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Posted on 05/7/2021 23:33 PM ()
Posted on 05/7/2021 23:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
Arizona’s five bishops expressed their gratitude at a new law forbidding hospitals from unduly restricting clergy visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic, too many people have died without the spiritual assistance or sacraments desired at the end of their lives,” said the May 5 letter, which was signed by Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson; Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix; Bishop Eduardo Nevares, auxiliary bishop of Phoenix; Bishop James Wall of Gallup; and Bishop John Pazak, of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.
“Even now, there remain places where clergy are not able to have in-person visits that are requested by dying patients,” said the bishops.
The legislation, HB 2575, was introduced by state Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley). It amends Arizona law to say that if a hospital is allowing in-person visits of any kind, “the hospital must facilitate the ability of clergy to visit the patient in person for religious purposes.”
The law states that clergy must follow “reasonable health and safety precautions,” and that if in-person visits are suspended, “the hospital must facilitate a virtual clergy visit using communication technology.”
HB 2575 was passed on May 5 and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) the same day.
Arizona’s law comes after many hospital systems enacted strict visitation policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In December 2020, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services resolved an allegation of religious discrimination in New York after a Jewish man was denied access to a rabbi and kosher food.
Access to clergy resulted in the office resolving several complaints during the pandemic. Earlier in 2020, the office resolved complaints in Virginia and Maryland that resulted in hospital systems changing their visitation policies to allow for clerical visits.
In one of those cases, the Diocese of Arlington intervened on behalf of a dying Catholic COVID patient who was denied access to a priest because of hospital visitation policies. The OCR worked with the hospital to allow a priest inside to visit the patient before death.
The bishops said they were “extremely grateful” for the work of healthcare providers during the course of the pandemic, as “patients typically need both great care for their bodies as well as for their souls.”
“This new law is simple legislation that will allow clergy of all faiths to have in-person visitation in hospitals when requested by a patient and it is safe for any other visitor,” they said. “By providing this spiritual care, it will give great benefit and comfort to both dying patients and their families.”
Posted on 05/7/2021 22:06 PM ()
Posted on 05/7/2021 21:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
Top House Republicans moved this week to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as head of the GOP conference, and are likely to replace her with the Trump-backed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
Stefanik, in her fourth term representing upstate New York’s 21st district, could have an influential role as the third-ranking Republican in the House, especially if the party takes control of the chamber following the 2022 elections. Her ascendancy could also raise questions about her record on life and religious freedom issues.
One pro-life leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity as Stefanik has yet to enter her anticipated role, told CNA that Stefanik “has not been a leader” in the pro-life cause, adding “hopefully that will change.”
Cheney in January voted to impeach former President Donald Trump on charges that he incited the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. She initially held on to her leadership role after a vote in February, where some House Republicans sought to remove her for her impeachment support.
However, Cheney is not expected to remain in her role after a vote that will likely take place next week. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), have both backed Stefanik as a replacement for Cheney, as has Trump.
"Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership," Trump said in a statement this week. "Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!"
In a tweet thanking Trump for his endorsement, Stefanik wrote, “We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!”
Though she is allied with Trump politically, on matters of policy, Stefanik is less conservative than Cheney according to scorecards from some conservative and pro-life groups.
According to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, for instance, Cheney has an “A+” rating from the group, while Stefanik has a “B” on her scorecard.
The group cited Stefanik’s support for the Equality Act of 2019, which some pro-life leaders have warned could create a “right” to an abortion.
Although Stefanik voted for the Equality Act of 2019, she did not vote for the 2021 version. Opponents of the bill--which would have redefined discrimination on the basis of “sex” to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition”--expressed concern that language could be interpreted to include abortion.
The act, known for its extending civil rights protections to sexual orientation and gender identity as classes, has also been criticized by Catholic leaders for establishing broad protections for the redefinition of marriage and transgenderism, without sufficient religious freedom protections.
