WASHINGTON – Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not back down from his remarks about Catholic politicians who “don't conform” their lives to their religious beliefs when he spoke at a prayer breakfast May 20.
At the Second Annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast,where President Bush also spoke,Chaput said that today's “anti-Catholic prejudice” doesn't come from other religious believers,but from people who don't want any religious influences in public debates.
“When public officials claim to be Catholic but then say they can't offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law,it always means one of two things,” Chaput said. “That person is either very confused,or they're very evasive.”
During last fall's campaign,Chaput criticized Sen. Ken Salazar,D-Colo.,a Catholic who personally opposes abortion but says a woman should be able to make her own choice,about an award Salazar won from the Catholic Lawyers Guild in 2003.
In a statement,Salazar's press secretary,Cody Wertz,said Salazar struggles every day “for ways to protect the dignity of each and every person.,”
“Senator Salazar,like all of us,prays for the strength and clarity to meet that goal,” Wertz said,“and hopes that the most deeply held challenges of our individual lives do not become political talking points.”
Breakfast sponsors introduced all the senators at the breakfast,and Salazar's name was not among them.
Chaput also spoke about President Bush's re-election,saying many Americans continue to see the president as a man of dedication and leadership. However,Chaput said,“President Bush is not the Lord.”
“Our political parties,whether Democratic or Republican,are not the Lord. Congress is not the Lord. The Supreme Court is not the Lord. And neither are we Lord,” Chaput said.
Bush urged Catholics to honor Pope John Paul II by continuing to “build a culture of life where the strong protect the weak.”
It was Bush's first appearance at the breakfast,and he joked about the warm welcome the crowd of about 1,500 gave to a Methodist.
Bush also said,“I appreciate Archbishop Chaput of Denver. Thank you for being here,sir. I apologize to him for not being able to listen to his address. He said,‘We’re paying you a lot of money. Get back to work.' Fortunately,he didn’t say,‘We’re paying you too much money,get back to work.'”
Four activists wore shirts that read,“You Can't be Catholic and pro-abortion” One of them was Joey D. Kerlin,20,who attended Metropolitan State College in Denver last year.
As an employee of the pro-life American Life League,he will lead a group of students who will spend the summer trying to speak to politicians who proclaim the Catholic faith,yet support abortion.
“There are 800 politicians and public figures who are Catholic,except they state how strong they support abortion,” Kerlin said.
“I think the president's remarks about connecting culture and life are profound,” said Kerlin,now of Stafford,Va.,“but Chaput is the most courageous and active pro-life bishop now.”
Mark Adams,communications manager for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and the Culture of Life Foundation and Institute,said he was excited that Bush spoke about the culture of life because that means he is taking a stand for unborn children and scientific research that “disrespects human life.”
“It was exciting to hear Bush,but Chaput had most poignant things to say,” Adams said.