Pro-Abortion "Catholic" Group Says Catholics Oppose Communion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Abortion "Catholic" Group Says Catholics Oppose Communion Ban

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( — While the nation’s Catholic bishops are meeting to decide whether pro-abortion lawmakers will be prohibited from taking communion, a pro-abortion "Catholic" group has released a poll that it says shows American Catholics oppose denying the Christian sacrament.

The poll, sponsored by Catholics for a Free Choice, surveyed 2,239 Catholics. It showed that 76 percent disapprove of Catholic bishops denying communion to Catholics who support legal abortion.

The poll also revealed that just 16 percent believe that Catholic politicians have a religious obligation to vote on issues, such as abortion or embryonic stem cell research, the way Catholic bishops recommend.

"Those few bishops who have chosen to use communion as a weapon in America’s abortion war have disregarded the long-standing Catholic principles of political freedom and freedom of conscience," Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said.

However, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, tells that the CFFC poll shows " no distinction is made between Catholics who practice their faith and Catholics who reject it."

"The results would be quite different if one examined the views of Catholics who actually believe what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist and about the Church herself," Pavone explained.

In fact, most of those who responded to the CFFC survey said they rarely or never attend church services.

Fourteen percent of those in the CFFC poll attend church only once a month, 36 percent only a few times a year, and 11 percent never attend religious services. Just 39 percent of those included in the poll regularly attend church.

The CFFC survey conflicts with previous polls that show strong majorities of Catholics backing the pro-life positions taken by the Catholic Church and opposing likely Democratic nominee John Kerry because of his stance in opposition.

A Zogby International poll of 1,388 Catholics conducted in May shows the likely Democratic presidential nominee getting the support of only 20% of Catholic voters on issues where he disagrees with the position of the church.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who would appoint only judicial nominees who backed the Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion. Only 16 percent said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.

Meanwhile, 53 percent of Catholic voters would be less likely to support a candidate, like Kerry, who backs embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of unborn children in their earliest stages of life. Only 23 percent said they would be more likely to back a candidate who favors such destructive research.

Pavone called CFFC, which is not officially tied to the Catholic Church, a "bogus organization" and said the group is trying to divide Catholics during election time.

"The strategy being used here was used at the beginning of the effort to legalize abortion — namely, attempt to divide the hierarchy from the rest of the flock," Pavone said.

Meanwhile, the National Pro-life Religious Council, which consists of dozens of Christian denominations, has formally expressed unanimous support for those bishops who have indicated that public officials who err on abortion and euthanasia should not be given Communion.

Groups such as Presbyterians Pro-Life, Lutherans for Life and the National Episcopalians for Life are part of the council.