Robert Novak’s latest column on pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion during the Pope’s visit to the U.S., has caused both Cardinal Egan and the Archdiocese of Washington to speak about the situation.
In his Washington Post column on Monday, the recent convert from Judaism to Catholicism argued that allowing politicians who support abortion to receive the Eucharist during the Pope’s visit “reflected disobedience to Benedict by the archbishops of New York and Washington.”
According to Novak and other news sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three senators — John Kerry, Edward Kennedy, and Christopher Dodd—received Communion at an outdoor Mass at Nationals Park in Washington. Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, received Communion at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, according to Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.
Zwilling added that the statement from Cardinal Egan was prompted by Robert Novak’s column and by comments circulating about the elected officials who had received Communion. “The cardinal felt it was important to clarify what had been the understanding, and to address it publicly,” he said.
The Archdiocese of Washington also weighed in on the controversy, telling the New York Times that Archbishop Donald Wuerl had “consistently and persistently presented the Church’s clear teaching on the evil of abortion and the need for those in public office to recognize that the support of abortion is wrong.”
“How to respond to those in public office who support abortion legislation is open to various legitimate pastoral approaches, as the United States bishops affirmed in their June 2004 statement on Catholics in political life,” the statement said. “The decision concerning the refusal of Holy Communion to an individual can best be made by the bishop in the person’s home diocese with whom he or she presumably is in conversation.”
When contacted for additional comment by CNA, Susan Gibbs, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, said that she would not provide a statement. The reasons she gave for not providing a statement were that she doesn't consider CNA worthy of a statement and that she is "not interested" in providing one.