Catholic Politicians Supporting Abortion Up to Birth Should Not Present Themselves for Communion

Opinion   |   Father Frank Pavone   |   Mar 7, 2019   |   2:59PM   |   Washington, DC

For many, it is a breath of fresh air to see Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the Archbishop of Kansas City, who also is Chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee for Pro-life Activities, write the following words just a matter of days ago:

“Recent efforts to perpetuate and expand abortion in state laws have illuminated the deplorable actions of some Catholic public officials and advocates. …While we can object to the actions of these public officials, we are not able to judge their souls. At the same time, we know there will be a Judgment Day. Conscious and unrepentant mortal sin endangers our eternal souls and places ourselves on a path to Hell… I also have a serious obligation to protect other members of my flock from being misled by a seeming tolerance of the scandalous behavior of some Catholics in public life… I have found it necessary to request that they not present themselves to receive Holy Communion…”

One reason that so many of the faithful find this refreshing is because they know the sacrifices that they and their own families are making to live out their faith. So when they see public officials claiming the name of “Catholic” but then throwing the demands of that faith out the window, it makes a mockery of those sacrifices and of the Faith itself.

And everyone in the pro-life cause knows the need for leadership by the clergy on a matter so fundamental as child-killing.

Now it should also be refreshing to note that Archbishop Naumann is actually echoing something that all the American bishops wrote in their 1998 document “Living the Gospel of Life” (see for text and commentary). Paragraphs 29 through 32 of that document contain strong admonitions both for pro-abortion Catholic officials and also for bishops

“As bishops, we have the responsibility to call Americans to conversion, including political leaders …Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the inviolability of the human person indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life… [S]ome Catholic officials may exclude themselves from the truth by refusing to open their minds to the Church’s witness. In all cases, bishops have the duty and pastoral responsibility to continue to challenge those officials on the issue in question and persistently call them to a change of heart… We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin. …. No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life.”

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Again, it’s refreshing.

And it points to something I always say to those who write to me and ask in frustration why the bishops don’t excommunicate pro-abortion politicians. I point out that this is a question that it is up to the bishops to answer, but that no matter what they do or don’t do, we can shout from the rooftops the clear teaching they have already articulated, in passages like the ones I quoted above. We should be reading and re-reading Living the Gospel of Life; priests should be preaching it; we should all be tweeting about it, distributing it, having study groups about it, and more.

And one other question comes to mind. Why, indeed, would a pro-abortion Catholic politician even want to receive Communion? Why, in fact, would they believe that it is the Body of Christ?

Think about this for a moment. What conclusion is easier to reach: that the Communion host changes from bread into the Body of Christ, or that the baby in the womb is a baby? Which statement has more evidence from our senses?

The fact is that a Catholic pro-abortion public official who accepts that Communion is the Body of Christ is accepting the teaching authority of the Church in regard to Communion, but is then rejecting that very same teaching authority, of that very same Church, in regard to abortion.

The Communion host is God, but the unborn child is not the image of God. That is the inherent contradiction in which the pro-abortion Catholic public official is caught.

It should make them think twice, and consider that if they accept something that so wondrously transcends human reason and observation regarding Communion, maybe it’s time to also accept what the most basic human reason and observation reveal about the child in the womb. And it should embolden us as we challenge them to repent.