Mayor Giuliani Responds to Bishop Tobin, Sort Of

At last night’s Republican Presidential debate televised on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked Mayor Rudolph Giuliani about Bishop Thomas Tobin’s criticism of his position on abortion.
The joking and laughter at the beginning of the excerpt concerns a lightning strike that interfered with the Mayor’s answer…

Wolf Blitzer: Mayor Giuliani, there was some news here today. A Catholic bishop in Rhode Island said some words about your position on abortion, suggesting that it was similar to Pontius Pilate’s personal opposition to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, but allowing it to happen anyway. How does that make you feel when you hear words like that from a Catholic bishop?
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: Well, Catholic bishop — any religion (inaudible).
WB: That’s the lightning that’s having an effect on our system.
RG: I know.
I guess I’m here by myself.
Look, for someone who went to parochial schools all his life, this is a very frightening thing that’s happening right now.
But the reality is I respect, you know, the opinion of Catholic (inaudible) and religious leaders of all kinds. Religion is very important to me. It’s a very important part of my life.
But ultimately, as (inaudible) been in public life most of my life and taken oaths of office to enforce the law, I’ve got to make the decisions that I think are the right ones in a country like ours.
And my view on abortion is that it’s wrong, but that ultimately government should not be enforcing that decision on a woman.
That is my view that I — I consult my religion. I consult my reading of the Constitution. I consult my views of what I think are important in a pluralistic society, and the reality that we have to respect the fact that there are people that are equally as religious, equally as moral, that make a different decision about this, and should government put them in jail?

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16 years ago

My comment assumes this post relates to the issue of denying politicians communion who vote pro-choice on laws pertaining to abortion. I happen to disagree with Guliani on this (especially with federal funding). But isn’t this a little arbitrary on the part of religious leaders? There are numerous social and political issues that go against the teachings of Jesus and are against Catholic doctrine. Would a politician be denied communion who voted in support of the death penalty? How about voting in favor of the war in Iraq which the Pope came out against? How about welfare or giving to the poor? How about environmental policy? How about any laws that do not condemn homosexual behavior? You made it clear that being pro-choice is absolutely inconsistent with being Catholic. It seems arbitrary to me that ones position on whether abortion should be legal is the primary factor on whether one can be a true Catholic. I feel this is using the power of the Church, which in this case is the power to provide God’s gifts in the Eucharist, to publicly shame politicians. Following the logic out, all members of a parish should fill out a form stating their positions on various political and social issues before receiving communion. This would only be fair since politicians have to state their positions as part of their roles and for most of the rest of us, our positions are not publicly declared. At the end of the day, the fact that ones votes or positions on social, economic or foreign policies are being used by others to give a pass/fail on ones faith and obedience to Christ is not what I consider religion to be about and, in my opinion, is an abuse of the role of the Church. But if this… Read more »

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
16 years ago

I am NOT Catholic.Whether the Catholic Church extends Holy Communion to its members is an internal Church decision.
The bigger question is this:To what extent should any religious leader involve himself in the conduct of a political leader in his voting on issues in an official capacity in a country that “Separation of Church and State” is a vital principle?
There is inconsistency among BOTH religious and political leaders on various issues.
I hope BOTH clergy and politicians realize we live in America that has people of various traditions that may conflict with their own.
When President Kennedy ran for President he tried to put to rest the fear of his Catholicism in minds of those concerned with the possibility of a Catholic President.He noted among other things he was not the Catholic candidate for President but the Democratic candidate for President who happened to be a Catholic.That was approaching 50 years ago.
Whether which side you are on various issues such as abortion, BOTH clergy and politicians are on different sides of this and other issues.Some Churches such as the Catholic Church are more likely to criticize or discipline their members who are public officials than other denominations over issues.
I hope the media solicits responses from other clergy of other denominations on how they feel their members who are in politics should conduct themselves in office.

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