18 Democrats Assailed for Criticizing Pope's Remarks

U.S. Bishops' Aide Says They Defied Freedom of Speech

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- U.S. Democrats defied freedom of speech and religion when they criticized Benedict XVI for remarks about legislators who supported abortion in Mexico, says an official from the U.S. bishops' conference.



Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of the U.S. episcopal conference's media relations office, said this in a statement released Friday, adding that the Democrats also misrepresented the Pope's comments.

"In an unfortunate May 10 statement, 18 of the 88 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives criticized Pope Benedict XVI's remarks concerning Mexican lawmakers legalizing abortion," the statement read. "The Representatives' statement misrepresents the Holy Father's remarks and implies that the Church does not have a right to voice its teaching in the public square."

Sister Walsh reiterated that the Holy Father's remarks reflected traditional Catholic teaching.

"The Holy See has made clear that neither the Mexican bishops nor the Holy Father have excommunicated any legislator," she wrote. "Rather, the Holy See reiterated longstanding Church teaching that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong, that is, a mortal sin, should not approach the Eucharist until going to confession."

The woman religious recalled that Church teaching calls for a respect of human life from conception till natural death.

"To suggest that the Church should not clearly voice its teaching and apply it in a pluralistic society is to attack freedom of speech and freedom of religion," the statement said. "The Catholic Church always will and must speak out against the destruction of innocent unborn children.

"The right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution that all legislators are elected to uphold. Speaking and acting against abortion is not a matter of partisan politics. It is a matter of life and death.

"The bishops urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity."