In interview Archbishop Chaput talks candidly about abortion, religious freedom

By Dave Andrusko

Philadephia Archbishop Charles Chaput

In a nearly 7,50-word-long interview appearing in the “National Catholic Reporter,” Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, provided  NCR’s John Allen with a candid portrait of his first year as the 9th Archbishop of Philadelphia. From the pro-life perspective, Archbishop Chaput touched on several important concerns. For example….

Allen asked,” Do you believe a Catholic in good faith can vote for Obama?” (They were speaking the night President Obama delivered his acceptance speech.)

Chaput responded, “I can only speak in terms of my own personal views. I certainly can’t vote for somebody who’s either pro-choice or pro-abortion.” He added that he was registered as an Independent because “I don’t think the church should be identified with one party or another.”

But he also said as an individual and a voter that he has “deep personal concerns” about any party that, for example, “supports abortion in all circumstances, wants to restrict the traditional understanding of religious freedom. Those kinds of issues cause me a great deal of uneasiness.”

Allen went on to ask Chaput about religious freedom which Allen said has become “the signature issue” for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Was the ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ a success?” Allen asks.

Archbishop Chaput responded

“It was a success in the sense that it brought this issue [threats to religious liberty] to greater awareness in the lives of many Catholics. In terms of really changing either the church or the national situation concretely, we have to yet to see its effects. The history of the world demonstrates that if we aren’t always on guard about religious freedom, we’ll lose it. It happens everywhere, and it could happen in the United States.

“Church officials in Europe, bishops and cardinals, have told me that they’re astonished there is an actual threat to religious freedom in the United States. They’ve always seen us as embodying religious freedom more clearly than any other government or country in the history of the world. It’s also surprising to me. I would never have thought, even ten years ago, that we would be dealing with it so quickly.”

In answering another question [about the Obama insurance mandate], Chaput added,

“I think there’s a huge number of people in our country who are very worried about the encroachment on religious freedom indicated by those mandates. I also think that people who don’t agree with us on abortion and marriage would still be sympathetic to us on religious freedom.

“Those who oppose us on the mandates are very insistent. I thought they would back down by now, but they haven’t. We have to fight as vigorously in opposing them as they are in imposing them. Who’s going to win? I don’t know. It will be whoever fights the hardest and wins the hearts and minds of the people.”

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