- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

The Second National Catholic Prayer Breakfast yesterday rallied local faithful with moving speeches from President Bush and Colorado Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, both of whom praised Pope Benedict XVI and politicians who adhere to Catholic doctrine.

‘Catholics and non-Catholics alike can take heart in the man who sits on the chair of St. Peter because he speaks with affection about the American model of liberty rooted in moral conviction,’ Mr. Bush said to 1,600 guests at the Washington Hilton.

Roman Catholic voters were crucial to Mr. Bush’s re-election last year: 52 percent chose him over Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic, who garnered 47 percent of their vote.

Archbishop Chaput told the audience that their faith should affect ?our political decisions,? adding that public officials who aren’t pro-life are ‘either very confused or they’re very evasive.’

‘If God is at the center of our lives, then of course that fact will influence our behavior, including our political decisions,’ he added.

Catholics must work to keep religion from being banished from public discourse, he added, because: ‘Our bigger task is to help renew American public life by committing ourselves ever more deeply to our Catholic faith and acting like we really mean it.’

To be silent, he said, ‘can be a very serious kind of theft from the moral treasury of the nation because the most precious thing anyone can bring to any political conversation is an honest witness to what he or she really believes.’

‘This applies to elected officials,’ he added. ‘It applies to voters. It applies to you and me.

‘When public officials claim to be ‘Catholic’ but then say they can’t offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things. They’re either very confused or they’re very evasive,’ he said.

During an interview after the speech, Archbishop Chaput said he had talked with one of Colorado’s newest elected officials, Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat and a Catholic, many times and that the way to influence such conversations ‘is through personal conversation. I think they listen.’

He also said has no plans to deny the senator Holy Communion, as a handful of bishops have suggested the church do with pro-choice politicians.

‘Catholics should decide for themselves whether they are in communion [with the church] and then they make decispions from there,’ Archbishop Chaput said. The only exception is if they act publicly, such as casting a vote that is contrary to Catholic teaching, he added. ?Then I’d say something.?

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