Catholic Church Beliefs vs. Politics

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"The urgency and the importance of the elections motivate me to speak about these things now." The bishop of the Colorado Springs Diocese says Catholics who vote for certain politicians should not take part in the most sacred ritual in the church.

Bishop Michael Sheridan says Catholics who vote for candidates who back abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research, or euthanasia should not receive communion until they recant. He's believed to be the first bishop in the United States to take such a strong public stance on the holy sacrament. And his statements are drawing nationwide attention. KKTV’s Nina Martinez sat down with the bishop on Friday to talk about his message.

He says he's very concerned about the upcoming general election in November. He's also concerned that presidential candidate John Kerry is Catholic, but supports abortion rights. "The vote you cast has far reaching public consequences. Why would we suggest there's no moral dimension to that?" said Bishop Sheridan.

He says Catholics have a moral obligation when they go to the polls. In the “Catholic Herald,” a newspaper for church members in the Colorado Springs Diocese, he draws the line for Catholic voters. He says Catholics should not vote for candidates who support abortion, illicit stem cell research, euthanasia and gay marriage. "These are issues on the table in terms of the political process, but they are also issues that are intrinsically evil."

The bishop says it's morally wrong for Catholic political candidates to support abortion legislation. And he says voters need to understand their role in putting a politician like that into office. "I think they're wrong. I don't pretend to read souls. According to teaching of church, it's sinful," said the bishop.

Bishop Sheridan says he's not saying anything new. He's just being true to the constant teachings of the church. "If you have sinned in this way or another way, as I have sinned in another way, we do not receive communion until we are reconciled with God."

We asked the bishop if he would give communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He said he would not.

As for enforcement of his policy, Bishop Sheridan concedes, there's no way to stop Catholics from taking communion. But he says, they do need to do what's right.

We talked to some Catholics following Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Friday to get their perspectives on the bishop’s stance. Here's what they had to say:

  • "The problem I see as a Catholic and a Democrat, is that it leaves very little room to maneuver inside the Democratic Party.”

  • "As Catholics, we're taught to discern our own consciousness. But if we follow the dictates of the church, the teachings of the church, we must vote pro-life.”

  • "I don't believe that we should get into any of that. It should be separate from the church. It shouldn't have anything to do with politics or anything like that."

  • "I agree that if you're really Catholic and you do value life that, you would want to vote for someone who values the same thing."

    Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput agrees with Bishop Sheridan---saying Catholic voters must hold politicians accountable.

    To read Bishop Sheridan's entire statement, as printed in the "Catholic Herald," Click Here