It seems to be on everyone’s mind, whether or not to give Holy Communion to known Catholic Pro-abortion Politicians. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago shares his thought in an interview in the June 13-19 National Catholic Register.
Cardinal George on Abortion and Communion
Here are some excerpts from the George interview:
Abortion is a particularly important issue. It’s unique, it’s about life and death, and abortion is intrinsically immoral. It’s not the same as “can there be just wars” or “does the state still have the right in theory to execute someone who’s a threat to safety” . . . .
Other issues, even life issues, are not as absolute as abortion. It is a unique case. But the reception of Communion is in the hands of the individual who examines his life and then says, “I am free enough of grave sin that I can go to the Lord as a penitent and ask for the forgiveness of my sins and be in more perfect communion with God and the Church.” And we leave that up to the individual, usually.
What we’re talking about here is a public sin, and that’s where the rub comes in. If someone is a private sinner, we assume they went to confession, and he is now ready to receive Communion. Otherwise you put the priest in an impossible situation.
You put the burden on the priest who’s giving Communion, and he might or might not recognize the individual who comes forward — there might be someone with a camera taking a picture and that further exacerbates it. The point of all of this is to weaken episcopal authority. The secularists want the Church to be in uproar and want episcopal authority — the principle of unity in the Church — to be shown to be in disarray. If that goes, we’re just a collection of individuals — we’re Protestants with a few Catholic customs. So that is where people on all sides play into a secularist agenda. . . .
[W]e have a group working on a common policy and I will discuss that with the other bishops and come up with a common policy. I hope in June. If we can’t do that, then again it will be everyone for himself. And that doesn’t help keep the Church united.
What’s clear about the scandal — and it is a scandal of politicians — is that not one has said, “I don’t accept what the Church teaches on the morality of abortion,” but they say that they’re faithful Catholics, not rejecting the Church teaching. But then they ignore Evangelium Vitae’s injunction that a Catholic politician must accept the law as it is, and work to change it if it’s against the common good. . . .
Abortion is a great scandal and politicians should be working to limit abortion. But in the Unites States we got abortion as a dictate of the courts and therefore it’s a constitutional right, and you don’t limit rights, so our rhetoric does us no good and our democratic system has failed miserably in this as judges establish their own whims as the law of the land and there is no way to recall them. It’s a faulty democratic system. You have politicians saying it a right and they have to defend it. . . .
The document on participation of Catholics in political life does not envisage sanctions. The Code of Canon Law says you can refuse communion to a manifest public sinner. We have never yet said it , but we might, that someone can be called a manifest public sinner because of the way he votes. If we say that it’s a new step in pastoral practice, then we ought to say it together. I can see an argument for saying it, and I can see an argument for hesitating to say it, but at this point I think the bishops should try to say whatever they’re going to say together . . . .
In a political campaign . . . everything gets politicized, and the problem is the demands of the faith which are never absorbed in politics become absorbed in politics because that’s how the media reports them, as political moves rather than coming from our concern for the nature of the Eucharist and the communion with the Church when you receive it. . . .
Americans like to say you can do what you like if it doesn’t hurt your neighbor, but the problem is that the unborn child is a neighbor, even while some are playing off the woman’s independence for a freedom they believe is more important than the life of her child.
It is getting harder to say nobody is hurt in abortion and that a woman’s freedom allows it. That is where crisis comes up. In America we will kill to keep our freeedoms.
Do the Right Thing
Well, our hope is that George and the other Bishops will, at the earliest, come up with a firm statement that orders some 500 pro-abortion politicians away from Communion under Cannon 915. Quit worrying about the media and the politicians, and send the clear message that Communion is a sacred sacrament of the living, that Abortion is a terrible crime of killing the unborn, and just leave it at that.
It would be a powerful message to all the faithful and all the faithless. It would be unpopular with the pagan press, and pro-abortion politicians, but is the right and heroic thing to do.