.- Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive Communion, but that decision should be left to the politician to make, not to the bishop or priest, said Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg in a pastoral letter this week.
The recently appointed bishop of this small Pennsylvania diocese wrote the letter, he said, “in an effort to clarify the Catholic Church's teaching as it relates to certain issues which have emerged as a result of this year's election campaigns.”
In the letter, titled “Integrity and the Political Arena,” the bishop wrote that a Catholic politician who has “an established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church” is “engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil.”
“A pattern of public cooperation in grave evil inevitably calls into extreme question one's worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” he said. “A pattern of public rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church separates one in a fundamental way from the communion of faith, which is the Catholic Church.
“What sense then does receiving the effective sign of that oneness in a communion of faith, which is the Eucharist, have in such a situation? None, because it is a contradiction in terms,” the bishop said frankly.
“The Eucharist is aptly called Holy Communion because, of its nature, it reflects a communion or unity of belief on the part of those receiving it,” he continued.
Bishop Brandt said pro-abortion politicians who receive Communion bear “false witness to the Catholic faith” and offend other “informed Catholics” who know that their actions in support of abortion legislation are contrary to the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life.
“To receive Holy Communion under these circumstances is not only offensive to committed Catholics, but it is also offensive to pro-life Catholic public officials who often risk their public careers to fight for the pro-life cause,” he said. “It is also offensive to those Catholic public officials who voluntarily refrain from receiving the Eucharist because of their recognition of their compromised status.”
However, the bishop said the decision about whether a pro-abortion politician can receive Communion should be left up to the politician to make, based on his or her conscience.
“I think the decision about the reception of Holy Communion should be put where it belongs – on the person contemplating receiving Holy Communion. It should not be imposed on the bishop, on the priest, on the deacon, nor on the Eucharistic minister. That is ‘passing the buck!’” he stated.
While the decision is ultimately up to the individual, the bishop urged that pro-abortion Catholic politicians who continue to receive Communion “should be challenged to take ownership of the consequences of a lack of integrity by publicly acknowledging that what they do contradicts who they say they are,” he said.
The bishop also spoke in favor of the U.S. bishops’ June decision that discourages Catholic organizations and institutions from honoring those Catholics whose public actions are in defiance of the fundamental tenets of Catholic faith by giving them awards or honors.
The bishop added that these public officials should also refrain from presenting themselves as candidates for lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, as godparents at baptism or sponsors at confirmation.
Read the full Pastoral Letter at: