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Kansas Archbishop: Catholics should counter pro-abortion ‘bullying’ with truth

July 27, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann from the Archdiocese of Kansas City appeared on EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly. / Credit: Pro-Life Weekly

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 27, 2022 / 15:40 pm (CNA).

Over the last month, the nation has seen a historic wave of change following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, with the political debate over abortion now shifting to the states. Currently, the Kansas legislature is debating the “Value Them Both” amendment, which would potentially regulate access to abortion within the state.

Prudence Robertson of EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly recently spoke with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann from the Archdiocese of Kansas City about his support for the proposed amendment. They also discussed the reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade among local pro-life advocates, and Naumann’s thoughts on the role that Catholics have in defending the unborn.

“I think for many of us, it’s been like the Berlin Wall coming down,” Naumann said as he described what it felt like for pro-life Kansans following the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe. “But of course, there are others that have become convinced … that we can’t survive as a society without the ability to kill our own children.”

On Aug. 2, Kansans will vote on the pro-life “Value Them Both” amendment. If approved, it would enable state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate abortion. Currently, lawmakers are generally prohibited from restricting abortion following a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the state’s constitution protects abortion.

One of the unfortunate side effects of the overturning of Roe has been the vandalization of Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation as a form of protest — something that Naumann has seen occur within his state.

“It’s really tragic to see the viciousness and unfortunately, we’ve had at least one episode of vandalism at one of our churches here,” Naumann said. “A lot of other stealing of signs and defacing of our signs and kind of organized efforts and what I would call almost bullying by the opponents of the amendment here in Kansas.”

Ahead of the vote, parish buildings and a statue of the Blessed Mother at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park were “extensively defaced” with red spray paint in an “overt act of hatred and incivility,” Naumann’s archdiocese previously confirmed.

On EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly, Naumann said that the final decision regarding the “Value Them Both” amendment ultimately comes down to voter turnout on Aug. 2.

Naumann also touched on the role that Catholics and the Church itself have in advocating for passage of the amendment — as well as the broader role of defending the unborn. You can watch the interview with Naumann in the video below.

“Our approach … is comprehensive and part of it is advocacy,” Naumann described. “Since [the U.S. Church’s] very inception, Archbishop Carroll thought it was not appropriate for us to endorse candidates, politicians, or parties. And so the Church has chosen never to do that. I think that was a wise decision, that we don’t want to stake the Church’s reputation to any particular politician or party. But it’s not a vote on a politician. It’s a vote on an issue.”

For any Catholic who is looking for ways to participate in this ongoing movement, Naumann stressed the importance of an approach that highlights the dignity of human life, including that of the unborn.

“I think we’ve got to reach minds and change hearts by [education]. Not the way that our opponents try to do things with violence and with bullying, but by simply presenting people with the truth… And so I think we don’t have enemies. We just have pro-lifers who haven’t yet been converted. And I think we have to work on that.”

For upcoming news on pro-life developments, be sure to stay tuned to  Catholic News Agency and EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly.


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News Briefs

Archbishop Naumann encourages Catholics to get vaccinated, accommodate consciences

August 28, 2021 Catholic News Agency 1
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas celebrates Mass with members of the U.S. bishops’ Region IX at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on Jan. 14, 2020, during their ad Limina Apostolorum visit. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2021 / 12:01 pm (CNA).

More U.S. bishops this week issued statements on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and conscientious objection.

As employers and public places have begun mandating that workers and customers have received a COVID-19 vaccine, bishops around the country have begun issuing statements for Catholics regarding mandates and conscience exemptions.

This week, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas – who is also chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee – encouraged Catholics to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, in a statement issued in his capacity as archbishop of Kansas City. 

“The Church upholds the permissibility of receiving the vaccines, because vaccination is by itself not evil. In fact, it is normally a virtuous act, attempting to protect the health of others as well as your own health,” he stated in an Aug. 26 press release.

Archbishop Naumann noted the ethical problems posed by the vaccines’ connection to cell lines derived from abortions decades ago. Of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States, two of them – produced by Pfizer and Moderna – were tested using the controversial cell lines. One of the vaccines, produced by Johnson & Johnson, utilized the cell lines in both production and testing.

Naumann clarified that the act of receiving such a vaccine is not in itself supportive of legal abortion.

“The intrinsic evil of an abortion committed almost 50 years ago or the grave injustice almost a half of century ago of a researcher taking cells from an aborted child without donor consent are not aided or encouraged by the individual receiving the vaccination,” he said.

However, he added that those receiving such a vaccine are “obligated” to advocate for ethical vaccines with no connection to the controversial cell lines. Furthermore, Naumann affirmed the conscience rights of Catholics who refuse a COVID vaccine because of its connection to abortion.

“The most charitable and just posture is to seek to accommodate the consciences of all persons,” he said. “A society that fails to respect the rights of conscience lacks a key element of the common good.”

Priests, he added, are not obliged to issue letters in support of Catholics seeking conscience exemptions to vaccine mandates.

“In pastoral care, priests are called to help Catholics to form their consciences well and obey their conscientious judgments. However, priests need not feel compelled to sign exemption letters,” he said.

“Lay Catholics can and should insist on their conscience rights and religious liberties based on the authoritative teachings of the Church found in the Catechism, papal and ecumenical council documents, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and other sources,” he said.

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, in an Aug. 17 letter to clergy, said that while all Catholics have a “moral obligation” to protect the health of others during the pandemic, Catholics may refuse the vaccine if they “feel obligated in conscience” to do so.

However, he added, priests should not issue a letter on behalf of those refusing a COVID-19 vaccine out of conscience, as such a decision is a personal one and reflects “a more rigorous religious practice than recommended by the Roman Magisterium.” The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 2020 said the reception of a COVID vaccine with connections to the controversial cell lines is morally permissible, if no other ethical option is available.

Other U.S. bishops have also made statements on vaccine mandates and exemptions.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon said that the interest of promoting the common good during the pandemic – in receiving a vaccine – supersedes personal preferences against a vaccine. His letter to priests of the diocese, reported by KGUN 9 local news, also instructed priests not to support Catholics seeking religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.

“I fail to see how a Catholic could ask for an exemption from a vaccine mandate or mask mandate based upon their Catholic faith,” he wrote.

The Diocese of Las Vegas will not be issuing religious exemptions, according to KSNV News.

“We’re calling everyone, all people of faith and goodwill to see in the decision of the diocese the weighing of various goods, the common good and the good of health and the good of following one’s conscience,” stated Bishop Gregory Gordon of Las Vegas, reported by KSNV News.