View Full Version : Phoenix Diocese Bans Politicians Who Support Abortion, Gay Rights

08-05-2005, 09:04 PM
Phoenix Diocese bans politicians who support abortion, gay rights


The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX - Politicians who support issues like abortion and gay rights have been banned from speaking at Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese.
So far, Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano has been the only one affected by the edict from Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

Napolitano was forbidden to speak last year at a Catholic church in Scottsdale at an event opposing Proposition 200, a ballot measure that restricted the rights of undocumented immigrants. The event was moved to another site.

In a letter to pastors in December, Olmsted said churches may not invite to speak any politician or other public figure who disagrees with basic church teachings on abortion, gay marriage or other issues.

An invitation "would provide them with a platform which would suggest support for their actions," Olmsted wrote.

Napolitano, a Methodist, said Friday that the ban was broad and not aimed at just her. "I think the church is for praying and that politics are not for inside the church," she said.

Napolitano also noted that her administration is working with faith-based organizations and on Wednesday announced a partnership with one such group for handling food stamp applications. That partnership involves a foundation affiliated with the Phoenix diocese.

"We will work with any faith-based organization that will work with us," she said.

Napolitano spoke in June at the annual convention of the United Methodist Church's Desert Southwest Annual Conference. She challenged churches to help find foster homes for children, housing for the homeless and jobs for ex-convicts but abortion rights, gay marriage and other hot button issues were not mentioned.

Olmsted's decision followed a policy passed last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Olmsted is among a number of Catholic bishops nationwide who have chosen to take a strict interpretation of the June 2004 statement called "Catholics in Political Life."

It condemns people who don't follow Catholic teaching, but leaves decisions about public speaking and communion to individual bishops.

Other bishops have taken a softer approach.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas said he has not established a blanket policy for the Diocese of Tucson. In fact, Napolitano was allowed to speak in a Tucson Catholic church in April for the 15th anniversary of the Pima County Interfaith Council.

Ron Johnson, lobbyist for Arizona's Catholic bishops, said it is rare for politicians of any kind to speak at Catholic churches. The Phoenix diocese even discouraged candidate forums during the 2004 campaign