.- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved on Friday a statement highlighting that Catholics public officials who dissent from key Catholic teachings should refrain from taking communion, but leaving to each individual bishop the decision of denying Communion to individuals.
The bishops say in the statement that those who formulate law are obliged in conscience âto work toward correcting morally defective laws,â and calls on Catholics in public life to protect the unborn and oppose legal abortion âlest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.â
The bishops also pledged to counsel Catholic public officials who act âconsistently to support abortion on demandâ that this support could make them âcooperators in evil in a public manner.â
The statement, âCatholics in Political Life,â was adopted by a vote of 183-6. It came after the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians made an extensive interim report at the USCCBâ s special assembly, held in Denver, June 14-19, 2004.
In the statement, the bishops highlight:
- The need âto continue to teach clearlyâ and help other Catholic leaders to do so about their âunequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.â The statement notes that Catholic âteaching on human life and dignity should be reflected" in all parishes and all "educational, health care and human service ministries.â
- The need to do more âto persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended.â The bishops also welcome âconversation initiated by political leaders themselves.â
- The need for Catholics âto act in support of these principles and policies in public life.â
The statement also says that âthe Catholic community and Catholic institutionsâ should not honor those âwho act in defiance of our fundamental moral principlesâ with awards, honors, or âplatforms which would suggest support for their actions.â
Recalling the words of St. Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians about the unworthy reception of the body and blood of the Lord, the bishops state that âall must examine their consciencesâ about their worthiness to receive Holy Communion, including with regard to âfidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life.â
The statement notes that âthe question has been raisedâ whether it is necessary to deny Holy Communion to Catholics in public life who support abortion on demand.
âGiven the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgmentâ in this serious matter, the bishops state that they ârecognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with established canonical and pastoral principles.â
Noting that âbishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action,â they express their shared âunequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity.â
The bishops conclude their statement by saying that respect for the Holy Eucharist âdemands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world.â
Read the full statement at: