Can you deny a bishop communion?
It would be interesting to see Supreme Knight Carl Anderson (see Paul Moses’ post below) face off with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, who told NCR’s John Allen that he would “obviously” vote for Barack Obama if he could. That seems consistent with what I’ve heard from and about prelates outside the American ecclesial echo chamber. But Onaiyekan is particularly thoughtful in his remarks:
Known as a strong advocate for social justice, Onaiyekan said Obama’s pro-choice record wouldn’t stop him from voting for the Democrat.
“The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life,” Onaiyekan said in an interview with NCR. “You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions through war, through poverty, and so on.”
A past president of the African bishops’ conference, Onaiyekan is widely seen as a spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa. During the synod, he was tapped to deliver a continental report on behalf of the African bishops.
Onaiyekan said the election of an African-American president would have positive repercussions for America’s image in the developing world.
“It would mean that for the first time, we would begin to think that the Americans are really serious in the things they say, about freedom, equality, and all that,” he said. “For a long time, we’ve been feeling that you don’t really mean it, that they’re just words.”
Onaiyekan said he’s aware that many American Catholics have reservations about Obama because of his stand on abortion, but he looks at it differently.
“Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that it’s killing innocent life,” he said. “I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent.
“If my choice is between a person who makes room for abortion, but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesn’t support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death,” Onaiyekan said.
“It’s a whole package, and you never get a politician who will please you in everything,” he said. “You always have to pick and choose.”
John (who is in Rome covering the Synod on the Bible, along with Onaiyekan and a cast of hundreds) also posts the full transcript of the interview here.
UPDATE! Via CNS, this story about a 106-year-old nun who is going to vote for the first time since 1952…and she’s going to vote for Obama! Maybe she and the Archbishop can talk shop while waiting in the non-communion line. It’s a very nice piece, actually.
ROME (CNS) — U.S. Sister Cecilia Gaudette, a 106-year-old member of the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary, will vote for the first time in 56 years and will cast her ballot for president for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. The nun, a retired music and art teacher, has lived in Rome for 50 years and only recently found out that she could register for an absentee ballot without returning to the United States.
…Sister Cecilia said she was sure Obama would win, just like the last U.S. presidential candidate she voted for — Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. “I always said, ‘I voted once and I won the election,’” she told CBS News.