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INTERVIEW: Governor Huckabee Addresses Anti-Catholicism and Abortion

By Deacon Keith Fournier
December 29th, 2007
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Following our first interview with Governor Mike Huckabee there was an intimation of anti-catholicism by several pundits and commentators. We asked the Governor directly about this and about another issue of importance to our Catholic Online readers and viewers.

LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - We set forth below the questions asked by Catholic Online and the candidates responses.

Order "Catholics and Voting", how a faithful Catholic must also be a faithful citizen

DEACON KEITH FOURNIER: “Governor Huckabee, on December 18, 2007 Catholic Online issued a challenge to all of the candidates running for the President in 2008, in both major political parties, asking each of them to answer a series of questions of particular concern to Catholics.

We promised that their response, or lack of response, would be made known to all of our readers and viewers.

Governor, you were gracious enough to give us an exclusive interview. In that interview you answered each of our questions, thoroughly, thoughtfully and forthrightly.

Just days from now, the first real contest of the Presidential Primary season, the important Iowa caucus, will be underway.

In a Primary schedule that has become compacted by changes in dates, Iowa results loom quite large. And, the 2008 election contest which was once considered a “lock”, has become a real “horse race”, voters are truly paying attention.

Your interview with Catholic Online is one the highest read stories in our history.

However, shortly after its publication, you spoke at a Church in Texas, on a Sunday morning. Of course, there is nothing unusual about that.

What caught the attention of many of our readers and viewers was a concern that the Pastor of the Church has written some material that insults the Catholic Church and has been labeled by some as anti-Catholic.

Our readers understand that you, like all of the candidates, are running for the Presidency. In other words, we know that you seek to govern the whole Nation and, of course, you must reach out to all Americans.

However, there has, unfortunately, been a history of anti-Catholicism in this Nation that we all love.

Your campaign quickly noted the presence of Catholics in many of the top positions of your campaign staff.However, the issue and the concern raised by your visit, has not gone away.

Would you comment upon your visit and on your views concerning Catholics in America?

GOVERNOR HUCKABEE: “I am invited to speak at thousands of diverse venues each year. My willingness to address a group says nothing about whether or not I agree with every tenet, policy or belief espoused by a group.

To be honest, I have never thought about having “a view” about Catholics in America.

Rather, I have enjoyed strong, personal relationships with many Catholics over the years and I would hate to think about my life without those relationships having been there.

For more than a decade, I marched side-by-side with Catholic Bishops in Arkansas’ annual March for Life.

Throughout my years as Lieutenant Governor and Governor, I enjoyed a very close relationship with leaders and members of the Catholic Church in Arkansas.

My pro-life record is largely the result of this close working relationship.

My relationships with Catholics predated my entry into politics. When I was pastoring a Baptist church in Texarkana, I had the opportunity to work closely with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word at the St. Michael Hospital near my church. I was always welcomed warmly by the sisters when I visited the sick.

As a pastor, I held joint services with my neighboring Catholic congregation, was invited to speak in Catholic churches for special services, and had regular breakfast meetings with the Bishop of the Arkansas Diocese, Bishop Peter Sartain, now in Illinois.

Those early years of ministry showed me the value of working with caring people whether or not every one of our religious tenets line up exactly.

In short, if I held any animosity toward Catholics, I don't think Justice Scalia would have ever taken me up on my invitations to go duck hunting.

As I mentioned before, many of my top-level staff and closest advisors are Catholic, including my national campaign manager, national campaign director, my policy advisor and my campaign’s chief operating officer.

DEACON FOURNIER: Governor, you have expressed your long term position on what most Catholics consider the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, in these words:

“I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering.”

Does your position in opposition to abortion admit of any exceptions?

GOVERNOR HUCKABEE: “First, let me say I have appreciated that Catholics led in the pro-life issue and were firm on this even before the Baptists.

Before the Baptists really started taking a strong position on the sanctity of life, I was a part of an organization called "Southern Baptists for Life" which was launched to move our denomination to a more consistent pro-life position.

In regard to exceptions, experience has shown that health of the mother exceptions are so broad that they result in ‘carte blanche’ abortion on demand.

Consequently, I do not support an exception in those terms.

Abortion proponents point to exceptions and worst-case scenarios as a way to defend abortion on demand.

DEACON FOURNIER: "Thank you for taking the time out of a busy schedule to speak with us once again. Blessed Christmas to you and your family and Happy New Year"

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