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Tom Daschle's Duty to Be Morally Coherent

A Weekly Standard Exclusive: The Senate minority leader is ordered to stop calling himself a Catholic.

12:00 PM, Apr 17, 2003 • By J. BOTTUM
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There's quite a list of pro-abortion Catholics in Washington--beginning with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader in the House--who could use similar instruction in "the duty to be morally coherent." Just in the Senate, there's Biden, Collins, Daschle, Dodd, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, and more. But at least Tom Daschle has now been forced by Bishop Carlson to assume some responsibility for moral coherence--even if it is, unfortunately, a coherence achieved in the wrong direction.

The diocese in Sioux Falls would not say what brought the issue of Tom Daschle's Catholicism to a head at this moment, although one South Dakotan suggested it may have to do with Daschle's crossing of yet another line recently when he began direct fund-raising for NARAL. Senator Daschle's office has not yet responded to a request for comment. It's a serious thing when a bishop breaks a pastoral relation, no matter how tenuous that relation may have grown. But Bishop Carlson is right that the time has come to banish Cuomoism from American politics. This isn't a matter of favoring Republicans or Democrats. Regardless of their party, public figures who aren't going to oppose abortion shouldn't call themselves Catholic anymore.

A native of South Dakota, J. Bottum is Books & Arts editor of the Weekly Standard.