Sebelius vs. Archbishop Naumann

By Jacqueline L. Salmon Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is Catholic, was on the hot seat yesterday at a Senate … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is Catholic, was on the hot seat yesterday at a Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of Health and Human Services. But it couldn’t have been nearly as tense as her relationship with her bishop, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

There’s a fascinating little interview with Naumann at the Web site of Catholics for Faith and Family. In it, Naumann lays out the struggles he has gone through with Sebelius, who supports abortion rights and has vetoed several bills in Kansas to impose new restrictions on abortion providers or regulations on clinics.

Clearly, Naumann does not take kindly to defiance from his flock. And he doesn’t hesitate to play hardball.

In the interview, Naumann says that after months of a “long dialogue” with the governor, he wrote her a letter, warning her privately not to present herself for Communion. But, he said, a parish priest informed him that she had done so.

Naumann pulled out the hammer. He went public. He proclaimed that the Kansas governor should not “present herself” for Holy Communion until she changed her stance on abortion. He told the Kansas City Star that would involve a confession, a public apology and a promise to undo the damage done by her “scandalous behavior that has misled people into dangerous behavior.”

That’s unusual. Bishops tend to treat conversations with parishioners over such spiritual matters as confidential. But Sebelius certainly got Naumann’s dander up.

Naumann contends in the Catholics for Faith interview, conducted by organization president Thomas McKenna, that he was concerned about “others being misled by her presenting herself as a faithful Catholic while holding positions that were completely contrary to our teaching on the sancity of life.”

For what it’s worth, Naumann also lays into Obama, saying that “anyone this president appoints is not going to be someone who is sensitive to the sanctity of life.”

The guy doesn’t pull any punches.

  • NMremote

    Just how much time and energy (not to mention electrons and trees) are wasted talking about the absurd notion that religion matters. What a crock – just another means to distract people from thinking and talking about real issues, like who is taking the money to the bank, what are we going to do about overpopulation, and how can we stop pollution and global warming.The case for Religion has run its course and there is no longer any need to burn witches or hold an inquisition.

  • mrgavel

    As a Christian who attends an Episcopal Church, I would love for the Governor and Secretary designate to become an Episcopalian. Hopefully, church leaders like the Archbishop of Kansas City will convince liberal Democrats to leave the Catholic Church and become Episcopalians. Both the Archbishops and the liberal Democrats would, in the long run, be happier.

  • vicsoir

    It is impossible for anyone to desecrate the Catholic Church. It has been on a mission of self-destruction since its inception the past two millenia. This is just the latest caper out of the mouth of an uneducated disciple who has swallowed whole the church’s demand to accept its creed or be burnt at the stake.

  • davewyman

    Does the archbishop ever argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Pins are real, while angels – and gods – exist only in the human mind. So it is with the rules laid down by the Catholic Church. They are inventions of the human mind.The bishop thinks a governor violates the rules of Catholicism? Well, the governor thinks the bishop’s rules are wrong. As it turns out, there is no god to judge who’s right and who’s wrong, at least not one who cares about events on earth.

  • Santino_50

    As a Democrat and a life-long practicing Catholic, I am embarrassed by the Archbishop’s public statements and petulant attitude. Because I also live in the Kansas City, KS Archdiocese, I have read the rivers of ink Naumann has spilled in the diocesan weekly newspaper. He lobbied long and passionately for President Obama’s defeat. Still, a majority of Catholics preferred the President to Naumann’s political support of Sen. McCain. He’s been playing “sour grapes” ever since. Gov. Sebellius is a faithfully practicing Catholic who reserves the right to think for herself in the political arena. Her dignity stands in sad contrast to the Bishop’s public tantrums.

  • oldbob

    The good Archbishop cannot be a Jesuit. His thinking is too linear and simple. The national issue is whether abortion should be criminalized, not eliminated. The highest incidence of abortion is in Latin America, where it is criminalized. The lowest rate is in Belgium and the Netherlands, where it is legal. The difference is poverty and the lack of education. If the Archbishop is truly committed to lowering the incidence of abortion, he should be mobilizing his parishes to demand the elimination of poverty and the availability of affordable education for all. Until then, he deserves our contempt.

