Last Tuesday, the Bishops of America gathered for a conference in Baltimore to discuss the recent election, and debate whether pro-choice politicians should be refused communion. Framing these discussions was the fact that 54% of Catholics voted for Sen. Obama.
The majority of the Bishops expressed reservations and fear over an Obama presidency and the possible passage of the Freedom of Choice Act that Obama has said he supports. The legislation would solidify the legal right to an abortion, causing concern amongst the bishops. The bishops have written a letter to President-Elect Obama and members of Congress urging them to reject the pro-choice legislation. The Bishops stated that "pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church."
Along with this warning to Congress and Obama, the bishops debated whether pro-choice politicians should be refused communion.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said repeatedly that politicians who support abortion rights should stop taking Holy Communion. "They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief.” Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis said that "any one of us would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion," reported the Washington Post.
Amid the extreme voices at the conference, there were also a few who called for compromise. Dr. Patrick Whelan, a pediatrician and president of Catholic Democrats, said “that angry statements from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.” In a recent Washington Post article Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said many of the bishops are "in a tailspin" after unsuccessfully urging Catholic voters to make abortion a priority. "These people represent a minority view of Catholics in the United States and in the world." According the the Guttmacher Institute 37% of women who have abortions are Catholic. Only 22% of Catholics agree with the bishops’ position and believe that abortion should be illegal.
With these numbers, it appears that the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion is greatly out of touch with the majority of their members.