This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Oct. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, the archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput (search) says Roman Catholics should not support politicians who support abortion rights.
Says the archbishop, "If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil? And if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."
Joining us now from South Bend, Indiana, is Father Richard McBrien who teaches theology at Notre Dame (search), and, here in the studio, Father Frank Pavone, the national director for Priests for Life (search).
I do want to give the archbishop in Denver a break here because he did say some other things, and I want to put it in context. He goes, "The reason I want to stress that," what he just said up on the screen, "is because it's not like bishops are issuing edicts about who you should vote for. It's issuing statements about how a Catholic forms her conscience or his conscience."
So do you see a problem with the archbishop making a strong statement that was taken by most press people and compacted. They didn't do what I do and read, you know -- he's advising Catholics on conscience rather than who to vote for, I think, is apparent.
FATHER FRANK PAVONE, PRIESTS FOR LIFE: Which is exactly what I've been doing for years as well.
O'REILLY: Right. And it's legitimate that he do that.
O'REILLY: However, it can be misconstrued as an endorsement for President Bush, can it not?
PAVONE: Well, there's nothing with people coming to conclusions. WE want to help form people's consciences, and, if they come to the conclusion, well, this means I have to vote for the president or I have to vote against somebody else, that's the -- that's their responsibility as voters.
We respect the conscience of each American voter.
O'REILLY: But you...
PAVONE: Part of respecting the conscience is informing the conscience.
O'REILLY: OK, but, Father, you must be deluged with questions from people like me who say, you know, I might want to vote for John Kerry. Am I doing anything wrong? What will you say?
PAVONE: Well, here's how I frame the response. You know, this past spring, Bill, there were court trials held across the country in which doctors who perform abortions took the stand and testified under oath to what they do.
Now they used the words, not me, not the Vatican, not the arch bishop, but they used the words "dismemberment," "decapitation," "crushing the head of a baby," "inserting poison in"...
O'REILLY: This is partial birth.
PAVONE: No, no. These were -- these were testimonies on the D&E procedure and other pro...
O'REILLY: All right.
PAVONE: They were testifying about all the procedures. Now that's how we have to start answering this question.
O'REILLY: But you're dodging the question.
PAVONE: What is an abortion? No, no. We're answering it because the question of whether or not it's a sin to elect somebody who says this should remain legal has to begin by understanding what "this," namely abortion, really is.
O'REILLY: All right, but you're still...
O'REILLY: You're giving them a philosophy lecture, not an answer to the question.
PAVONE: No, no. We're answering the question with our question. The answer to the question is: Do you want to elect somebody...
O'REILLY: No, I...
PAVONE: ... who's going to...
O'REILLY: ... want to know -- and this is a hypothetical. I'm not saying I'm voting for Kerry. So don't give me any of that. But I want an -- can you give me an answer, Father McBrien.
FATHER RICHARD MCBRIEN, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: Are you asking me if I -- one can vote for Senator Kerry?
O'REILLY: No, no. Look -- Look, I'm a student in Notre Dame. I'm coming over to you. You're the theology pooh-bah. You know everything about God. You know him personally. And I say, you know, I'm thinking about voting for John Kerry, but I'm hearing the archbishop and I'm confused. I don't want to do anything immoral. What do you say to me.
MCBRIEN: Well, first -- first of all, I'd ask if they were from Denver because the archbishop's authority is limited to his own archdiocese of Denver.
O'REILLY: So it's a sin in Denver, but it's not a sin in Pennsylvania?
MCBRIEN: Well, listen to me. The American Catholic Bishops as a body do not follow the approach that's been taken by the archbishops of Denver, St. Louis and Newark and some other bishops of smaller diocese.
They have made it very plain ever since 1988, the 1988 campaign when Bush -- President Bush's father was a candidate against Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts, that they do not presume to instruct anyone on how to vote by endorsing or opposing candidates.
Now the reason they added the words "or opposing" and they are still in every one of their quadrennial statements ever since 1988, is because in the '84 campaign -- the reelection campaign of President Reagan, Cardinal O'Connor of New York, Cardinal Law of Boston and other bishops were so strong in their opposition to the Mondale-Ferraro ticket, that it was clear to many people that they were, in effect, indirectly endorsing President Reagan.