  • choirgirl04

    I’m a bit confused as to how people think this is an entanglement of church and state. First and foremost, the governor is Catholic. The job of bishops is to guide Catholics and teach them the doctrines of the church. She has, very public, demonstrated that 1) she doesn’t know/understand the teachings of the church or 2) she doesn’t think they are very relevent. The bishops are speaking to her in her capacity as a Catholic, and a very high-profile one, who makes decisions that are clearly at odds with what she is supposed to believe as a Catholic.

  • poorrichard

    Crticizing the bishop is an ‘anti-catholic’ tirade?Could it be that making this a confirmation issue of Sebelius is in fact and anti-catholic tirade being led against her by a cynical anti-catholic conservative Right. It wasn’t too long ago (in the grand scheme of the Republic) that crosses were being burned in front of Catholic Homes.However, I am much more offended by the American Catholic Bishops willingness to support agendas that while are pro-life, also support pro-gun, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-antihuman rights agendas of the conservative Right.Once I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were being cynically coopted by Karl Rove’s Machevelian efforts to get Bush re-elected using the support of a Catholic community that would never have supported him otherwise.No more. The Bishops are in this willingly. No Catholic politician has a chance to be successful given the self-destructive actions of the Church leadership.

  • yankeechess

    I love the hypo of the catholic church. They want everyone to respect the sanctity of life (anti-abortion) and they violite the sanctity of life once the baby is delivered as in child molestation! They have known since the early fifties that their molesting priest were basically unchangeable Psyco-wise, were warned about it, but ignored all the warnings and kept these sick priests roaming amongst their flock, transferring them from one congregation to another with no concern for all the children they would be in continuing contact with! And they want us all to respect the sanctity of Life! Better to be aborted then molested by sicko priests!

  • seattle_wa

    This so-called Bishop ought to be excommunicated, for violating the “confessional seal”. Any private “dialogue” he has with anyone, anyone at all, is to be taken to the grave.By his actions, he has violated his Holy Orders, he has brought scandal to the Church, and he should be held responsible. Anything less is unacceptable.

  • brotherbraids

    Jesus said to His disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” John 15:18-19. Whether 1st Century Roman persecution, Reign of Terror in the French Revolution “Enlightenment”, Communist persecution in the 20th Century or hatred in speech on a 4/1/09 Washington Post website, it’s amazing how anti-Catholic hatred was predicted in advance by this “superstitious” religion.

  • yankeechess

    Also, isn’t this the same church that had its own army during the middle ages and had imprisoned or killed anyone who went against the teachings of the church. Didn’t the pope sanction and encourage the slaughter of the French Huguenots in Paris? Wasn’t this the same church that fought the 100 year’s war against Protestants where it is estimated that over one hundred million people died? Wasn’t this the same church that chose Hitler and the Nazi over the so-called Soviet “evil empire” and stood silently by as millions of Jews and numerous catholic priests were being executed in Nazi death camps? And this same Catholic Church want’s everyone else to respect the sanctity of Life? Right! Their hypocrisy abounds and knows no limits! I tend to wonder who Bishop Naumann’s last child victim was!

  • yankeechess

    If Bishp Naumann had his way, he would bring us back the Spanish Inquisition, with all of its respect for the sanctity of life!

  • sidprejean

    I’m not sure how Catholic – or even non-Catholic – elected officials who support, and in fact bring about, capital punishment seem to get a pass from the so-called “pro-life” folks.

  • JimZ1

    Why can’t Naumann be arrested for blackmailing a public official? (We should take away his tax exempt status while we’re at it.)

  • JimZ1

    Funny, Naumann’s efforts virtually assure that he won’t get his way. Any favorable action on Sebelius’s part would constitute a quid pro quo; rendering a political favor in exchange for holy communion.

  • Garak

    “Changing the subject to pedophile priests is a red herring.”Oh, no it is not! It is entirely relevant.By his own admission, the bishop makes a moral argument on behalf of his church. Because it is a moral argument, the morals of the church are in play. Do this because we say it is the right thing to do. OK, let’s look at the moral standard you claim to uphold, and see where it goes. Straight into pedophilia. The church that aided and abetted child molestation simply has no right to complain about the morals of others. Didn’t the alleged founder of the church say “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? Or do the teaching of Jesus apply only when bolstering the church’s position?The church says homosexuality is “an objective disorder.” Catholicism is the real objective disorder.

