In an interview with Zenit News Agency (by Karna Swanson, Aug. 22, 2008—Zenit.org), the Ordinary of Denver has the following to say regarding his new book, Render Unto Caesar:
Q: Did you hope the book, which was published months ahead of the presidential elections in the United States, would impact the election process in some way?
Archbishop Chaput: Actually, I finished the text in July last year and made final revisions last November. I wanted the book to appear in March this year to put some space between it and the campaign season. But the publisher makes those decisions.
It’s not my intention, in the book or anywhere else, to tell people how to vote. I don’t endorse candidates, I don’t use code language to get people to like or dislike any political party. That’s not the job of a pastor.
People need to vote their conscience. But “conscience” doesn’t miraculously appear out of nothing; it’s not a matter of personal opinion or private preference. Conscience is always grounded in truth bigger than ourselves. People who claim to be Catholic need to be honest with themselves and with the believing community. They need to really act “Catholic” in private and in public, and that includes the way they make their political choices. And it’s very much the job of a pastor to teach Catholics their faith and to encourage them to apply it.
Q: In this election year there seems to be more talk of "wider" social issues that Catholics should consider when voting. How do you see this trend? And what do you see as the biggest issues facing Catholic voters this November?
Archbishop Chaput: The moral witness of the Church doesn’t change, whether it’s an election year or not. We face a lot of very important issues this fall: the economy, immigration reform, the war in Iraq. These are urgent and compelling, but they can’t be used as an excuse to ignore the unborn child.
No matter how much we want to cover it over with talk about “wider social issues,” the abortion struggle remains the foundational social issue of our time. There’s no way of wriggling around the profits, the brutality and the injustice of abortion with pious language or theatrical gestures. Abortion is legalized homicide. It has to stop. Every other right depends on the right to life.
Q: The book is written mainly for a U.S. audience as it directly speaks of the Church in the United States. What could an international audience take away from the book?
Archbishop Chaput: All Catholics, wherever they live, whatever their country, need to remember that we’re citizens of heaven first. That’s our home. We serve our nation in this world best by living our Catholic faith fully and authentically, and bringing our Catholic witness for human dignity vigorously into our nation’s political life.
We need to stop being embarrassed to speak and work for the truth. We can be disciples, or we can be cowards. In today’s world, there’s no room for anything else. We need to choose.
May each of us vote his or her conscience—a conscience formed by Christ—for the good of our great nation, for the good of the world, for the good of our brothers and sisters in their mothers' wombs.