Daschle Feels the Heat from Home State, Catholic Church
In a story appearing Thursday in the Weekly Standard, Jody Bottum
writes that Sen. Daschle's home diocese of Sioux Falls has instructed the senator
from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to
his standing as a member of the Catholic Church."
According to Bottum, the letter from Sioux Falls Bishop Robert
Carlson represents a "declaration that Tom Daschle's religious identification constitutes,
in technical Catholic vocabulary, a grave public scandal." Bottum
goes on to write that the directive from Bishop Carlson does not represent
Bottum points out that Daschle made himself ineligible to receive communion
almost 20 years ago with his divorce and remarriage to a Washington lobbyist.
Daschle's consistent political opposition to Catholic teachings on moral issues
-- abortion, in particular -- has made him such a problem for ordinary churchgoers
that the Church must deny him the use of the word 'Catholic.'" Bottum
Friction between Sen. Daschle and Bishop Carlson has existed
for some time. Referring to Daschle's proposed "compromise" to partial-birth abortion
legislation in 1997, Bottum quotes Carlson as saying that the compromise represented
a "smokescreen" designed to "provide cover for pro-abortion
senators and President Clinton, who wanted to avoid a veto confrontation."
Bottum cites a floor speech given by Sen. Daschle in which he
claims Bishop Carlson was speaking in a way "more identified with the
radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership."
The denunciation of Daschle follows on the heels of a recent
release by the Vatican entitled "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life." The
Doctrinal Note, produced by The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
is "directed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church and, in a particular
way, to Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful called
to participate in the political life of democratic societies."
The Doctrinal Note states that in the face of fundamental and
inalienable ethical demands, "Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence
of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person." Citing
abortion and euthanasia in particular, the Note states, "Such
laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural
In the same
way, it is necessary to recall the duty to respect and protect the
rights of the human embryo."
Brave steps such as those taken by Bishop Carlson are vital for the
ongoing education of the faithful and to let our elected officials know that
the Church, clergy and laity will hold them accountable for their actions," Cella
wrote in a letter to supporters.
The denunciation by the Catholic Church is just the latest in
a string of criticism directed at Sen. Daschle. Daschle has come under fire
at President Bush for his foreign policy and execution of the war with
Iraq. In March, Daschle was thoroughly rebuked for saying, "I'm
saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy
to war, saddened that we have to give up one life because this president
couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical
for our country."
A recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the National Republican
Senatorial Committee showed former Congressman John Thune leading Sen. Daschle
in a possible match-up for the senate seat in 2004. In the poll, 91 percent
of South Dakotans said they are "aware of Daschle's attack upon President
Bush," and 41 percent said they are "less likely to vote
for Daschle due to his harsh attack."
That comment is more likely to come from someone from the south of France,
not from South Dakota," Thune is quoted as saying in the Sioux Falls "Argus