Catholic Bishop Sticks to Communion Stance for Pro-Abortion Voters

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishop Sticks to Communion Stance for Pro-Abortion Voters

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 19, 2004

Colorado Springs, CO ( — A Catholic bishop who said voters who approve candidates that back abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research should not receive communion is standing by his comments in the face of criticism.

"Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation," Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan wrote.

"Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences," Sheridan added.

However, Sheridan’s comments didn’t go over well with Rev. Bob Kinkel, pastor of Spirit of Christ Catholic Church in Arvada, Colorado.

Rev. Kinkel criticized Sheridan at a recent Sunday church service and told the Rocky Mountain News that he was "caught off guard" by the applause his critical comments received from parishioners.

Kinkel told his congregation, ‘I want you all to know I don’t agree," with Bishop Sheridan’s pastoral letter, and members broke out into applause afterwards.

"Don’t get me wrong, bishops have the right and responsibility to teach," Kinkel told the Colorado newspaper. "But we have an old adage in the church — ‘In the middle is where the truth is.’ I think the letter is an extreme. No other bishop has said anything like this. We need to be able to continue to say, ‘Look at the whole spectrum of what the candidate is about.’"

However, Kinkel later admitted he had not read Sheridan’s entire letter.

Despite the criticism, Sheridan stands by his comments. In an interview on Friday with CNN, Sheridan said he purposefully picked the issues he included in his letter.

"Well, the issues that I’ve chosen to speak about in this letter are what we understand to be intrinsically evil in and of themselves," Bishop Sheridan said.

Asked about criticism from some inside the church, Sheridan said "the truth is sometimes divisive."

"It’s an unfortunate consequence, not one intended, but the alternative is to say nothing and, if I do that, then I jeopardize my own salvation, I believe, because as a bishop I have the mandate to speak the truth," Sheridan explained.

Meanwhile, Colorado lawyer and businessman Ric Kethcart has said he will withhold a $100,000 donation to the diocese unless Sheridan reverses his stance. But Peter Howard, Sheridan’s executive assistant, said the church is willing to lose the money to take a morally proper stand.

Howard said other Catholics have already decided to increase their giving because of Sheridan’s statement.

One Catholic pro-life leader said he appreciated Bishop Sheridan’s remarks.

"I am grateful for the clarity of Bishop Sheridan’s statement, which highlights what a grave obligation and a tremendous power are placed in our hands by the opportunity to vote," Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life told

"In Sacred Scripture, rulers are always warned of how serious their obligations are before the Lord. In America, the rulers are the voters. We should not be surprised, therefore, that equally serious obligations fall upon us," Pavone explained.