Three Catholic Bishops Say No Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Three Catholic Bishops Say No Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 4, 2004

Atlanta, GA ( — Three leading Catholic bishops in southern states said Wednesday that elected officials who back abortion and refuse to recant their position should be denied communion in Catholic churches in their jurisdictions.

The Archbishop of Atlanta and bishops in Charlotte, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina put in place some of the strongest guidelines on communion and abortion.

They said pro-abortion politicians must publicly renounce their views and seek permission from the bishops to continue receiving communion. Their decision affects more than 200 churches.

"Catholics in political life have the responsibility to exemplify in their public service [the pro-life] teaching of the Church, and to work for the protection of all innocent life," the bishops said.

"Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner," the bishops wrote. "By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance."

Atlanta Archbishop John Donoghue, Charleston Bishop Robert Baker and Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis signed the joint statement called, "Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion."

Bishop Baker went further in a memo to parish priests by saying that they could not determine if a politician could again receive communion. That decision is up to him, Baker said.

"This is pretty draconian," Frances Kissling, president of the Washington-based Catholics For a Free Choice, told the Associated Press in response.

"It certainly does not seem to be a mainstream strategy," Kissling said. "The overwhelming majority of Catholic people do not believe it is appropriate for a bishop to use Communion as a political sledgehammer to gain obedience."

However, a Zogby International poll of 1,388 Catholics conducted in May shows pro-abortion presidential nominee John Kerry 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, like Kerry, 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.

In June, the nation’s Catholic bishops decided that they would not make a collective decision whether or not to deny communion to politicians who support abortion.

Since then, many bishops have said pro-abortion elected officials should voluntarily refrain from taking the Christian sacrament until they change their position.

Related web sites:
Read the three bishops’ statement –
National Catholic Bishops’ statement on communion and abortion –