American Leaders of the Catholic Church are moving to increase their political activism by starting a new lobbying campaign against abortion and encouraging pro-choice candidates to change their stances on the issue. The campaign was approved by a vote taken during the semiannual meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops passing by a margin of 217 to 30.
The campaign requires priests to target Catholic politicians in particular, and urges bishops to set up private meetings with elected officials and political candidates and send them letters until they change their position on abortion. Bishops are also encouraged to go public with their criticism if they deem it necessary, and congregations will be asked to make a candidate's position on abortion their top priority when voting in the next election.
Jon O'Brien, a spokesperson for Catholics for a Free Choice, said the decision "is a slap in the face to the democratic principles that Americans expect their leaders to uphold."
According to O'Brien public opinion polls reveal that 39 percent of Catholics say a woman should be able to get an abortion if she decides she wants one, and 43 percent say abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, such as when a woman's health is at risk or when the pregnancy results from rape.
Media Resources: Washington Post - November 19, 1998