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Huelskamp Expects Abortion, ‘Sanctity of Unborn’ in Papal Address

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, an outspoken Kansas Republican who spent two years in a Catholic seminary, expects Pope Francis to address abortion and the “sanctity of the unborn” when he speaks to Congress on Thursday.

Huelskamp said abortion is “the preeminent issue of our time.”  After reaching a high of over 1.6 million abortions in 1990, the number performed annually in the United States has dropped to about 1.06 million a year, according to the National Right to Life Committee. 

“If a pope had come in 1865 and not mentioned slavery, we’d say, ‘Wait, why did he ignore that?’ ” Huelskamp told CQ Roll Call in a Monday interview. 

Francis’ address comes as an abortion-related issue threatens to shutdown the government. Huelskamp and other conservatives are in an uproar over videos by an anti-abortion group that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue from aborted fetuses. The House Freedom Caucus, of which Huelskamp is a founding member, has vowed to reject any spending bill that would fund Planned Parenthood.

Earlier this month, the proclamation by Francis that all rank-and-file priests can absolve women seeking forgiveness for abortions sparked headlines and caused a stir about his meaning.

Francis also has vexed some Catholics by sounding more open to people regardless of their sexual orientation, even though he repeats the church’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pontiff said in July 2013.

Huelskamp said liberal Catholics are misinterpreting the words of Francis, whom the congressman says is viewed as a “superstar celebrity” because his comments have been so widely embraced. “It’s false hope by leftist Catholics for this pope to come in and change the teachings they don’t like,” he said.

Huelskamp said his view is that Francis has not deviated from church orthodoxy. “I don’t think it’s been different at all,” he said. “I think that’s the typical attempt by the left to take his words and twist them into political purposes.”


This story was clarified to include data on abortions from the National Right to Life Committee.

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