Congressional Members Write Catholic Bishop About Abortion-Communion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Members Write Catholic Bishop About Abortion-Communion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Some forty-eight Catholic members of Congress have written a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. telling him that anti-Catholic bigotry will return if the church denies communion to politicians who back abortion.

The letter labeled the communion threats "deeply hurtful," and "miring the Church in partisan politics."

Cardinal McCarrick, who has questioned presidential candidate John Kerry’s anti-life views on embryonic stem cell research and abortion, is heading up a task force for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on how to handle politicians like Kerry whose views run counter to the church.

The letters signers are all Democratic members of Congress and include some members with pro-life voting records. The three page letter was sent on May 10.

In their letter, the members said they "firmly believe that it would be wrong for a bishop to deny the sacrament of holy communion to an individual on the basis of a voting record."

Pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who backs Kerry’s presidential bid, told the New York Times the bishops were politicizing religion.

"The bishops came out against the war, and I don’t see them saying to all the people who voted for it, you can’t receive communion because you voted for an unjust war," Stupak said.

Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis, a leading Catholic magazine, said the Catholic Church long ago should have started holding Catholic politicians accountable for deviating from such an important issue as abortion.

"The fact that so many Catholics hold public office and flout church teaching is a scandal that many of us have waited a long time to see addressed," Hudson told the Times newspaper.

Hudson said that Kerry, who is the first Catholic to run for president on a major party ticket since John F. Kennedy, "has earned excommunication" for his strongly pro-abortion position.

Hudson also indicated to the Times he thought it was hypocritical for Kerry to attend a rally backing abortion shortly after meeting with McCarrick.

Among the letters’ signers are leading abortion advocates.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California signed the letter and is joined by Rosa De Lauro of Connecticut, Carolyn McCarthy and Nydia Velazquez of New York, John Dingell of Michigan, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, and George Miller of California.

De Lauro and pro-abortion Rep. Nick Lampson of Texas crafted the letter.

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who flip-flopped from a pro-life position to backing abortion, also signed the letter.

Joining Stupak in endorsing the letter was Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, a leading pro-life Democrat.

The letter requests a meeting with McCarrick and bishops who are members of the committee. Susan Gibbs, communications director for the Washington archdiocese, said McCarrick is open to a meeting.

Saying that the Supreme Court has made abortion legal, the Washington Post reports, the letter said members of Congress "who vote for legislation consistent with that mandate are not acting contrary to our positions as faithful members of the Catholic Church."

"We also do not believe that it is the obligation of legislators to prohibit all conduct which we may, as a matter of personal morality, believe is wrong," the members added.

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said he would offer the politician a blessing rather than giving him full communion and Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston has told Catholic elected officials who are pro-abortion that they should not be receiving communion.

However, McCarrick said he would be "uncomfortable" denying communion to pro-abortion politicians.