DES MOINES - Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has said that she disputes Church teaching on the priesthood, sexuality, and abortion.
The Democratic presidential candidate made the comments while discussing her own beliefs in an interview for Iowa Public Radio's NPR Politics Podcast on Wednesday.
Gillibrand was raised in the Church and said she still “identifies” as a Catholic, even though she attends religious services at non-Catholic churches. The senator said she disagrees with Catholic teaching on “many things,” listing abortion, LGBT issues, and the all-male priesthood as points of dissent.
“I think [the Church] is wrong on those three issues,” said Gilibrand. “And I don’t think they’re supported by the Gospel or the Bible in any way. I just--I don’t see it, and I go to two Bible studies a week. I take my faith really seriously.”
Gillibrand is an outspoken supporter of abortion rights and has a zero percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee on life issues.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in line with unchanging Church teaching, declares abortion to be a grave moral evil and the taking of an innocent human life.
The catechism cites biblical references in illustration of its teachings on abortion, and on the institution of the priesthood and human sexuality, while stressing that all persons, regardless of sexuality, are made in the image and likeness of God and are to be treated with respect.
Gillibrand said she is usually reluctant to discuss her faith on the campaign trail as she does not want to alienate voters, and because she wants to keep a separation of church and state.
“So it's not an issue that I talk about really outside of a worship service or a faith-based community because it can be offensive to some people, can be troubling to some people,” she explained.
Gillibrand went on to criticize Republicans for what she considers a lack of Christian charity.
“When they don't feed the poor and don't vote for food stamps, when they don't care about families struggling and living in poverty, when they continue to invest in for-profit prisons, they aren't doing what the Gospel tells them to do: feed the poor, help the sick," she said.
A 2018 study found that among Republicans, and in Republican-voting counties overall, charitable giving was higher on average than among Democrats and in Democrat-voting counties, which instead registered a higher overall higher tax burden.
Despite her campaigning efforts, Gillibrand remains a relative outside-contender for Democratic nomination. She has garnered an average of less than one percent of the polls, and is not one of the top 10 candidates at the national level.