Kansas City, Kan. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Kansas City, Kan., isn’t backing off his criticism of the nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for health and human services secretary.
“I don’t think I have any influence on who’s going to be the next secretary of HHS,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann said, but “I felt I had to exercise my teaching authority for the good of the Catholic community.”
Earlier this month, Naumann said he was “concerned personally” for Sebelius and that he found her nomination “particularly troubling.”
Last year, Naumann urged Sebelius, who is Catholic, to stop taking communion until she repudiated her abortion rights views. She never replied publicly about that or Naumann’s latest comments.
But some people take issue with his statements about Sebelius, as well as other comments about social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.
In a column before the November election, Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese argued that while Catholics “may and do” disagree over the death penalty, war and other issues, abortion and gay marriage are always evil and more politically important.
“This has the appearance that the church is involved in partisan politics,” said Chris Korzen, a spokesman for Catholics United, which supports Sebelius’ nomination.
Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, pointed out that Naumann appeared on a talk show with conservative host Laura Ingraham in early May and that his communion guidance to Sebelius last year was publicized by his office, not the governor.
But Rockhurst University philosophy professor Brendan Sweetman, who wrote “Why Politics Needs Religion,” said Naumann’s statements are proper and explainable.
“I think he’s judging that it’s such a serious question that he needs to do something about it,” Sweetman said.