More Catholic Bishops: If You’re Pro-Abortion, Skip Communion

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

More Catholic Bishops: If You’re Pro-Abortion, Skip Communion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 9, 2004

Winona, MN ( — More Catholic bishops have said that anyone who supports abortion should recuse themselves from taking communion. Bishop Bernard Harrington of the Diocese of Winona in Minnesota is the latest to make a communion decision in the wake of a national meeting of American bishops on the issue.

"It is time we recognize that morality and ethics — not our political parties — determine what we believe," Harrington wrote in the latest edition of the diocesan newspaper, The Courier.

Harrington added that "any Catholics who steadfastly support abortion should not come forward" for the sacrament, though he did not name any elected officials or say he would actively urge priests in the diocese to refuse communion to anyone.

Also, last week, Wilmington, Delaware Bishop Michael Saltarelli agreed that Catholics who support abortion should voluntarily refrain from taking communion.

In his statement, Bishop Saltarelli told Catholic institutions not to "[honor] Catholic politicians who take pro-abortion legislative positions or invite them to speak at our functions and schools."

Though he also won’t specifically refuse to provide communion, Saltarelli said the "promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter" and said it would be "more spiritually beneficial" for pro-abortion Catholics to sit out.

Last month, a council of U.S. Bishops voted to leave the decision of whether or not to deny communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians up to the individual bishops in each diocese.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Bishop Anthony Pilla said he will not ban elected officials who back abortion from taking the Christian sacrament.

"The Church places the responsibility of such a judgment first on those presenting themselves for Holy Communion," Bishop Anthony Pilla said in a statement Thursday.

However, Bishop Pilla said his decision should not be interpreted as condoning practices that take human life, such as abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research.

"Those who take positions or act in ways that are contrary to fundamental moral principles should not underestimate the seriousness of this situation," Bishop Pilla said.

In light of the decision by the nation’s Catholic bishops, the responsibility has fallen to each bishop to make a decision whether or not to withhold communion.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has already indicated he would refuse to provide communion to pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.