âThe view of refusing Communion to politicians who support keeping abortion legal is not part of the pastoral tradition of the Church,â he wrote in his statement. âGiven the longstanding practice of not making a public judgment about the state of the soul of those who present themselves for Communion, the pastoral tradition of the Church places the responsibility of such a judgment first on those presenting themselves for Holy Communion.â.- In a long statement to the faithful of his diocese, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland announced that he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, stating that the altar is ânot a place for confrontation.â
The former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that no one should misunderstand reservations about refusing Communion âas ignoring or excusing those who clearly contradict Catholic teaching in their public roles.â
Politicians and others, who act in opposition to fundamental Church teachings, âshould not underestimate the seriousness of this situation,â said the bishop. âThey must study Catholic teaching, recognize their grave responsibility to protect human life from conception to natural death, and adopt positions consistent with these principles.
âHowever, in my view,â he continued, âthe battles for human life and dignity and for the weak and vulnerable should be fought not at the Communion rail, but in the public square, in hearts and minds, in our pulpits and public advocacy, in our consciences and communities.
âThe altar is a place of unity, healing, nourishment and grace,â he stated. âIt is not a place for confrontation.â
Citing Fr. John Courtney Murray, a controversial theorist on the engagement of Catholics in political life, Bishop Pilla defended a politicianâs right to use the democratic process and the right of free speech to persuade public opinion in favor of his or her position on a public moral issue, such as abortion. âThis cannot reasonably or justly be alleged as imposing oneâs personal views on others,â he said.
âAs Catholics, we have the religious and moral responsibility of advocating social policies and laws that safeguard the rights of the unborn and the well being of the mother,â he said.
But he emphasized that he is not suggesting that âCatholic public officials are obligated to incorporate all precepts of divine and moral law in civil statutes,â or that they âare not free in conscience to disagree with their bishops on public policy questions.
Bishop Pillaâs full statement: www.dioceseofcleveland.org/bishop/politicsstatement.htm