Politicians and Sacraments

Editors Note: The recent article, Phoenix Bishop Says Pro-Abort Politicians May Not Receive Communion, deals with this matter as well.

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Can Catholic politicians be pro-choice and still receive Holy Communion?

God be with you,

Joe Pace

Whiting, New Jersey

Dear Joe,

Peace in Christ!

The gravity of pro-choice acts — based on the belief that those seeking abortion should not be denied access — is taught in a number of Church documents, including Humanae Vitae, Declaration on Procurement of Abortion, and Evangelium Vitae. A public official cannot be both pro-choice and faithful to the Gospel of Jesus.

Canon law provides that the bishop take “fraternal” steps of correction or rebuke prior to imposing penalties (c. 1341). Because there is a pastoral and confidential relationship between the ordinary and the public official, we cannot presume to judge a particular situation. Further, while canon law both grants and limits the rights of the bishop to punish, the application of sanctions is left largely to his discretion.

On the other hand, canon law provides for who may participate in the sacraments. Regarding the Eucharist, those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion” (c. 915).

Please see our Faith Fact: A Matter of Reception: Abortion, Holy Communion, and Catholic Politicians.

United in the Faith,

Peter Balbirnie

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

Editor's Note: To submit a faith question to Catholic Exchange, email faithquestions@catholicexchange.com. Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange becomes the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. Email addresses of viewers will not normally be published.

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