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 CNS Story:

FLYNN-ATTACKS Sep-28-2004 (430 words) xxxn

Catholics engaging in personal attacks over politics, says archbishop

By Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- The "fusillade of personal attacks" in the current presidential campaign is infecting the debate over issues among Catholics, said Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

"One wonders why the Christian values of charity toward one another and the American value of fair play have been abandoned," he wrote in a Sept. 23 column in The Catholic Spirit, his archdiocesan newspaper.

"This uncharitable, biased and reckless substitute for what formerly was fair-minded commentary and fact-based dialogue has found its venomous way into our Catholic family," he wrote.

Archbishop Flynn specifically criticized Barbara Kralis, who writes for The Wanderer, an independent national Catholic weekly newspaper based in St. Paul, and who posts columns on various Web sites.

She had previously criticized the archbishop, saying he has left the door open to giving Communion to Catholic politicians who favor keeping abortion legal.

Archbishop Flynn wrote that Kralis recently circulated an e-mail asking people if they had a "file" or any "scuttlebutt" about him for an article she was preparing for The Wanderer.

Church authorities are legitimately subject to "fair and balanced evaluations of our actions" by journalists, he wrote. "Such editorial examinations and conclusions ought not, however, be determined by 'scuttlebutt' or preconceived biases."

Archbishop Flynn wrote that Kralis has "a narrow view of our faith."

Kralis told Catholic News Service that she sent the e-mail to a private group of people who understood that she was referring to information about the archbishop's stand on whether Catholic politicians who support keeping abortion legal should be allowed to receive Communion.

Kralis criticized Archbishop Flynn in a column that appeared Sept. 16 on the Web site of Renew America, an organization that supports the views of Alan Keyes, a Catholic and the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. The same column also appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Wanderer.

Referring to a Sept. 9 column by the archbishop, Kralis said he would allow Catholic politicians favoring keeping abortion legal to receive Communion. She said that in her understanding of church teaching such politicians should be denied Communion and that the bishop is responsible for seeing that this is carried out.

Archbishop Flynn said in his Sept. 9 column that the Eucharist "should not be an occasion for political scrutinizing and judgments."

A bishop's role is to assist Catholics in making choices based on church teachings, he said.

Regarding the reception of the Eucharist, the archbishop said the responsibility for deciding whether to do so rests with politicians after an examination of conscience.


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