Abortion-Communion Battle Moves to Local Arena After Bishops’ Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion-Communion Battle Moves to Local Arena After Bishops’ Decision

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 24, 2004

Lexington, KY (LifeNews.com) — With the nation’s Catholic bishops not putting in place a blanket ban against politicians who favor abortion taking communion, the battle now moves to the local level at diocesan offices around the nation. Each individual bishop must decide whether pro-abortion elected officials can receive communion at the churches in their diocese.

In Kentucky, Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer wants politicians who back abortion to voluntarily refrain from taking the Christian sacrament.

Lexington diocesan spokesman Tom Shaughnessy told the Associated Press, "A professing Catholic who has taken public stands against what the church teaches should disqualify himself or herself from receiving the Eucharist because they cannot receive in good faith."

However, Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac says Bishop Gainer’s decision won’t changer her mind.

"I plan to continue taking Communion and would love to receive it from a woman priest someday soon," Isaac said in a written statement.

State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, told the Associated Press that he, too, would continue taking communion despite his pro-abortion position.

"I certainly believe there are a lot of good American Catholics who believe in choice," he told AP.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of San Franciso said all members of the Catholic Church, including politicians, must accept the Church’s teaching on the "evil of abortion" in order to receive communion.

Archbishop William Levada told the Monterey Herald newspaper that he wouldn’t deny communion to anyone until he could "listen to their concerns and offer them the opportunity for a fruitful examination of Catholic teaching."

"Can a politician be guilty of formal cooperation in evil?" he asks. "If the person intends to promote the killing of innocent life, she/he would be guilty of such sinful cooperation.

Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who lead the bishops task force charged with the task of examining the abortion-communion issue, said denial of communion would turn the Christian sacrament into a political football — demeaning its significance.

Cardinal McCarrick also said the thought more should be done to change the hearts and minds of elected officials who support abortion or assisted suicide and that denying them communion may hurt the effort to oppose such grisly practices.