  • wbonner2

    Get your facts straight!The Bishop is in full compliance with all laws and is following Catholic doctrine as well as his responsibilities within the church. Two of those responsibilites are to teach Catholic doctrine and protect members of the church from grave sin. He is doing both in regards to Sebelius. Whether or not you agree with Sebelius’ actions or not the objective facts are that those actions are contrary to Catholic doctrine. It is the Bishop’s job to make that clear to Sebelius and anyone who may be influenced by her actions. Would anyone here object to a Policeman instructing Sebelius on speeding laws if she exceeded the speed limit? Lastly, understand that denial of communion is not a punishment but rather protection from the Catholic point of view. If Sebelius truely follows the Catholic faith and receives communion in a state of grave sin, she has condemned herself and created scandal to others. These are not my opinions, nor the Bishop’s. They are objective facts concerning Catholic doctrine which you can verify from any number of Catholic resources on the Internet.

  • rahard


  • aeaustin

    Catholicism remains in the Middle Ages….

  • mrgavel

    Here’s the underlying problem: The Church believes that life begins at conception, but a lot of Americans do not, including some who are from Kansas. This means that attempts to put such a doctrine into law are going to be resisted by a lot of Americans. Pro-choice politicians do not compel people who believe that life begins at conception to get an abortion, but anti-choice politicians would prohibit people who believe that life doesn’t begin at conception from getting an abortion. In short, they would use to the power of the State to enforce their own religious beliefs. Such a use of the law is going to be met with a lot of resistance and, as Harry Truman, once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

  • brotherbraids

    Ad hominem arguments. Quoting out of context. A lot of people without reasoning skills posting. Didn’t anyone ever take a logic course?Garak quotes Jesus out of context “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jn 8:7. A few verses later Jesus tells her “Go and sin no more.” Jn 8:11.Jesus also said “If your brother sins… go and tell him his fault between you and him alone….If he does not listen…tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector.” Mt 18:15-18IN CONTEXT, Jesus forgave the woman her sin and admonished her not to do it again. He also told his followers that if a sinner (the Kansas Governor) continues in her sin and “refuses to listen even to the Church”, she is to be treated as a Gentile or tax collector (i.e., refused full communion in the Church). This comes from the founder Himself (who the vast majority of non-Christians consider to be a great and wise teacher, but not God). Why is Garak (and all other Church haters) opposed to this great moral teacher’s teachings? Could it be that they don’t actually understand His teachings? And instead have some sort of incorrect perception of Him? Perhaps one should become familiar with His teachings before quoting them out of context to make a point. Stop reading the cliff notes (bad cliff notes at that). Read the text. In Context!!Your problem isn’t with the Cardinal or the Catholic Church or its history. Your problem is with its founder. His teachings always draw hatred (and illogical arguments, btw). That’s why He was crucified. Stop dealing with His middlemen and lackeys. Go right to the top. The buck stops there. These are His teachings. Criticize Him.

  • dotellen

    Well, the leaders of the Catholic church have a long history or intimidation, torture, murder, etc. Gallileo was told to recant his scientific papers that proved the earth circles the sun, not the other way around, or be burned at the stake. I think the Pope apologized for that one some 300 years later.They did burn Joan of Arc at the stake, and many others. They tortured during the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, the Dark Ages are called that mainly because of the influence of the Catholic church. Naumann would no doubt have Sebelius burned at the stake if he could get away with it. Thank the God of the rest of us that we live in slightly more civilized times.

  • Maryann261

    More important is her failure to pay taxes. Sebelius referred to this as an “unitended mistake.” Politicians are going to run out of ways to describe tax evasion. Audit all polticians every year. Let’s see how much they aren’t paying.

  • ChangeWhat

    How about Sebelius versus the US Treasury. I have searched high and low in this rag and cannot find any info about her tax “oversight”. Also known as not paying taxes. What is it about this administration that to be a part of it require you not to pay taxes. I pay taxes. Guess that’s why I have not been called to serve in this corrupt fraudulent administration.

  • spatula

    Fine. Excommunicate her. Who gives a flying crap! Catholicism is all hoo-ha anyway, as are all religions. She seems to be a decent person who will make a fine HHS Secretary.

  • jacksprat1

    Yet another Catholic Bishop telling elected officials how to act and think. I too am against abortion unless the result of incest, rape or endangering the mothers life. But who in h…. has given these white haired old men the right to decide who is or isn’t elected based upon one issue. Please God save us from religion.