Stefanik also voted for an appropriations bill that would have overturned the Trump administration’s expansion of the Mexico City Policy. The policy barred funding of international pro-abortion groups in U.S. global health assistance, and was later reversed by President Joe Biden. Although Stefanik voted for the bill on its final passage, she did support an earlier unsuccessful attempt to restore the pro-life policy to the legislation.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider, gave Stefanik a 17% on its congressional scorecard, citing her support of the Equality Act and her voting in opposition to the Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act of 2015; that bill would have allowed states to exclude abortion providers from state Medicaid programs.
Cheney, meanwhile, has a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood Action.
Stefanik has also not yet joined a major House pro-life initiative this Congress: signing the discharge petition for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The act would require that babies surviving abortion attempts be given the requisite care that any newborn at that age would receive.
The petition, if it received a majority of signatures in the House (218), would force consideration of the legislation by the entire chamber, putting all members on the record of supporting or opposing the bill.
So far, 209 members - including seven members of New York’s delegation - have signed the petition. Stefanik has not.
In 2015, Stefanik was reportedly among a group of Republican female members who dissuaded party leadership from voting on a major pro-life bill on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
House GOP leaders had planned a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Jan. 22, a bill which would ban abortions once an unborn child is determined to feel pain – around 20 weeks into pregnancy. The proposed bill contained exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake, but required rape victims to report the rape to law enforcement. That requirement reportedly received some opposition among House Republicans.
Stefanik voted for a “Pain-Capable” bill later in May 2015, and again in 2017.
Cheney has refused to back down from criticizing Trump’s attempts to cast the 2020 election as illegitimate. McCarthy was caught on hot mic by Axios earlier this week saying “I've had it with her.”
Cheney appeared to accept her likely ouster in an opinion piece for the Washington Post published Wednesday, where she wrote that the Republican Party “is at a turning point.”
“Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney wrote, adding, “History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”
Posted on 05/7/2021 20:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Milwaukee, Wis., May 7, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).
On Friday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against the Wisconsin Department of Corrections after the agency refused to adjust a policy that prevents in-person clergy visits to correctional facilities.
“Visiting prisoners is a corporal work of mercy and follows the teachings of Jesus to visit those in prison,” Sandra Peterson, communication director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said May 7. “However, our clergy and chaplains have not been able to perform this important work for more than a year, which means prisoners have been denied access to the sacraments that are crucial to our Catholic faith.”
The lawsuit alleges that the visitor policy adopted March 13, 2020 in response to COVID-19 violates the right of the archdiocese and its clerics to minister to the religious needs of prisoners. The policy—which permits visits by Department of Corrections employees, such as teachers, social workers and psychologists, as well as attorneys—does not allow inmates to attend in-person religious services led by a volunteer minister, or to receive a sacrament administered by a volunteer minister.
Inmates are also prevented from meeting one-on-one with a volunteer minister for counseling under the policy.
The policy “contains no exceptions for visits by priests who, for example, are vaccinated and/or can comply with health and safety protocols designed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” the suit notes. Thus for more than a year, priests have been unable “to administer sacraments that cannot be administered virtually such as the Eucharist, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick” to inmates.
“The Wisconsin Department of Corrections was warned it is violating the law by prohibiting inmates from meeting in-person with volunteer priests and other religious ministers. It is simply not permitted to indefinitely suspend constitutional and statutory rights to the free exercise of religion,” said WILL Deputy Counsel Anthony LoCoco in a release.
The suit maintains that the DOC policy violates both state statute and the state constitutional guarantee to the free exercise of religion. Wisconsin statute says that “members of the clergy of all religious faiths shall have an opportunity, at least once each week, to conduct religious services within the state correctional institutions”, and that “every inmate shall receive, upon request, religious ministration and sacraments according to the inmate's faith”.
WILL filed a letter April 1 to demand the Department of Corrections reassess its policy by April 8. The DOC declined to update its policy. The lawsuit was filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
Posted on 05/7/2021 20:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Boston, Mass., May 7, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
During the night of May 2-3 a statue of Christ at a Massachusetts parish was decapitated.
The destruction at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Waltham, about 10 miles west of Boston, was discovered the morning of May 3.
