A group of Roman Catholic bishops is using its influence to oppose John Kerry because of his positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, according to a report today in the New York Times.
The article reads in part:
Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, and many conservative Catholics are concentrated in swing states, pollsters say. Conservatives organizers say they are working hard because the next president is quite likely to name at least one new Supreme Court justice.
Catholic prelates have publicly clashed with Catholic Democrats like former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York and Geraldine A. Ferraro, the former representative and vice-presidential candidate.
But never before have so many bishops so explicitly warned Catholics so close to an election that to vote a certain way was to commit a sin.
Less than two weeks ago, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis issued just such a statement. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark have both recently declared that the obligation to oppose abortion outweighs any other issue.
In theological terms, these bishops and the voter guides argue that abortion and the destruction of embryos are categorically wrong under church doctrine. War and even the death penalty can in certain circumstances be justified.
But it is impossible to know how many bishops share this view, and there is resistance from a sizable wing of the church that argues that voting solely on abortion slights Catholic teaching on a range of other issues, including war, poverty, the environment and immigration.