15-April-2004 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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Washington, DC, Apr. 15 (CWNews.com) - John Kerry, the presumptive Democrat nominee for president and a self-proclaimed Catholic, met privately on Thursday with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who is heading up a US bishops' task force on dealing with Catholic politicians who reject central teachings of the Catholic faith.

Kerry and Cardinal McCarrick both declined to comment after the 45-minute meeting. A Kerry aide said the meeting was "completely personal and private." Kerry's well-known positions in favor of legalized abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, and other problematic issues, as well as his recent public acts of receiving communion at non-Catholic churches, has led to calls from many Catholics that sanctions be levied against Kerry, the first Catholic major party presidential nominee since John F. Kennedy.

Susan Gibbs, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, said Kerry requested the meeting and characterized it as "a chance to get to know each other." In interviews over Easter weekend, Cardinal McCarrick had responded to questions of whether Kerry should be refused Communion for his public and forthright rejection of the Church's teachings by saying, "I would find it hard to use the Eucharist as a sanction," telling Newsweek magazine, "It's between the person and God." When asked what he would tell Kerry if they sought his advice on how to handle the situation, he said: "What they do is really their business and not mine."

To "Fox News Sunday," he said: "I think there are many of us who would feel that there are certain restrictions that we might put on people, that there are certain sanctions that we may put on people. But I think many of us would not like to use the Eucharist as part of the sanctions."

Gibbs said the task force's recommendations would not be made for "several months or even after the election." Last year, the Vatican issued a "doctrinal note" on the obligation of Catholic politicians regarding the integration of their faith and political policies.

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