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Archbishop disputes reporting: Chaput says N.Y. Times story is 'misleading'


10/16/2004 8:59:00 PM by Rocky Mountain News - Jean Torkelson


Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is disputing a front page story in Tuesday's The New York Times on the church and politics, saying "a lot of what I said in the original interview was simply ignored."


"I was disappointed with the misleading nature of the Times story," Chaput said in an e-mail Wednesday.


The archdiocese took the unusual step of releasing the text of the taped interview with the Times on its Web site,, and sending it to news organizations. It called the story "heavily truncated" and invited readers to compare it with the transcript.


Times reporter David Kirkpatrick was aware of being taped, Chaput's spokesman Sergio Gutierrez said. Kirkpatrick referred questions to his editor, who did not return a phone call.


The story's headline identifies Chaput as among Catholic leaders who are "using their influence to oppose (John) Kerry." The story begins by observing that, for Chaput, "the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate in Colorado, a swing state, there is only one way for a faithful Catholic to vote in this presidential election, for President Bush and against Senator Kerry."


While the story says Chaput has not endorsed a presidential candidate, it made the conclusion that for Chaput the issue on Nov. 2 is clear - to vote for Kerry is a sin.


Bishops are sensitive to charges they support a political candidate, which would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of their dioceses.


In his e-mail Wednesday, Chaput said: "The Church does not endorse candidates, has no desire to do so, and neither do I. The issues of Catholic faith and identity here are deeper and more important than politics, but they naturally impact Catholics' political choices."


In the transcript, Chaput never explicitly condemns a Kerry presidency, but discusses a range of scenarios that could occur under a president who favors policies such as abortion or embryonic stem cell research, which the Catholic Church condemns as the taking of a human life.


"If Senator Kerry is elected president and promotes the destruction of unborn children through embryonic stem cell research, what is the (Catholic) Church going to do?" Chaput asks. "If the Church challenges a President Kerry on this issue, it will appear to be interfering. If the Church remains silent, it will appear cowardly."


At another point, Chaput told the Times, "You know, abortion is never, ever, ever right, and so to elect someone who has no respect for unborn human life . . . it doesn't make any sense."


Voters are responsible for the policies of the people they elect, Chaput said. So, "the question is, 'If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?' " If the person knows it's evil, Chaput said, "the answer is yes."




Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved