US prelate urges Americans to be Catholics first during election

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia urged Americans to put their faith ahead of politics. The prelate’s call was made two weeks before the US presidential election.

“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us,” Chaput was quoted as saying.

“And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,” he added.

He said Church teaching against abortion “requires absolute adherence” on the part of Catholic voters, who must “stand united” in opposition to the practice regardless of party affiliation.

“(Abortion) really is a big issue today, and I think what it requires of Catholics is a loyalty to the church prior to their political party,” Chaput told Catholic News Service Oct. 20 in Rome.

“If we don’t stand united on this issue, we’re bound to failure, not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom,” he said.

Archbishop Chaput echoed the calls of other American bishops to have their flocks consider their faith in the voting booth.

“We do believe in the separation of church and state, but we don’t believe in the separation of faith from our political life,” he said.

“It’s very important for Catholics to make distinctions when voting that they never support intrinsic evils like abortion, which is evil in all circumstances. That’s a lot different from different economic policies” that people can reasonably disagree on, the archbishop said in another interview with the Catholic News Agency.

His remarks come as an Oct. 22 Gallup poll shows the “economy in general” is the issue rated most important by Americans as the election nears.

“But people who are practicing Catholics cannot have alternate views on abortion,” he said. “Such foundational issues have a huge impact and it’s important that Catholics make those distinctions.”


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