- The Washington Times
Thursday, April 1, 2021

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is facing calls from the left to remove Archbishop Joseph Naumann as chairman of a key committee over his criticism of President Biden, but a who’s-who of pro-life and Catholic leaders has come to the prelate’s defense.

CatholicVote has gathered more than 43,000 signatures on a petition in support of Archbishop Naumann, who said in February that Mr. Biden “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic” and suggested that he stop taking communion.

The signers include Princeton professor Robert George; Ethics and Public Policy Center president Ryan T. Anderson; Notre Dame law professor Gerard V. Bradley; and pro-life leaders Marjorie Dannenfelser, Kristen Day, Kristan Hawkins, Abby Johnson and Jeanne Mancini.

“We understand that your admonition of President Joe Biden, whose campaign was both funded and endorsed by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, did not make you popular in some quarters,” said the March 25 petition, adding, “We thank you for your courage in transmitting ‘sound doctrine’ and for your commitment to defending the most vulnerable among us.”

The show of support came after Faithful America, a group of progressives dedicated to “acting for social justice,” posted a March 18 letter on the Action Network calling for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to remove Archbishop Naumann as chairman of its committee on pro-life activities.

“We encourage you to select a new leader who will refrain from attacking the president’s personal faith, speak consistently about all life issues, work through sincere differences with respect, and join Pope Francis in seeking common ground with the administration,” said the letter, which has gained nearly 20,000 signatures.

Certainly the archbishop of Kansas City has not been shy about expressing his thoughts on Mr. Biden, saying that the Catholic president was “acting contrary to church teaching” with his staunch pro-choice agenda in a Feb. 13 interview with the Catholic World Report.

“What he is doing now is usurping the role of the bishops and confusing people,” said Archbishop Naumann. “He’s declaring that he’s Catholic, and is going to force people to support abortion through their tax dollars. The bishops need to correct him, as the president is acting contrary to the Catholic faith.”

He also sided with Rev. Robert Morey, now retired, of St. Anthony Church in Florence, South Carolina, who refused in 2019 to give then-candidate Biden Holy Communion at Mass.

Mr. Biden “should not put the priest in the situation where he has to decide whether or not to allow him to receive the Eucharist. He should know that after 78 years as a Catholic,” said the archbishop.

Faithful America said the archbishop was “already far more critical of the new president than he ever was of Donald Trump,” despite the former president’s “deadly policies” on the novel coronavirus, climate change and immigration.

Mr. Trump, who was raised Presbyterian, said last year that he now identifies as a non-denominational Christian.

“In questioning President Biden‘s faith and even claiming he should not receive Communion, Archbishop Naumann is choosing the culture wars over pastoral leadership,” said the letter.

The CatholicVote petition accused the Faithful America letter of “character assassination” and noted that Pope Francis once compared abortion to “hiring a hitman.”

“The letter likewise falsely accuses you of failing to ‘seek common ground’ with a President who, on the one hand, talks about the importance of his Catholic faith, and with his other hand, personally signed Executive Orders that will directly lead to the deaths of thousands of unborn children,” said the petition.

Shortly after taking office, Mr. Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy, which bans foreign-aid funding for abortions abroad, and ordered federal agencies to review Trump-era policies barring Title IX family-planning funding recipients from making abortion referrals.

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