by Steven Ertelt
March 13, 2007
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI issued a new document Tuesday saying that Catholic politicians have a "non-negotiable" duty to oppose practices like abortion and euthanasia. The pontiff also reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s position that political leaders who endorse these anti-life practices should voluntarily refuse communion.
The 140-page booklet that was the result of meetings that took place in the Vatican in 2005 on important church doctrine.
In the "Apostolic Exhortation" the Pope said all Catholics have a duty to uphold the church’s pro-life teachings but that the responsibility was "especially incumbent" on those in positions of power.
He said elected officials should foster a "respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death."
"Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce laws inspired by values grounded in human nature," he said.
"These values are not negotiable," he said in the new document.
The pope also said that local bishops in the United States have a responsibility to encourage local politicians to uphold pro-life values.
"Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them," he wrote in the document.
The bishops are also charged with the task of monitoring whether elected officials in their local churches shouldn’t be receiving communion because of a violation of the church’s pro-life teachings.
"There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist. Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them," the pope said.
According to an AP news report, reporters asked Venice Cardinal Angelo Scola if the new document instructed bishops to not give communion to pro-abortion politicians. The cardinal didn’t answer and said the document "doesn’t say what it doesn’t want to say."