Bishops’ Letter on Egg-As-Person Initiative in Colorado Shrouded in Mystery


A claim that the Colorado Catholic bishops have blunted
their opposition to the latest "egg-as-a-person" state ballot
amendment is raising questions about its authenticity. And the people who could
verify the mystery letter have clammed up.

An obscure blog, Colorado Catholics for Personhood, recently
posted an unformatted Oct. 1 statement purportedly from the Colorado Catholic Conference and signed by Denver
Archbishop Charles Chaput, Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, Colorado
Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan and Pueblo Bishop Arthur Tafoya giving the
greenlight to circulate ballot petitions at Catholic churches:

The
decision to allow signature collection at your parish is one we are leaving to
the judgment of the pastor. If you are approached by people in your parish
wishing to collect signatures for this ballot initiative, and you feel it is
pastorally appropriate for your community, we will trust your
decision.

If the statement is
true, this represents a fairly significant departure from the bishops’ 2008
position when they not only didn’t back the measure but expressly forbid the
church’s formal involvement in the process.

Yet, the letter
also affirms that the state’s four bishops still vigorously disagree with the
vague premise of the repeat initiative to bestow fertilized eggs with
constitutional protections and will not support the measure.

Though with such
big news one would think the personhood activists, many of them Catholics,
would be crowing about their good fortune to beat the Feb. 15 deadline to
capture 76,074 signatures from Colorado registered voters to make the Nov. 2010
ballot.

No such luck.

Neither the
statement, a crossposted link or even a mere mention of it is made on the
official Colorado personhood campaign Web site, by its local partner Colorado
Right to Life, its national affiliate Personhood USA or any of the prolifically
updated supporters’ personal blogs.

The statement is
also curiously absent from the conference Web site. Though a copy of the
bishops’ statement decrying the 2008 personhood initiative as risking renewed
court affirmation of Roe v Wade is
still prominently displayed.

A random check of
the more conservative parish’s Web sites and weekly church bulletins turn up
absolutely nothing on organized petition circulation drives.

The Christian
online news magazine, Charisma, quickly yanked its Nov. 17 story and deleted
the cached version from its site. "Just after that report
was published on our Web site, the story changed," explained Strang
Publications employee Drew Glaser. Our news editor decided to take it down
until it could be updated with the most recent information."

The story has not reappeared.

Even more
mysterious is the dead silence from all involved.

Colorado Catholic Conference Executive Director Jennifer
Kraska did not return multiple calls for confirmation of the bishops’ revised
position.

The state ballot measure director Gualberto Garcia Jones,
who also runs the Colorado Catholics for Personhood blog that posted the
statement, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Though it wouldn’t be the first time the "egg as a
person" activists got their wires crossed on the Colorado bishops’
intentions on political matters.

Keith Mason, then an organizer for last year’s Colorado for
Equal Rights push, issued a Feb. 2008 press release listing the three bishops
(Conley was not yet installed) as supporters of the group.

A battle ignited in the press
with Kraska blasting Mason
and the group for "seriously
misrepresenting" the bishops position and failing to provide the
conference with requested information about the campaign’s donors, strategy and
organizational structure.

Still the public scuffle and eventual back down on the fib
touting the church’s endorsement didn’t appear to hurt the Wichita-resident’s
trajectory in the extremist national anti-choice movement. Mason co-founded
Personhood USA in suburban Denver with fellow CRE carpetbagger Cal Zastrow, who
is originally from Michigan.

Not to be outdone in the media bug out, American Life
League’s Judi Brown weighed in all the way from Stafford, Va., calling the
bishops’ lack of support for the measure "gutless." ALL would
eventually pour $200,000 into the Colorado campaign days before its 73-27
landslide defeat.

In the meantime, we’ll keep trying to confirm — with
somebody, anybody — the authenticity of the bishops’ letter.

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