Associated Press, October 26, 2004
Vatican Lays Out
Social Doctrine; Denies Trying to Affect US
VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican handbook released yesterday
laid out Roman Catholic Church teaching questioning
preventive war and denouncing the ''horrendous
crime" of abortion. But Vatican officials
sidestepped questions on whether the war in
Iraq was illegal or whether Catholics can vote
for candidates who back laws permitting abortion.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls intervened
at a news conference when a top Vatican cardinal
was asked whether the faithful can cast ballots
for a candidate who supports legalized abortion.
''The Holy See never gets involved in electoral
or political questions directly," he said.
Senator John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential
candidate, is a Catholic who has said that
while he is personally opposed to abortion,
he upholds the right of women to have one.
Pope John Paul II has vigorously championed the
Vatican's longstanding opposition to abortion,
which was denounced as a ''horrendous crime"
in the Vatican document released yesterday.
''Far from being a right, it is a sad phenomenon,"
Some US church officials, such as Archbishop
Raymond Burke of St. Louis, have said Kerry
should be denied the sacrament of Communion.
Navarro-Valls said bishops, if they desired,
could weigh in on campaign issues to ''illuminate
the consciences of the faithful with ethical
elements so they can make a judgment"
Officials at the news conference described the
524-page compilation of doctrine as a kind
of handbook that could help business, political,
and cultural leaders.
Appearing to break no new ground, the volume
quoted extensively from, and offered reflections
on, writings and speeches by Pope John Paul
II and previous pontiffs on matters including
preventive war, terrorism, the death penalty,
immigration, workers' rights, poverty, globalization,
free markets, and human rights.
Under the heading ''legitimate defense,"
the compendium said ''a preventive war without
clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot
fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions."
Arguing that the war in Iraq was necessary, the
Bush administration said in the run-up to the
conflict that Iraq harbored weapons of mass
destruction. No such weapons have been found.
In an apparent reference to the United Nations,
the document said ''international legitimacy
for the use of armed forces, on the basis of
rigorous assessment and with well-founded motivations,
can only be given by the decision of a competent
body that identifies specific situations as
threats to peace and authorizes an intrusion
into the sphere of autonomy usually reserved
for a state."
The former Vatican envoy to the United Nations,
Cardinal Renato Martino, was asked whether
''in hindsight," the US-led war against
Iraq would be ''illegal" in the eyes of
the church. Martino replied: ''Did you read
the address of the pope to President Bush?"
Martino was referring to the pontiff's words
to Bush last June. In that address, John Paul
expressed ''grave concern" about events
in Iraq and his desire for achievement of ''normalization."
<< Associated Press -- 10/26/04 >>
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