Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oregonians: Contact the Governor

SALEM -- Archbishop John Vlazny is criticizing Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Catholic, for playing host to an abortion rights fundraiser Friday night in Portland.

Vlazny, head of the Archdiocese of Portland, said it's an embarrassment and a scandal for Catholics that Kulongoski is hosting the event two days before the church conducts its annual "Respect Life" mass in Portland to show opposition to abortion.

"For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the church," Vlazny said in a statement today.

Kulongoski is a longtime supporter of a woman's right to choose an abortion.

"The archbishop is the governor's pastor, and he has only respect and admiration for the archbishop," Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor said. "They obviously disagree on the issue of choice."

Kulongoski and his wife, Mary Oberst, are the honorary hosts of Friday night's fundraising dinner for NARAL Pro Choice Oregon. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is among those scheduled to speak. The event is to be held at a Portland hotel.

Kulongoski has attended various fundraising events for the group over the years.

NARAL spokeswoman Laura Taylor had no comment on the disagreement, but she said the governor's support for abortion rights is welcome.

"We are honored to have the governor and first lady as hosts of our event," Taylor said.

Kulongoski isn't the first Catholic politician who's taken heat from church leaders over a pro-abortion rights stance.

Earlier this year, New York Cardinal Edward Egan said Rudy Giuliani should not have received Holy Communion during the pope's visit because the former New York City mayor supports abortion rights.

Communion and abortion rights also became an issue in 2004, when Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Catholic, came under scrutiny for supporting abortion rights in conflict with church teaching.

Most bishops who have spoken about Communion and the responsibility of Catholic politicians have done so in general terms without naming names.

That's been the case in Oregon, where Vlazny has, without naming any specific politicians, said that Catholic officeholders who disagree with church teachings should refrain from receiving Communion.

The archbishop hasn't refused Kulongoski permission to receive communion, archdiocese spokesman Bud Bunce said.

However, Vlazny today called abortion a "grave evil," and urged Catholics to contact Kulongoski's office about Friday's fundraiser "to remind him of the demands of personal integrity as a member of our faith community in the exercise of his office."

The governor's office hadn't gotten any phone calls as of this afternoon, Richter Taylor said.

-- The Associated Press

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