  • mwest04

    Let’s remember what just went on in Brazil, where doctors and family members who saved the life of a 9-year old girl pregnant with twins through sexual abuse (I think incestual)were excommunicated by the RCC. And, by the way, the abusive father or stepfather wasn’t excommunicated.The RCC is morally bankrupt in terms of how it views “the sanctity of life.”

  • snapclohessy

    It’ frustrating to see Naumann work so hard on something he can’t change (one non-offending adult’s opinion) and so little on something he can change (preventing child sex crimes by a number of clergy).While a bishop here in St. Louis, Naumann publicly backed an accused predator priest friend of his, refusing to suspend the cleric or do even a cursory investigation of the allegation. Naumann even let the priest sue his accuser. (The priest lost when the case was settled out of court and the victim was paid $22,500.)Yes, abortion is a valid and significant issue. But so is child sexual abuse and cover up. Let’s hope Naumann focuses some of his energy on the church’s on-going crisis.David Clohessy

  • gladerunner

    As far as ‘god in government’ goes the Archbishop’s rantings are loud, but ultimately irrelevant. If it reaches the point where Sebelius, et al, knuckles under and then works to implement public policy based on the catholic church’s edicts and mandates, THEN we have a god in government issue. Whether or not Sebelius’ personal body and soul is excommunicated from the private club that is the church, or she’s just not allowed to eat and drink jesus with her family and friends anymore is not a ‘government’ issue at all.

  • dennissuper

    The Catholic church should lose its non-tax status. They have entered the arena of politics and as such should have to pay to play.When the church hierarchy decided to become the biggest group of hipocrites in the world by shielding pedophile priests, they lost my respect. In my opinion, ANY bishop that knew about sexual assault of children should have been charged as an accomplice and prosecuted as such.That means YOU, Naumann.

  • sharpjfa

    This is not political.The Governor can do whatever she (lawfully) pleases in government. The Cardinal is saying that if she does, with regard to abortion, she should not get communion.Hardly political. It’s a faith/religion thing.Religious leaders are allowed to set conditions within their religion. In additon, abortion and the death penalty are very differnt faith, moral issues within the Catholic Church.They consider abortion to be a horrible sin. The death penalty is no sin.

  • SeahawksSuck

    Here you go Changewhat –

  • Rich393

    Naumann has clearly crossed the line. But so what? If ya’ll think that God(s) worshipers aren’t involved in our government, you’re delusional. Go ask any Gay person why (s)he doesn’t enjoy his/her Constitutional rights.

  • sasmontagova

    It’s possible to be personally opposed to abortion while at the same time being opposed to the government interfering in a very private medical matter between a woman and her doctor. A decision not not have an abortion is a personal one, and is based on personal beliefs. Outlawing the practice is tantamount to forcing your personal religious beliefs on others. No one should have control over what a woman can do with her body, especially the government!Outlawing abortions isn’t going to stop them or even put a dent in them. If there’s a need then women will seek them. If you want to reduce abortions, then reduce the need for them.

  • yankeechess

    Sharp JFA, problem is there really is no distinction between the two. I believe the commandment says “Thou shalt not kill!” Not the shall not kill unless, or if. It is quite blanket! THOU SHALT NOT KILL! That is why most everyone finds hypocrisy in not only the RCC, but most fundamental faiths! The Religious Right is as pro death penalty as they are pro-life! Save those few cells at conception, but to hell with them once they are born! The Right will do nothing, offer no compassion nor help once unwanted kids are born! They stupidly believe that all women who would have normally gotten an abortion, and are forced to carry their babies to term, will have a change of heart and become caring wonderful born again mothers! When the facts are that most don’t suddenly become good caring mothers and the unwanted kids end up suffering because of it! So, in a sense, you are forcing many of these kids to live in a world they’d rather not be in! It becomes a living hell for many of them! Just one look at a ghetto will tell you all you need to know about troubled unwanted kids! Pro-Lifers are extremely selfish people who care for no one but a few cells that may or not be developing in someone else s womb! I have never seen a pro-choice person do harm or kill other people, but many pro-lifers are killers in their own right! There are no pro-choice people serving prison sentences, but plenty of pro-life people are! Pro-Lifers are society’s real killers! and the worse thing is they are unapologetic and proud of killing others! and the RCC has really never spoken out against them! Just some small lip service!

