Bishop Naumann: Kansas amendment not a Catholic issue
Rabbi Mark H. Levin’s recent comment, targeting the Catholic Church and myself personally to attack Kansas’ Value Them Both Amendment, combined blatant misinterpretation and anti-Catholic rhetoric.
I have the greatest respect for Judaism and the Jewish people. They know what it means to suffer religious persecution. I am against any form of anti-Semitism. I am proud that the Catholic Church of Kansas was a leading advocate for a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly recognizing the growing problem of expressions of anti-Semitism in the United States. In my experience, both in Kansas City and St. Louis, the vast majority of Jewish leaders and community members oppose anti-Catholicism.
Levin says the church imposes its religious beliefs on the Kansans through its support of the Value Them Both amendment. The mere fact that a law coincides with religious beliefs does not mean that it is an inadmissible imposition of religion. Many laws coincide with religious beliefs.
From a Catholic perspective, abortion is not primarily a religious issue, but a fundamental human rights issue. Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is enough to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.
Prominent abortion rights advocate Bernard Nathanson became pro-life not because of religious dogma, but because of science. Nathanson was ethnically Jewish but for most of his life religiously identified as an atheist. He was a co-founder of the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws and ran the largest free-standing abortion center in the world. He presided over over 60,000 abortions, personally performing thousands of them.
Ultrasound technology, providing a window into the womb and revealing the undeniable humanity of the unborn child, and advances in fetal science forced Nathanson to reconsider his view of abortion. He renounced his former outspoken support for abortion and became a strong advocate for life.
After his conversion, Nathanson acknowledged the lies and manipulation at the heart of his defense of abortion, admitting to exaggerating statistics regarding the number of illegal abortions and the number of women who died from them. He acknowledged having developed what he called the “Catholic Strategy”:
▪ Appeal to anti-Catholicism by blaming the pope, bishops or priests for abortion limits.
▪ Elevate pro-abortion Catholic politicians in the media.
▪ Support pro-abortion Catholic candidates.
▪ Promoting the “Catholic Straddle”: “personally opposed” but supporting women’s right to choose abortion.
Unfortunately, Rabbi Levin’s commentary is a page out of the Catholic playbook. The rabbi accuses me of trying to deprive the Kansans of personal choice regarding their destiny. Yet that is exactly what the Supreme Court of Kansas did when it outlandishly asserted that a right to abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution, taking abortion policy out of the hands of the people and their representatives. duly elected and handing it over to the researcher.
Several months ago, I appealed to all Catholics in the Archdiocese to donate to a special Respect Life fund to provide additional support for alternatives to abortion, the ministry of post-abortion healing, expanding our efforts to help foster children, and supporting the Value Them Both amendment. I am proud of the generous response of our Catholic people.
I am also very proud that the Value Them Both coalition includes many other faith-based and secular leaders and organizations, including the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, James Dobson, Family Research Council, Democrats for Life , More than 200 Kansas medical and mental health professionals, Concerned Women for America of Kansas, and Kansas Family Voice.
Valuing both is not a Catholic issue. Preserving current laws and reclaiming the authority of the people of Kansas to determine public policy on such an important societal issue is something every Kansan should be keen to support.
Joseph F. Naumann is Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.