Last week, the Catholic archbishop of Denver posted an editorial in his archdiocesan newspaper on how Catholics should vote. It garnered quite a bit of comment from some quarters. For instance, Breitbart called it “the most powerful election statement by any Catholic prelate to date,”
You would think that there would be some local media coverage of Aquila’s statement, since other Catholic prelates haven’t exactly been falling over themselves to make statements about the coming election (and especially since the Trump campaign’s meltdown this past weekend). But there was nary a mention in any Denver media, print or broadcast. None. Nada.
Here’s how the Boston-based Crux summed up the archbishop’s message:
As election day approaches, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has published anarticle in his diocesan newspaper, urging Catholics to remember that no issue should be more important to them than the question of life and death for the unborn.
While making it clear that he has an “aversion” to both candidates, Aquila nonetheless suggests that the election will come down to choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and for him, that means the party that is most likely to defend unborn life.
Aquila doesn’t leave the matter in the abstract but helps readers analyze the platforms of the two major parties, especially as regards the issues that affect Christians most closely.
While Catholic prelates go to great lengths to appear neutral at election time-eschewing the endorsement of any particular candidate or party-Aquila does all but tell his readers that come November, he will be pulling the Republican lever.
The archbishop also addressed the criticism of single-issue voting, offering one of the most succinct and cogent rebuttals of “moral equivalency” to ever come from the pen of a U.S. prelate.
“The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter,” he said.
“There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching.”
Now, there are some 550,000 Catholics in Denver.
It’s one of Our Sunday Visitor’s “top 10 Catholic cities” in the United States.
Catholics are the largest religious flock in the greater Denver area by far at 27 percent of the population. Pope John Paul II visited the city in 1993 for World Youth Day. So yes, the Catholic Church is a big player in this town.
Aquila’s strong feelings about abortion originated during his college days when he was working as a hospital orderly and stumbled across an aborted fetus in a hospital sink. He takes no prisoners and, in the spring of 2014, he got the Colorado politicians to dump a pro-NARAL bill after getting 1,000 Catholics to demonstrate on the steps of the Colorado statehouse. (The photo posted atop this post is from that rally.)
A comment on the archdiocese's Facebook page sums up his tough-guy image. Below a photo of a stern-looking archbishop wearing liturgical robes and holding a monstrance outside of what looks like a prison, one commentator wrote: "He looks like a man you don't want to mess with. He is Sicilian, after all."
Thus, with a presidential election less than a month away and the head of the state’s largest religious group more or less tells a chunk of the population how to vote, I would think that’s a story.
Apparently, the Denver Post, the alt weekly Westward and TV stations KUSA, Fox 31, KCNC and KMGH disagree, so far. If anyone can find any coverage of Aquila’s editorial in local media, kindly let me know, but I couldn’t find any after several searches.
I've found fault with the Post's faulty -- or non-existent -- religion coverage in the past and according to the Religion News Association's database, the paper doesn't have a full-time religion reporter. One of their section editors does belong to the RNA, but no one from any local TV or radio station does.
I know the Post has lost one-third of its employees since June 2015, so I'm guessing no one in that newsroom is really watching -- or caring -- about what the local Catholic archbishop has to say. But folks, one-quarter of the city's population does care about what he says. For crass circulation reasons alone, doesn't it make sense to at least try to cover the city's largest religious group?
I guess not. As Westward says, perhaps the Post will end up being bought by Philip Anschutz, owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette and a man more favorable toward media taking on matters of faith.
Maybe then we'd see some religion coverage in Denver media. Until then, I'm not holding my breath.