O'REILLY: All right. So...
MCBRIEN: So the bishops added the words "or opposing" in 1988.
O'REILLY: I got it, I got it, but both of you guys are not serving me as a confused parishioner. I want to do the right thing in this election, and I think most Americans do want to do the right thing in the election, and we come to men like you, Father Pavone and Father McBrien. and we say, you know, I know this is a big church issue. I know it's a big moral issue. But can I in good conscience take the other issues...
O'REILLY: Go ahead.
MCBRIEN: May I answer that?
O'REILLY: Sure you can.
MCBRIEN: I'll take the position which may seem strange to some of my critics out there -- I'll take the position taken by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who is the head of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith in the Vatican, and he sent -- he had a paragraph in a memorandum he sent to the bishops June, and the paragraph is led off by the initials "NB," which in Latin means nota bene, note this very well.
He said if a Catholic were to vote for a pro-choice candidate precisely because of that candidate's support of abortion, not abortion rights, but abortion as such, then it would be wrong.
MCBRIEN: But he said if someone votes for a candidate for other reasons well, taking other issues into account as the American Catholic Bishops say they should, we should put everything in a consistent ethic-of- life framework, they said, then it would not be a sin to vote for...
O'REILLY: OK. So -- and then now I'm starting to understand.
Go ahead, Father.
PAVONE: Father McBrien, are you forgetting the word "proportionate"?
MCBRIEN: No. In fact -- in fact, Ratzinger...
PAVONE: Then how come you didn't mention it?
MCBRIEN: Ratzinger used the word. I've just written a poem about this.
PAVONE: But you didn't. Listen, you're misleading this audience. The cardinal said that one can vote...
MCBRIEN: I'm glad you're not.
PAVONE: The cardinal said -- he used the words "for proportionate reasons." Now I ask Father McBrien, I ask our viewers what is proportionate to 3,500...
MCBRIEN: Well, let me give you...
O'REILLY: Who, whoa, whoa. Let him finish, Father. I'll give you time.
MCBRIEN: ... 3,500 innocent children being deliberately destroyed, not my words, but the words of these abortionists, heads being crushed, arms and legs being torn off.
O'REILLY: All right. So you put it at the head of the list.
PAVONE: There's nothing more proportionate.
O'REILLY: OK. I got it.
PAVONE: Now that -- we don't need a Vatican cardinal to tell us about that.
O'REILLY: I got it. I got it.
Go ahead, Father McBrien. Go ahead.
MCBRIEN: Father Pavone and I agree, I think, on the teaching of the church regarding abortion. But I also -- but I don't know if Father Pavone agrees with the teachings of our bishops that we have to follow a consistent ethic of life. The proportionate reasons would involve taking other life issues in account.
I have here the statement of the bishop -- that Pope John Paul II himself gave to the Vatican diplomatic corps in January of 2003, and he said, "War itself," war itself, "is an attack on human life since it brings in its wake suffering and deaths. The battle for peace is always a battle for life."
The proportionate reasons would be that you're looking at a candidate and trying to see what that candidate's views and policies are on a broad range of life issues...
O'REILLY: I got it.
MCBRIEN: ... including, for example, the war in Iraq.
O'REILLY: All right. So we're all back to where we started again.
MCBRIEN: It's a judgment call.
O'REILLY: That means that everybody's got to vote their conscience.
PAVONE: No, they may not. The bishops and the pope have said that abortion trumps the other issues because it...
O'REILLY: All right.
MCBRIEN: They have never said that. They have never said that.
PAVONE: They certainly have.
O'REILLY: All right. I don't want you guys to duke it out.
MCBRIEN: Listen, Bill, this is not...
PAVONE: Bill, it would be a sin, I believe. I would...
MCBRIEN: This is not a card game. There's no trump card.
PAVONE: I would consider it a sin for me to vote for Kerry.
O'REILLY: All right.
MCBRIEN: This is not a -- well, that's fine.
O'REILLY: And you're entitled to it. I think -- all right. It was a very interesting discussion, and I'll let the folks decide because I'll just get into a lot of trouble.
Gentlemen, thanks very much. Very, very good discussion.
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