Sebelius Nomination a Test for New Progressive Catholic Groups

Religious conservatives attack Kansas governor's pro-choice stance, but religious liberals push back.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

This morning, the conservative Catholic League released its attack on health and human services secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice Roman Catholic who will formally be named to the post this afternoon by President Obama. The Family Research Council issued its attack on Sebelius yesterday afternoon.

But the first faith-based political outfit to respond to word of Sebelius's nomination was the progressive Catholic organization Catholics United, which E-mailed reporters on Saturday explaining why "Catholics Applaud Nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary." The group, founded after the 2004 election, also launched a new Catholics for Sebelius website.

The Christian right assault on Sebelius's pro-abortion-rights position will intensify in coming days, providing a major test of liberal Catholic groups'—which includes Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—ability to push back and give a pro-choice Catholic some faith-based cover.

The absence of such groups in 2004 left John Kerry largely helpless in the face of attacks that he wasn't a true Catholic because of his pro-choice stance.

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