Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - "You can't be both Catholic and pro-abortion" declares a full-page advertisement appearing in Wednesday's edition of the Washington Times. The ad - designed to replicate a wanted poster - identifies 12 U.S. Senators under the headline "The Deadly Dozen" and declares them "Wanted for fraudulently claiming the Catholic faith."
On the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion during all nine months of pregnancy, Judie Brown - president of the group American Life League (ALL) that sponsored the ad - said she and other Catholics are tired of waiting for bishops to take corrective action against public officials who openly violate church law.
"We have waited patiently, out of respect for the hierarchy of the church, for [bishops] to do something," Brown said. "But this is the 30th anniversary of decriminalized child-killing. We're not waiting anymore."
Since the beginning of the first century, the Catholic Church has defined abortion as "an intrinsic moral evil," not permissible under any circumstances.
ALL's ad campaign identifies Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) as "Openly pro-abortion 'Catholic[s].'"
In a letter to each lawmaker's bishop, Brown pleaded for disciplinary action.
"I trust you share our concern that many openly pro-abortion politicians continue to claim membership in the Catholic Church and to receive the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist," Brown wrote.
"As you can see, we reference the authority of Canon Law 915 and call on all bishops to actively prevent openly pro-abortion politicians like the 12 in this ad from receiving Holy Communion," she added.
The Catholic Church's Canon Law 915 states that "Those who...obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Communion."
One bishop had already responded to the letter. Rev. Robert Carlson, bishop of Sioux Falls, replied to Brown's concerns as they relate to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
"[W]hile Senator Thomas Daschle lists himself as a Catholic, it is my understanding that he neither attends church nor receives Holy Communion on the rare occasions when he is in church," Carlson wrote. "I have documented this, and again would be interested if you have information to the contrary."
Brown also wrote each senator on the list to inform them in advance of the planned publication of the ads and seek their comments or rebuttal.
"You profess to be Catholic, and yet you deviate from the teaching of Christ and the Church in this gravest of earthly concerns - the willful taking of innocent human life," she wrote, informing each senator of the call for intervention by local bishops.
"[Y]ou will remain in our daily prayers, as we wait for your heart to be turned away from this evil and for your sincere repentance," Brown concluded. "We pray that you will seek to restore your standing as a faithful member of the Catholic Church."
ALL has received no response from any of the senators.
Alex Glass, a spokeswoman for Murray, responded on the senator's behalf.
"Patty Murray has worked to reduce the number of abortions in this country by expanding access to safe and affordable family planning alternatives," Glass told CNSNews.com, reading from a prepared statement. "She invites her critics to join in her efforts."
In an emailed statement, Sen. Christopher Dodd's (D-Conn.) spokeswoman, Ryan McGinn, acknowledged Dodd's pro-abortion position. She claimed, however, that he respects those who disagree with him and believes individuals on both sides of the debate should seek "common ground."
"There is no place in America for personal attacks on those with whom one disagrees," McGinn wrote. "Ultimately, Senator Dodd's religious views are a personal matter between him and God."
None of the nine other senators' offices returned calls seeking comment for this article.
The campaign is expected to cost "hundreds of thousands" of dollars, according to Brown, who said phase one of the effort will include newspaper ads in each senator's hometown, as well as radio and television ads and banners on buses. Phases two and three of the ad campaign will focus on members of the House of Representatives.
"We have more than 100 elected officials who identify themselves as Catholic and are, at the same time, pro-abortion," Brown explained. "In order to carry on the theme of the 'Deadly Dozen,' we'll have to do 12 at a time. I think it will probably take us all of the year 2003 to expose them."
ALL officials said an investigation is currently underway to identify any governors who claim to be Catholic but are openly pro-abortion. No decision has yet been made as to whether or not a similar ad campaign might follow based on that investigation.
Brown said the group will publicize any responses they receive either from bishops or lawmakers, as well as the absence of a response.
"We've had, over the years...in the hundreds of complaints [like] 'Why doesn't my bishop do something about this?'" she said, explaining the primary motivation for her frustration. "If you do not have the right to life, you have no rights at all."
The print ad was refused by eight of the 12 Catholic newspapers in the dioceses where the senators live. One responded in writing that the "tone" of the ad might be offensive to some readers.
"My response to the editors so far has been that abortion is 'offensive' to babies, too," Brown concluded. "It kills them."
The pdf file of ALL's "Deadly Dozen" ad.
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