Pope Francis on Wednesday said that Communion is reserved for those who are “in the community” of the Catholic Church and indicated that pro-abortion politicians like Joe Biden are “outside of the community.”
The head of the Catholic Church today condemned abortion in no uncertain terms — calling it “murder” and saying that human life begins at conception.
But he also commented extensively on the issue of communion for pro-abortion politicians. He told the story of a time when he inadvertently gave Communion to a Jewish woman at a retirement home who had approached the sacrament in ignorance.
He stressed that Catholic leaders should be pastors trying to get people to get back on a Godly path and focus on condemnation verses excommunication.
“What should the pastor do? Be a shepherd, do not go around condemning … but be a pastor. But is he also a pastor of the excommunicated? Yes, he is the pastor and … he must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion, and tenderness,” the pope said.
“For me, I don’t want to particularize […] the United States because I don’t know the details well, I give the principle … Be a pastor and the pastor knows what he has to do at all times, but as a shepherd. But if he comes out of this shepherding of the Church, immediately he becomes a politician,” Francis said.
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He then referred to the question of communion for people who are divorced and remarried Catholics.
“Do you remember the storm that was stirred by Amoris laetitia when that chapter on accompanying separated, divorced couples came out: ‘Heresy, heresy!’ Thank God there was Cardinal Schönborn, a great theologian who clarified things,” he said.
“But always condemnation, condemnation, enough with excommunication. Please let us not place any more excommunications. Poor people. They are children of God. They are outside temporarily, but they are children of God and they want, and need, our pastoral closeness. Then the pastors work things out by the Spirit of God.”
Pope Francis said: “Those who are not in the community cannot take Communion — like this Jewish lady, but the Lord wanted to reward her and without my knowledge — why?”
“Because they are out of the community, excommunicated, they are ‘excommunicated’ it is called. It is a harsh term, but what it means is that they are not in the community, or because they do not belong, or are baptized but have drifted away from some of the things.”
After talking about abortion he again emphasized the issue of being in the Catholic community to receive communion.
“Those people who are not in the community cannot take communion, because they are out of the community,” he insisted. “It is not a punishment: Communion is linked to the community.”
But the Pope added that communion is meant to be something extraordinarily special for Christian people and that the sacrament should not be taken lightly.
“Communion is not a prize for the perfect … communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his church,” the pope said.
The nation’s Catholic bishops voted this summer in favor of drafting a document on communion that could rebuke pro-abortion politicians like Biden depending on how it’s worded.
After two days of debate in June, the USCCB announced the results of the vote, with 168 bishops voting yes to create a new document on communion and public life, 55 voting no, and 6 abstaining. With a majority voting in the affirmative, the bishops will now draft the document and then discuss and debate it at another annual meeting scheduled for November.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, made it clear on Wednesday that the bishops would not draft a document that specifically denies communion to pro-abortion politicians and it may not even hand down a policy on how to deal with pro-abortion politicos who want to remain in good standing with the Catholic Church. Instead, the document will likely consist of guidelines that are more of a a “teaching document on how communion can be more consistent, while leaving the actual decision about receiving or denying communion to individual bishops. it would encourage pro-abortion politicians to get in line with the Church’s pro-life teachings.
“The statement will be addressed to all Catholics,” the outline approved today reads, though it notes it would also “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”
The text of the proposal itself has not been written, and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote during the November meeting — something potentially achievable given the 3-1 majority vote to begin the drafting process. But how far it will go to rebuke Biden and pro-abortion politicians is another question.
When asked at a press conference on Thursday following the vote if Biden should be able to receive communion because of his pro-abortion views, Bishop Rhoades said, “I can’t answer that question.”
“We will be looking at that whole issue of Eucharistic consistency. … When you look at cannon law, that is a decision of his bishop,” he added.