Fr. Michael Nolan, the parish’s pastor, told CNA: “It's possible that it's an attack on the faith, a more direct attack on the faith, and a more serious act of sacrilege as opposed to … vandalism.”
Mary Darcy, 75, a parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo, told CNA: “It’s very upsetting to think that somebody would desecrate a statue.”
Fr. Nolan told CNA that this is the second attack on a Catholic facility in Waltham this year. An abandoned Catholic chapel was set on fire on Good Friday, in what has been ruled an arson.
The incident follows a series acts of vandalism against churches.
In April, the face on a statue of Christ was spray painted black at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the Fargo diocese. On March 13, the sidewalk outside Saint Joseph’s Parish on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. was vandalized with what appeared to be satanic graffiti.
In early February three statues of angels at St. Pius X Church in El Paso were toppled over and broken.
In early January, a statue of St. Therese of Lisieux was defaced with an upside-down cross, the word “satan,” and a pentagram, at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish in Abbeville, Louisiana.
Catholic Churches and statues throughout the United States were targeted for arson or vandalism throughout 2020 as well. Sometimes, churches were damaged amid mass riots and protests, such as in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while other churches appeared to be the targets of random acts of vandalism.
Posted on 05/7/2021 19:15 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 14:15 pm (CNA).
The Indiana supreme court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, filed by a former Catholic school teacher fired for contracting a same-sex civil marriage.
Luke Goodrich, VP and senior counsel at Becket, which represents the archdiocese, said that the dismissal of the lawsuit was a “major victory” for religious liberty.
“If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching,” he said.
The lawsuit against the archdiocese was filed by Joshua Payne-Elliott, a former teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. In 2017, Payne-Elliott entered a same-sex civil marriage with another Catholic school teacher in the archdiocese, Layton Payne-Elliott.
According to Becket, the archdiocese for two years considered what action to take, before instructing both Cathedral and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, where Layton Payne-Elliott taught, that their employment could not continue. The civil marriage had violated Church teaching, the archdiocese said.
Brebeuf refused the archbishop’s request, and the archdiocese in response revoked the school’s “Catholic” status. That revocation is on hold, as the school appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.
Cathedral High School, however, terminated Joshua Payne-Elliott’s contract in June 2019. After reaching a settlement with the school, he filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese in August 2019.
The archdiocese has the right to uphold Church teaching in its standards for employee conduct, Goodrich said on Friday.
“Every Catholic school teacher in the Archdiocese signs an agreement to uphold the Church’s teachings in word and deed. The teacher here was dismissed after he entered a same-sex union in knowing violation of this agreement and of millennia of Catholic teaching,” Goodrich said on Twitter.
Becket said that it invoked three legal protections on behalf of the archdiocese in the case: “Church Autonomy, which protects internal religious governance,” “Expressive Association, which protects the ability to form groups to express a message,” and “The Ministerial Exception, which protects the freedom to choose religious leaders.”
“It is important that courts consistently uphold the right of religious groups to operate by their religious principles. Choosing who teaches in a religious school is a religious decision. Today’s order ensures that those decisions will be made by churches, not governments,” Goodrich said.
Cathedral High School leaders said in a June 2019 letter that Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson “made it clear” that the school’s “continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”
“Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher,” said the letter, signed by Matt Cohoat, chairman of Cathedral High School’s board of directors, and Rob Bridges, the school’s president.
Archdiocesan policy states that Catholic schools must clearly state in their contracts and job descriptions that teachers must uphold and support the teachings of the Church in their lives.
In June 2019, the archdiocese said of teachers that “it is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”
Archbishop Thompson has emphasized that Payne-Elliott was not fired for having same-sex attraction, but for entering into a same-sex civil marriage. The matter, he said in 2019, “is about public witness of Church teaching on the dignity of marriage as one man and one woman. That is our Church teaching.”
“In this particular case we’re dealing with, those are ministers in our Church. Teachers, guidance counselors, other leaders, leaders of the schools and other leaders in the archdiocese are bound to live out these principles,” he said.
This article was updated on May 7.
Posted on 05/7/2021 19:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, May 7, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).
Dissenting Catholic politicians abuse and politicize the Eucharist when they receive the sacrament while promoting policies and actions contrary to the faith, such as legal abortion, according to theologian Father Thomas Weinandy.
Catholic politicians who reject Church teaching but then present themselves for Holy Communion “are using – and so abusing – the Eucharist for seemingly political purposes – to present themselves as ‘devout’ Catholics,” Fr. Weinandy, a Capuchin Franciscan, said in a May 1 essay for The Catholic Thing, “Politicizing the Eucharist”.
“What should most concern the Church is that such Catholic politicians do not simply hold many things that are in opposition to the Catholic faith, but they also actively attack, through the laws they propose and enact, the Catholic Church, the very church to which they claim devotion,” he said.
Fr. Weinandy is a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, a 30-member body which advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Holy See on doctrinal questions.
While some critics have said it politicizes the Eucharist when clergy suggest denying it to politicians who reject aspects of the faith, Fr. Weinandy countered that the politicians themselves are responsible.
“The politicizing of the Eucharist occurs in the act of the Catholic politician presenting himself or herself to receive Communion even though he or she is well aware that to do so is contrary to what the Church teaches,” he said. “Those who are objectively in the state of mortal sin, or who dissent from or promote contrary positions to the Church’s fundamental dogmatic or moral teaching are forbidden to receive the body and blood of Jesus, for they have made themselves unworthy to do so.”
“Some bishops argue that such Catholic politicians should not be refused Communion, for to do so would politicize the Eucharist. The refusal on the part of bishops or priests would indeed cause a political and media fuss, and prudence may suggest, in certain circumstances, that Communion should not be refused,” Fr. Weinandy added. “An argument could easily be made, however, that refusal should be made so as to avoid scandal and protect the integrity of the sacrament.”
The dispute has been long a question in Catholicism in America, where legal abortion often breaks along partisan lines. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision mandated nationwide permissive abortion laws, leading to millions of unborn children legally killed.
Fr. Weinandy reflected on Catholics who present themselves as devout. Devout Catholics, he said, don’t need to identify themselves as such because “it is evident to all that they are.”
“Everyone knows that they believe and uphold, and even promote, all that the Church teaches. When they sin against God’s commandments as taught by the Church, they go to Confession, resolve to amend their lives, and so obtain sacramental absolution. Such Catholics are devout without needing to trumpet it,” he said.
In Fr. Weinandy’s view, when a dissenting Catholic politician declares him or herself as a devout Catholic, “one immediately perceives that something is awry.” They and their supporters emphasize this “because there is something about their behavior that is suspect.”
Fr. Weinandy said that defenders of such politicians say that receiving Communion is a sign of “devoutness” despite the contradictions between professed Catholicism and promoting abortion, same-sex relation ships or other causes.
“Ironically, such Catholic politicians do the very thing that no truly devout Catholic would ever do,” he said. “The very ‘devout’ action they perform, that of receiving Holy Communion, is an enacted declaration that they lack authentic Catholic devotion.”
Fr. Weinandy added “no one is fooled by this charade, except maybe the self-deluded politician.”
“Faithful Catholics know that there is an irreconcilable disconnect between what is being held by such Catholic politicians and their receiving Communion. And they see that it’s the dissenting Catholic politician who is politicizing the Eucharist,” he said.
He suggested that politicians seek to benefit from being religious and also by “holding and promoting non-Catholic policies.”
“Of course, these stances are contradictory, but then politicians are not known for consistency,” said Fr. Weinandy.
He acknowledged that for a Catholic leader who promotes matters contrary to the Catholic faith, there may still be a deep and inerasable belief in Christ and the Catholic Church.
“Thus, one claims to be a devout Catholic and receives Communion in the hope that, somehow, someday, it will all work out. This comes dangerously close to a sentimental ‘Catholic’ superstition – which is the most charitable interpretation of why dissident Catholic politicians insist on receiving Holy Communion,” said Weinandy.
He encouraged Catholics to pray for the conversions of Catholic politicians and also for God’s protection of his Church.