  • eabgarnet

    Would the same noises be made if she were a Protestant and a clergy member of her denomination did the exact same thing as Bishop Naumann?

  • carrollpdx

    Does Bishop Naumann intend to interrogate the remainder of the Catholics in his diocese on their views on abortion and birth control?

  • tomoakley1

    Demanding anything beyond a confession and private penance is outside the authority of Naumann, but he’s free to blow hot air all he wants. Likewise, Sibelius is a competent adult and thus can handle her religion as she sees fit. But Naumann’s level of provocation / interference / lobbying to influence governmental activities in such direct fashion should be prompting the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the archdiocese.

  • boredbybaseball

    Changing the subject to pedophile priests is a red herring. It is only one of the problems the Church faces, but it is not pertinent to the subject of abortion.The Archbishop takes the position that if someone claims to be Catholic and presents herself for Communion, she has to live by the teaching of the Church. Actively promoting abortion is considered a serious sin by the Catholic Church, and taking the Eucharist in such a state of sin is a desecration of the sacrament, and another serious sin. It is the Archbishop’s duty to warn the offender, and try to prevent such behavior by a someone subject to his teaching and authority.He had no choice but to go public when confronted by her defiance. She is a public figure capable of doing serious damage. While he can speak out against abortion to everyone, he does not presume to admonish non-Catholics (unless they try to go to Communion). So keep your anti-Catholic tirades to yourself. You are butting in where you not right to butt in. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and bishops do not take polls to decided which is which. If you have something seriously pertinent to say, it is welcome. But I cannot imagine what it would be.

  • Blue_Moose

    It’s really simple. If Archbishop Neuman meddles in politics his archdiocese should lose any and all tax exemptions.

  • Alex511

    fr dotherightthing:>”Is it really true that non-elected members of the Roman Catholic Church are making every possible effort publicly to humiliate an elected member of a democratic government in the Land of the Free?” The true answer is, “NO! …No, the true answer is YES. This so-called “leader” of a local parish has absolutely NO right whatsoever to harangue and belittle a member of the Church, simply because he thinks he’s a little tin god. He sounds like he’s a bully, insisting on getting his own way. He needs to be booted out of office, NOW. NO pension, NO benefits, NO housing.

  • francisco1

    Is it really true that non-elected members of the Roman Catholic Church are making every possible effort publicly to humiliate an elected member of a democratic government in the Land of the Free? This is a harmful abuse of power which will have long-lasting consequences.

  • DoTheRightThing

    “Is it really true that non-elected members of the Roman Catholic Church are making every possible effort publicly to humiliate an elected member of a democratic government in the Land of the Free?” The true answer is, “NO! The member of the government insists upon behaving in a manner unacceptable to an organization to which she says she wants to belong, and, after counseling her privately for YEARS to change her behavior, the organization has decided to protect other members from infection by her years-long bad example.”

  • yankeechess

    The RCC is a useless hypocrite anyway, and Sebelius should leave the church period! And Changewhat, Show me one person in the administration who is now actively serving, who has not paid taxes! The ones that are, admitted mistakes and paid up what was due to the IRS! More then i can say about most republicans who don’t bother to hide their stealing–they just do it up front and to hell with everyone else! 99% of these people were honest enough to admit they made some mistakes. These people caught their own mistakes and admitted them publicly! Bush’s administration was so secretive and corrupt that we will probably never know the huge extent of their cheating on taxes, ripping off the treasury, etc.

  • mwest04

    Paul Bradford noted that the case in Brazil, involving a 9-year old girl’s abortion to save her life, which resulted in several excommuniations, brought an interesting response from the Vatican. And that is true, as the bio-ethics advisor Archbishop Rino Fisichella has said that in the case of the girl, the doctor’s decision to abort the twins she carried was, essentially, the lesser of two evils.I am grateful and delighted for this reconsideration by the Vatican, but it still leaves women and girls at the mercy of having a Catholic representative able to judge and comment on health issues regarding reproduction.It is estimated that a half-million poor women every year die from lack of reproductive care–due to back alley abortions or their inability to stop a pregnancy if they are in a high-risk situation. I think the Catholic Church should take these numbers into consideration, and stop its intrusion into healthcare.