BY BRAD DAVIS
The archbishop of the Omaha archdiocese released a letter Saturday implying his flock of 220,000 should not cast their votes for Barack Obama because of the candidate's stance on abortion.
Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss
Without explicitly forbidding an Obama vote, Archbishop Elden Curtiss wrote in his letter, "Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has stated with clarity that Catholics who vote for a candidate precisely because he or she supports abortion and/or euthanasia would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil."
Omaha has become an unlikely election battleground as some polls show the presidential candidates nearly tied within the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska, whose boundaries overlay the core of the Omaha metropolitan area.
Because Nebraska allots its electoral votes proportionally, Omaha's one electoral vote seems to be in play. Obama has opened three Omaha offices with 15 paid staffers in an effort to flip the area from the Republican column for the first time in a presidential race since 1964.
The archbishop left some room for Catholics to vote for an abortion-rights supporting candidate if the Catholic voter's decision was made "in the presence of proportionate reasons," a policy he attributed to the pope.
"However," the archbishop wrote, "I cannot conceive of a proportionate reason that could outweigh the deaths of nearly 50 million children killed by an abortion."
John McCain vows to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout all 50 states. His campaign platform says abortion rights should be decided by individual states, according to the campaign Web site.
Obama's campaign platform says he opposes the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and that the candidate has "been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe vs. Wade a priority as president," according to the campaign Web site.
Curtiss said a pro-abortion rights position makes a candidate "unworthy of our trust."
"There are many serious issues at stake in this election, but none is more important than abortion," Curtiss said in his letter.
In an interview last week, the head of the Omaha-area Republican Party said if Catholic turnout is high within Omaha, Obama has no chance of winning the district. He estimated Catholics make up 25 percent of the district.
"They vote pro-life," said David Bywater, director of the Douglas County Republican Party.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha covers 23 Nebraska counties, an area of 14,051 square miles, according to its Web site. Under its jurisdiction are 149 parishes, two Catholic universities with more than 26,000 students, and 59 elementary schools and 18 high schools.
The text of the archbishop's letter can be found on the Web site of the archdiocese: http://www.archomaha.org/newsandevents/pdf/ArchbishopsVotingStatement.pdf