Denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians is part of Catholic teaching, Bishop of Fargo says

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, appealed to both pro-life and pro-abortion Catholics to listen to the words of Christ and follow his teachings with regards to right-to-life issues in a recent homily. Citing St. Justin Martyr and St. Paul, the bishop also said that those who do not live according to the Gospels and follow Church teachings should not receive the Eucharist.

The bishop spoke on this theme because he said he could not remain silent in light of the recent debate in the media on whether Sen. John Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic, and other pro-abortion politicians should be able to receive Communion.

“I have the responsibility and duty before God to teach and to present to you the teaching of the Church on the matter of living one’s faith in the world,” said the bishop.

One’s faith and political life should not be lived separately, he said. Bishop Aquila pointed out that the split between the faith and one’s daily life is an egregious error that was addressed during Second Vatican Council in 1965.

The bishop said “the seriousness of the error is far greater today,” since abortion is now legal in the United States.

He went on to cite Gaudium et Spes, one of the Second Vatican Council documents, which teaches that there should be “no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties towards his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation.”

“My sisters and brothers, pro-choice Catholics, Catholics for a free choice, must listen to those words, for they are the truth rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

The role of the laity in particular is to seek “the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs,” emphasizing that they are called to order them according to the plan of God.

“That is the responsibility of every Christian,” the bishop said. “That is the responsibility of every Catholic politician – to order all temporal affairs according to the plan of God, according to the way of God. The teaching is clear, based in Scripture and tradition.”

The bishop spoke regarding the question of sanctions for Catholics who are pro-abortion, citing the words of St. Justin Martyr, who said: “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.”

“I would remind Catholic politicians, clergy and all of the faithful of the words of St. Paul when he reminds the people who are not living their lives according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and yet still receive the Eucharist that they bring judgment on themselves,” he said. “They bring judgment on themselves. Let those words sink in.”

The bishop reminded the faithful that at the end of one’s life, “God will not be interested if we were a Republican, an independent, or a Democrat. He will not even be interested in what occupation we had in life. What He will be most interested in is our faithfulness to Him and our faithfulness to His Son. What He will be most interested in is if we loved Him, no matter what the cost, and if we obeyed His commandments.”

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