Catholic politicians, who defend pro-abortion policies should refrain from receiving Communion, although ministers should not make the decision of denying Communion, said Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett of Seattle in a pastoral letter he issued recently.
“The Eucharist must never become an instrument of division,” the archbishop wrote, explaining the significance of the sacrament.
“Fundamental misunderstandings about the relationship between faith and political responsibility have led to confusion on both sides of the current debate,” he said, referring to the ongoing dispute, which is playing out in the press, about whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied Communion.
For example, said the bishop, some Catholics suggest that “those who vocally and publicly assume pro-choice positions on abortion should be expelled from the Catholic community and the Eucharist.
“That would have the result of denying Eucharistic participation without formal, canonical due process,” he said, a process which requires dialogue and an opportunity for the accused to explain why they support a position that is contrary to Church teaching.
However, those who persist in public opposition should, “in integrity, … voluntarily withdraw from Eucharistic sharing without the need for formal action by the Church,” said the bishop.
“With that understanding, however, Ministers of the Eucharist should not take it upon themselves to deny Holy Communion to anyone who presents themselves,” the bishop emphasized.
Bishop points to contradictions
The bishop addressed the contradiction of pro-abortion Catholic politicians with great clarity.
“Catholics, including Catholic politicians, cannot on one hand profess to be in communion with the Catholic Church and on the other hand support abortions,” he said.
“It is one thing to enter into political discussion about abortion issues; it is another to support and campaign for abortion actively,” he continued. “In such cases, a clear contradiction exists between the active professing and living of one’s faith and one’s political agenda and actions.”
Catholic politicians, said Bishop Burnett, have an obligation to promote the sacredness and dignity of human life and eliminate the perceived need for abortions.
Church has right to voice principles
The U.S. Church recognizes the constitutional separation of church and state and the right of all citizens “to the full and free expression of their views in the public square,” said the bishop.
However, he continued, this right also applies to members of the Catholic Church, who are entitled to express their principles and who expect that their views be heard, without being disregarded or rejected simply because they stem from the Gospel and Church teaching.
Archbishop Brunett’s full statement is at: http://www.seattlearch.org/ArchdioceseWorking/PastoralLettersOfficials/