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Congressman dares bishops to deny him Communion over support for abortion, contraception

The entrance to the office of Rep. Ted Lieu in Washington D.C. on July 18, 2017. / Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

In a series of tweets from his personal social media account over the weekend, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called the U.S. bishops “partisan hypocrites” and dared them to deny him Communion over his support for contraception, legal abortion, and “same-sex marriage.” 

In a tweet tagging the U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday, Lieu, a Catholic, wrote that he supports contraception, “A woman’s right to choose,” and “The right of same sex marriage.”

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” Lieu wrote to the bishops.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles - which includes the territory of Lieu’s congressional district - did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNA on Monday. 

The issue of Communion for pro-abortion politicians has resurfaced following the election of President Joe Biden - a Catholic who supports taxpayer-funded abortion. Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted last week to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, a proposed outline of the document did not single out the president or any public official. 

It included a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency,” or worthiness to receive Communion. The bishops’ doctrine committee said the proposed document would include “a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith.” 

Some bishops last week did affirm the need to safeguard the Eucharist from scandal, during debates over the document. They cited cases where Catholic politicians who support permissive legislation on grave evils approach to receive Communion, despite having been warned about their positions. 

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo on Communion, said that Catholic politicians who are “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” are considered to be formally cooperating in the grave sin of abortion, and in a “manifest” way. 

In such cases, Ratzinger said, the pastor of the official must meet with them and admonish them, instructing them that they cannot receive Communion. If the politicians persist in their pro-abortion advocacy, the minister of Communion “must refuse to distribute it,” he said. 

On Friday, 60 Catholic Democratic members of Congress issued a joint statement asking not to be denied Communion over their stances on the abortion issue. Lieu, one of the signers of the statement, issued a series of tweets from his personal Twitter account that criticized the U.S. bishops, and dared the bishops to deny him Communion.

In other tweets over the weekend, Lieu criticized the U.S. Bishops for not denying communion to Catholic Republicans, especially to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for his extramarital affairs and multiple divorces. Lieu also brought up the case of former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Catholic who sought to resume use of the federal death penalty and pushed for the execution of 13 inmates in the span of seven months. 

He also brought up other hypothetical scenarios and asked the bishops if they would deny Communion in those cases. 

“Dear @USCCB: Are you going to deny Communion to Catholic athletes who use condoms?” he asked. “Or deny Communion to Catholics who believe people should have the right to decide if they want to use contraception?”

“How radical is the @USCCB decision? A Catholic can love Jesus with all her heart, oppose abortion & work at Catholic Relief Services. But if she believes government shouldn’t put women in jail for an abortion, then she can be denied Communion,” Lieu tweeted

Lieu also argued “God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction.” 

“Dear @USCCB: Instead of denying God to Catholic human beings who disagree with your political views, you should be inviting everyone to God’s table. God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction. Remember Agape?” he asked. “It’s no wonder Catholic membership has been rapidly declining.”

During their meeting last week, some bishops warned against drafting the Eucharistic document with the section on “Eucharistic consistency,” saying that they could be seen as partisan actors or as politicizing the Eucharist.

Supporters of the document, including the bishops’ pro-life chair, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, said that the bishops needed to call for “integrity” from Catholic public officials. Archbishop Naumann said that those Catholic politicians who contradicted the Church’s teachings on grave issues and approached to receive Communion anyway were the ones politicizing the Eucharist.

“Those who advocate for abortion no longer talk in the language of choice,” Naumann said on Thursday. “They talk about it [abortion] as a right.” Pope Francis, he added, expressed agreement that the issue of abortion is a “preeminent” concern for the Church, during the ad limina meetings with the U.S. bishops in Rome during 2019 and 2020.

“We’re calling everybody to integrity, including those in public life,” he said. 

In their joint statement, the 60 Catholic House Democrats affirmed their commitment to “the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching.” The members said they also believe “the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents.”

They referred to their position on abortion as “support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion,” and said that denying Communion to Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on abortion would be a “weaponization of the Eucharist.”

“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” the statement said.  

They added that no elected officials “have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist” on issues such as the death penalty, family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, or failing to reduce food insecurity. 

On Friday, Biden was asked about a “resolution” by the U.S. bishops to deny him and other publicly pro-choice politicians Communion - even though the bishops’ vote was not on a national Communion policy, but rather on whether to begin drafting the teaching document. Biden replied, “That's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen.”

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St. Aloysius Gonzaga

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Feast date: Jun 21

As a young boy, St. Aloysius always had a great desire to know and serve God, but his family life was not always supportive of this desire. He was born into a noble Italian family, and his father was a compulsive gambler. He grew up in a castle and was trained from a very young age to be a soldier and courtier, and despite the opposition of his family, he taught catechism to poor boys.

He encountered many holy people in his lifetime; he received his first Communion from St. Charles Borromeo and studied under St. Robert Bellarmine. As a teen, he suffered from a kidney disease which he considered a blessing, as it left him with plenty of time for prayer.

At 18 he signed away his legal claim to his title and his family's lands and entered the Jesuits. He died shortly thereafter of the plague at the age of 23, having devotedly cared for plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591.

He was canonized in 1726 and is the patron saint of youth, AIDS patients and AIDS caregivers.

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Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Reading I Gn 12:1-9

The LORD said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the LORD directed him, and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
Abram took his wife, Sarai, his brother’s son Lot,
all the possessions that they had accumulated,
and the persons they had acquired in Haran,
and they set out for the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land
as far as the sacred place at Shechem,
by the terebinth of Moreh.
(The Canaanites were then in the land.)

The LORD appeared to Abram and said,
“To your descendants I will give this land.”
So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel,
pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east.
He built an altar there to the LORD and invoked the LORD by name.
Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.

Responsorial Psalm 33:12-13, 18-19, 20 and 22

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia Heb 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,

able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I Jb 38:1, 8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
    Who shut within doors the sea,
        when it burst forth from the womb;
    when I made the clouds its garment
        and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
    When I set limits for it
        and fastened the bar of its door,
    and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
        and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Responsorial Psalm 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31

R. (1b) Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They who sailed the sea in ships,
    trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
    and his wonders in the abyss.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
His command raised up a storm wind
    which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
    their hearts melted away in their plight.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They cried to the LORD in their distress;
    from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
    and the billows of the sea were stilled.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They rejoiced that they were calmed,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
    and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading II 2 Cor 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

Alleluia Lk 7:16

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has risen in our midst 
God has visited his people.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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