortion, thereby threatening to destroy Catholic healthcare in the US?”

Hollis did not say how many phone calls and emails he had received after posting his first message that was quoted, along with his contact information and the contact information of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, by

Read related coverage:

UK Catholic Bishop: “I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it.”

To contact the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops:

Palazzo della Congregazioni,
  Piazza Pio XII, 10
  00193 Roma,

To contact Bishop Crispian Hollis,
  Bishop’s House,
  Edinburgh Road,
  PO1 3HG

Phone: (0)23 9282 0894
  Fax: (0)23 9286 3086

To send an online message:


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