Radical Kansas Cleric: 4 in 10 Catholics Unfit to Present Themselves for Communion

Human Rights

There's been some controversy abrewin' about Barack Obama's relationship with the Catholic faithful. Supposedly, a wide chasm has opened between that group and the president resulting from the latter's support for stem-cell research and the fact that he doesn't believe the state should force women to give birth unless they choose to.

There was the Notre Dame kerfuffle, and now the storyline continues with the confirmation hearing of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

All of this should be seen through a pretty simple lens: there is, in fact, no difference between the views of American Catholics and the population as a whole. The rift, to the extent it exists, is between the Catholic church hierarchy and Obama. And here's the key thing to understand: to the degree that they are significantly more conservative on social issues than the nation as a whole, the leaders of the church are utterly and painfully out of step with their own followers. It would be nice if the media noted that rather significant fact.

Consider this bit from today's Washington Post about the Sebelius hearing:

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is Catholic, was on the hot seat yesterday at a Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of Health and Human Services. But it couldn't have been nearly as tense as her relationship with her bishop, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

There's a fascinating little interview with Naumann at the Web site of Catholics for Faith and Family. In it, Naumann lays out the struggles he has gone through with Sebelius, who supports abortion rights and has vetoed several bills in Kansas to impose new restrictions on abortion providers or regulations on clinics.

Clearly, Naumann does not take kindly to defiance from his flock. And he doesn't hesitate to play hardball.

In the interview, Naumann says that after months of a "long dialogue" with the governor, he wrote her a letter, warning her privately not to present herself for Communion. But, he said, a parish priest informed him that she had done so.

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