The head of the Knights of Columbus has sent an open letter to Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, urging him to follow his conscience as a Catholic and work to ban abortions.
The letter signed by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, which appears in Friday’s USA Today and several other newspapers, reads in part: “I write to you today as a fellow Catholic layman, on a subject that has become a major topic of concern in this year’s presidential campaign…
“Senator Obama stressed your Catholic identity repeatedly when he introduced you as his running mate, and so your statements carry considerable weight, whether they are correct or not. You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching.
“On NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ you appealed to the 13th Century writings of St. Thomas Aquinas to cast doubt on the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion.
“There are several problems with this.
“First, Aquinas obviously had only a medieval understanding of biology, and thus could only speculate about how an unborn child develops in the womb. I doubt that there is any other area of public policy where you would appeal to a 13th Century knowledge of biology as the basis for modern law.
“Second, Aquinas’ theological view is in any case entirely consistent with the long history of Catholic Church teaching in this area, holding that abortion is a grave sin to be avoided at any time during pregnancy.
“This teaching … was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which described abortion as ‘an unspeakable crime’ and held that the right to life must be protected from the ‘moment of conception…’”
“While you voted for the ban on partial birth abortions, your unconditional support for [Roe v. Wade] is a de facto endorsement of permitting all other late term abortions.”
Biden recently departed from the party line and said that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception, although he said of abortion-rights advocates in his party: “They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life … begins.”
But Supreme Knight Anderson chastises Biden for not acting to oppose abortion, saying in his letter: “Your unwillingness to bring your Catholic moral views into the public policy arena on this issue alone is troubling…
“You have a choice: you can listen to your conscience and work to secure the rights of the unborn to share in the fruits of our hard-won liberty, or you can choose to turn your back on them.
“On behalf of the 1.28 million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families in the United States, I appeal to you, as a Catholic who acknowledges that life begins at conception, to resolve to protect this unalienable right.”
The abortion issue could prove to be a major factor among Catholics in the upcoming election, as evidenced by their increased support for the Republican ticket following the selection of anti-abortion candidate Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.
“Observant Catholics are returning to the Republican fold now that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has joined the GOP ticket,” The Christian Science Monitor observed, adding that “Catholics are an important subset in presidential elections.”
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