The 18 Democrats who recently criticized Pope Benedict XVI when he answered questions about Mexico City’s legalization of abortion, both misrepresented the Pope’s remarks and defied freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement in response to the allegations of the 18 Democrats who attempted to correct the Pope.
“In an unfortunate May 10 statement, 18 of the 88 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks concerning Mexican lawmakers legalizing abortion. The Representatives’ statement misrepresents the Holy Father’s remarks and implies that the Church does not have a right to voice its teaching in the public square.”
A great deal of noise was made about Benedict XVI and a bishop of Mexico City allegedly excommunicating the lawmakers in Mexico City who voted in favor of legalizing abortion. However, no such formal decree of excommunication was ever issued by the Pope or the bishop from Mexico City.
“The Holy See has made clear that neither the Mexican bishops nor the Holy Father have excommunicated any legislator. Rather, the Holy See reiterated longstanding Church teaching that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong, that is, a mortal sin, should not approach the Eucharist until going to confession. “
“The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision of society.” (United States Catechism for Adults, p. 442) Consequently, every Catholic is obliged to respect human life, from conception until natural death, including lawmakers.
Ironically, the suggestion by the U.S. lawmakers that the Church not speak out on the matter, was a violation of the freedom of speech as well as the freedom of religion. “The Catholic Church always will and must speak out against the destruction of innocent unborn children. The right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution that all legislators are elected to uphold. Speaking and acting against abortion is not a matter of partisan politics. It is a matter of life and death.”
The bishops concluded by urging “all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity.”