Bishops to Decide on Their Own if Pro-Abortion Lawmakers Get Communion

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

Bishops to Decide on Their Own if Pro-Abortion Lawmakers Get Communion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( — After meeting on the issue of whether or not lawmakers who back abortion should receive communion from the Catholic church, the nation’s bishops have decided that each individual bishop should decide whether or to allow such politicians to receive the Christian sacrament.

"Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles" the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

"Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times," the statement said.

The statement, called "Catholics in Political Life," was adopted by a vote of 183-6.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., said the statement "reflects the bishop’s role as teacher, pastor, and center of unity. We address the moral issues that our society faces without endorsing parties or candidates."

It restated the position of the Catholic church in opposition to abortion and upholding the value of human life. However, it did not contain a general call to the nation’s bishops to deny communion to politicians who support or abortion.

The Catholic bishops agreed that politicians who support devaluing human life through abortion of embryonic stem cell research should not be given a platform for their views through the Catholic Church.

"Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the bishops said. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The document calls on Catholic officials and parishioners to teach and persuade elected officials and the general public to support the right to life.

The nation’s Catholic bishops also said elected leaders have an obligation to "to work toward correcting morally defective laws."

Related web sites:
Catholic Bishop’s statement on withholding communion –