It is “equitable and just” to refuse Holy Communion to Catholics who contradict the fundamental Church teachings on human life, said the rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary in the Diocese of San Francisco. Fr. Gerald Coleman expressed this view in an article that he wrote, which was published in the diocesan paper.
Fr. Coleman’s article, entitled “Why pro-abortion Catholics can't take Communion: Dignity of human life and participation in Holy Communion”, appeared in the latest issue of Catholic San Francisco.
“The Church already excludes from Communion persons remarried without an annulment. Such persons are seen to be in contradiction to the Church's teaching on the sanctity and permanence of a valid marriage,” Fr. Coleman wrote.
“Extending this prohibition to include any Catholic who stands in unambiguous contradiction to fundamental Church teachings on human life thus seems equitable and just, but more importantly and hopefully, a call to conversion of heart and thinking,” he continued.
“The Eucharist is par excellence the sacrament of unity in the Church,” he said. “If we cannot be united with the Church in belief and action, then, should we not excuse ourselves from the Sacrament that signifies unity and faith by its very nature?”
Fr. Coleman suggested that, “from a pastoral point of view, it would seem wiser if a Catholic would make the necessary decision in his or her own regard about proper admission to Holy Communion, rather than waiting for a bishop's determination.”
The rector also said “Catholics must resist in our own lives all tendencies to give personal or political support to non-protection of human life in every stage and level of its being.”
Fr. Coleman recognized that the United States is not a Catholic society. However, he argued, pro-life concerns “are not Catholic issues alone; rather, they are human issues that affect our political and social lives.”
“As citizens, we cannot divorce our faith from our moral choices, a concept especially binding on lawmakers since politics must be concerned with true human life and social good,” he wrote.
He argued that there are “non-negotiable ethical principles that ground society,” which can never be compromised, such as the individual’s basic rights to life and to active participation in public life, as well as the protection of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Citing the “Doctrinal Note On Some Questions Regarding Participation of Catholics in Political Life”, which was issued by the Vatican in November 2002, Fr. Coleman emphasized that “lawmakers have a ‘grave and clear obligation’ to oppose any law that attacks these fundamental ethical principles.
“There is a rightful autonomy of politics from religion, but never from morality,” he said. “The faithful cannot live on two parallel levels, a spiritual level where one believes in fundamental ethical values and, on the other hand, a secular level where one lives out one's life in family, work, society and culture.”
Fr. Coleman lauded those bishops who have publicly urged Catholic lawmakers and politicians to live their faith in office, namely Cardinal Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston and Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He made particular mention of Archbishop Raymond Burke, who, on Jan. 8, said Catholic legislators who are pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia commit a serious sin and cannot receive Holy Communion until they "publicly renounce their support of these most unjust practices."
Fr. Coleman pointed out that Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans and Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay, Wisconsin, have taken similar stands.