Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia urged the faithful to put their faith ahead of politics, according to an interview with Catholic News Service within two weeks of the presidential election.
The Catholic leader clarified the duty of Catholics as he discussed the politics of abortion. He emphasized a need to honor God above country, of “Catholic identity taking precedence over everything.”
“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us,” he said in a new interview with the wire service. “And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,” Chaput said.
“[Abortion] is a very serious issue that requires absolute adherence on the part of Catholics,” said the Philadelphia archbishop, “and if we don’t stand united on this issue we’re bound to failure—not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom.”
Leaders of the Pennsylvania Catholics’ Network, a grassroots lay organization, said Wednesday they endorsed Chaput’s stance.
“That Archbishop Chaput would give an interview with the official news outlet of the USCCB two weeks before the election attests once again to both his courage and his determination to clarify the teaching of the church regarding the priority of the settled issues, such as life and marriage, to Catholic voters,” said PCN President Deal Hudson in a statement. “The PCN commends his courage and implores all Catholics to cling to Chaput’s teaching to put God ahead of politics as they make their election-day decisions.”
“As Catholics, we believe in the dignity and worth of each human person,” said PCN Executive Director Ted Meehan in a statement. “This recognition leads to both democracy and free enterprise. These are the blessings which have brought freedom and greatness to America. America’s greatness comes from the virtue of its people, not from dependence upon its government.”