Pro-Life Advocates Await Bishops’ Decision on Communion-Abortion Dispute

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates Await Bishops’ Decision on Communion-Abortion Dispute

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 17, 2004

Inverness, CO ( — As the nation’s Catholic bishops privately meet to iron out a dispute over whether pro-abortion lawmakers should receive communion, pro-life advocates are eagerly awaiting their decision.

More than 200 bishops are gathering at a hotel outside of Denver to discuss the issue.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. is heading up a task force for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on how to handle politicians such as Senator and likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry whose views run counter to the church.

Kerry has received criticism from pro-life Catholic leaders for his views on abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, which are diametrically opposed to the Church’s pro-life views.

While most bishops have been silent on the issue of prohibiting communions, others have said they favored it.

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.

In January, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke formally notified the Diocese of La Crosse that Catholic lawmakers in that diocese who persist in their support of abortion or euthanasia will be refused Holy Communion until they publicly renounce their "grave public sin."

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

About two dozen protests occurred yesterday across the country and a rally outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was one of them.

"We’re here to send a message to American bishops to please end the scandal of pro-abortion Catholic politicians like John Kerry, who say it is OK to promote abortion as a moral good, a moral right for women, while also professing allegiance to and their communion with the Roman Catholic Church," one of the protesters, Chris Slattery, told Reuters.

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.

In May, forty-eight Catholic members of Congress have written a letter to McCarrick saying they though denying communion would spark anti-Catholic bigotry.