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CATHOLIC POLITICIANS MUST WEIGH AMBITIONS

Your June 19 editorial on Catholic politicians and abortion omitted several relevant considerations.

First, Catholic politicians have in fact been excommunicated for disobeying and treating with contempt the teachings of their bishop. Your readers may wonder how the facile claims made in your editorial would apply to the case of Catholic politicians in Mississippi who were excommunicated for opposing civil rights.

The Catholic Church maintains that anyone who performs or counsels an abortion removes himself from the community of believers. Gov. Cuomo, by his absolute denial that the fetus has the right of life, by his supercilious criticism of Cardinal O'Connor, and by his cynical attempt to profit politically from lingering anti-Catholic bigotry, has come perilously close to excommunicating himself.

Your editorial implies that in the interest of pluralism and democracy the church should tolerate one law for politicians and another for ordinary believers. Your insistence on the diversity of viewpoints is dishonest. You must know that there is no shortage of politicians who claim that abortion should be legal. The public welfare does not require that Catholic politicians should be allowed to cause scandal among their fellow Catholics and to undermine the teaching authority of their bishops.

You might have reminded your readers that no one is forced to remain a Catholic. Gov. Cuomo is free to withdraw himself from the church if his political ambition to represent all the people is inconsistent with his religious beliefs. It was not Cardinal O'Connor who first raised the possibility of excommunication, but thousands of laymen who urged the cardinal not to abdicate his responsibility of guiding the faithful, especially in such a serious issue as abortion.

The Buffalo News seems to believe that the bishops' responsibility to maintain a community of faith in accordance with tradition is an attempt to foist a theocracy on a pluralistic society. The media and those who call themselves "pro-choice" are trying to convey the impression that abortion is somehow a religious issue. It is rather an ethical and humanist issue that may at this time have religious implications when politicians refuse to make a frank and honest choice between their political ambitions and their conscience.

BRENDAN BROWN
Buffalo

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