Friday, August 15, 2008

Naumann to Obama: Scrap Sebelius

The presidential hustings might be taking a breather in deference to the Olympics -- and the (presumptive) Democratic nominee's weeklong vacation in Hawaii -- but the ecclesiastical focus on the campaign and faithful citizenship hasn't stopped moving at a fever-pitch.

Earlier this week, Render Unto Caesar -- the long-awaited election-year tome of Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. -- hit the shelves, and was promptly green-lighted in the pages of the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano. Meanwhile, in recently-reported June comments echoing the point made by Michael Sean Winters -- whose Left at the Altar has gotten considerable play in church and media circles alike -- Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas warned Sen. Barack Obama to keep his distance from the state's Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice Democrat whose April veto of a bill restricting access to abortion earned her the archbishop's public barring from the Eucharist.

Having recently gone on-record calling Sebelius "as talented a public official as there is right now," Obama's vice-presidential search team has reportedly targeted the second-term Kansas chief as a possible running mate.
“One of the things that I said when I met with the governor at one point,[" Naumann said, "]is that some day she’s going to have to stand before God and account for her public service. And I hope that she’s going to have something better to say than what she does to this point on the protection of the innocent unborn. But I said if you go to God and you say, ‘Well, I didn’t understand how important this was’ or ‘I didn’t understand that this was such a crucial issue’ then as your bishop I’m the one responsible because I didn’t do enough to try and make sure of that. I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that and so I wanted to make sure that she understood what a serious matter this was."...

“To my mind, you have to pursue it in that way; you have to attempt to meet with the individual, instruct the individual, make sure that you’ve given them every chance to consider their position before you take extreme action.”

When he was asked if Kathleen Sebelius has honored his request, the Catholic leader of Kansas City said that she has. “To my knowledge, she hasn’t gone to Communion since this second request to her so in that sense from an indirect way she’s honoring the request.”

However, the governor has not kept the lines of communication open with Archbishop Naumann since his request in May. According to Naumann, “she has not communicated with me at this point at all and she’s told other people in the media that she’s going to respond to me personally, but that hasn’t happened at this time.”

“What I found out after I took the pastoral action with Governor Sebelius is that Senator Obama had her on his advisory committee for Catholics,” recalled the archbishop.

“I wasn’t aware of that [beforehand],” he said, “but I hope that it alerted Senator Obama that this is not probably somebody that can really counsel you in terms of the mind and the heart of the Church on this very critical and important area.”

“So I think it would be a bad judgment on Senator Obama’s part to select someone who was in conflict with the Church.”
With the Democratic convention opening in Denver on 25 August, though, the lion's share of "Veepstakes" speculation on the Dem side has highlighted Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine -- a Catholic who, as a young lawyer, spent a mission year with the Jesuits in Honduras -- as the more likely ad intra choice.

A Virginian by marriage, Kaine was born in Kansas.