Catholics received a clearer picture of the path chosen by presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Aug. 23 when the Illinois senator chose pro-abortion Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate.

Fidelis, a national Catholic-based advocacy group based in Chicago, said the selection “poses a major challenge for American Catholics.”

“Barack Obama has re-opened a wound among American Catholics by picking a pro-abortion Catholic politician,” Fidelis President Brian Burch commented.

“The American bishops have made clear that Catholic political leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the unborn,” he said. “Sadly, Joe Biden’s tenure in the United States Senate has been marked by steadfast support for legal abortion.”

During the recent Democratic primary campaign, Biden said: “I am a long-standing supporter of Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the largest abortion rights advocacy groups in the United States, praised Biden’s commitment to abortion.

“Sen. Biden has consistently expressed support for a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “While we have not agreed with him on every vote, we have a long-standing relationship with Sen. Biden that is open, positive and constructive.”

She went on to laud the Delaware senator for his opposition to President George Bush’s three pro-life appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court: John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

According to Fidelis, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., Biden’s diocese, has said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the “great civil rights issues of this generation.”

He decried the stance of politicians who “personally oppose” abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn.

“No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena,’” the bishop said.

“Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’”

Bishop Saltarelli also made clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.