Fr. Weinandy also summarized an exchange between Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago. Archbishop Aquila, writing in America Magazine last month, said that those who receive Holy Communion, including politicians, must adhere to Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching. Otherwise, they would go against St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians that whoever eats and drinks unworthily will be “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord'' and bring “judgment upon himself.”
For his part, Cardinal Cupich suggested that Archbishop Aquila’s essay violated Catholic sacramental principles like the idea that the sacraments are based on the power of God, and cannot be diminished by either the celebrant or recipient. Archbishop Aquila, citing authorities like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, responded in Catholic World Report that the benefit of the sacrament of the Eucharist depends on the subjective disposition of the person receiving it.
Fr. Weinandy said Cardinal Cupich’s critique was “in no way relevant to what Archbishop Aquila wrote” but allowed Archbishop Aquila to clarify any ambiguity and “develop his point even more strongly.”
Fr. Weinandy previously served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine. He resigned his position as a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in 2017 after he published a letter to Pope Francis asking him to correct the “chronic fusion” of his pontificate, which Fr. Weinandy said “fosters within the faithful a growing unease.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix have both issued recent documents that discuss the importance of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Bishop McElroy of San Diego wrote an essay in America Magazine arguing that refusing Holy Communion to pro-abortion rights politicians is an act that politicizes the Eucharist.
Posted on 05/7/2021 18:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 13:10 pm (CNA).
The head of a national abortion advocacy group on Friday claimed that the group worked to have the pro-life group LifeSiteNews banned permanently from Facebook.
Ilyse Hogue, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), stated on Twitter on Friday afternoon that her group worked with pro-LGBT groups to document “COVID disinformation” by LifeSiteNews and to share it with the social media platform Facebook.
Hogue said her group worked with the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, along with the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.
On May 4, Facebook permanently banned the outlet LifeSiteNews from its platform, Media Matters reported, for violating its policies on COVID-19 and vaccines.
“Big news: Facebook deplatformed LifeSiteNews this week for gross distribution of COVID disinformation,” Hogue tweeted. “This didn't happen because of their good will. @NARAL @mmfa @HRC @glaad worked to document these transgressions and share them with Facebook.”
Neither Facebook nor NARAL immediately responded to a request for comment by CNA.
In a joint statement on Friday, Media Matters, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and NARAL said they compiled “more than 100 posts” by LifeSite that allegedly violated Facebook’s policies on COVID-19 and vaccine disinformation.
They decried “hate speech” by LifeSite on issues of life and sexuality.
“Despite Facebook’s community standards and hate speech policy that supposedly protect LGBTQ people and others against the flagrant spread of misinformation, LifeSiteNews has relied on Facebook to push its noxious anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice extremism to an audience of millions,” the groups stated.
Hogue said on Friday that “we'll take the win” for LifeSite’s removal from Facebook, and called on other platforms to ban LifeSite for “some of the most toxic disinformation out there.”
She added that Facebook should have deplatformed LifeSite for other content, such as “white supremacist content, anti-LGBTQ content, and a boatload of abortion disinformation, all of which has led to immeasurable damage in people's lives.”
LifeSiteNews is not an officially Catholic publication. It grew out of the Canada-based Campaign Life Coalition and now has separate organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
LifeSiteNews has already been removed from the platforms Twitter and YouTube. It was banned from Twitter for reporting that a Canadian transgender activist was biologically male but identified as a woman.
Google, the owner of YouTube, said it removed LifeSite for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy, including for “content that promotes prevention methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO.” The group’s channel had reached more than 300,000 subscribers, with an average of over 50,000 views on its main show and more than 2 million viewers on some shows.
On its COVID-19 and vaccines policy page, Facebook states, “We remove claims that deny the existence of the disease or undermine the severity of COVID-19.” It also says it removes “false claims about how and where COVID-19 can be transmitted and who can be infected.”
Facebook states that “Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts may be removed if they have shared content that violates our COVID-19 and vaccine policies and are also dedicated to sharing other vaccine discouraging information on the platform.”
LifeSiteNews has previously published opinion and commentary that has questioned the gravity of the pandemic and the morality of COVID-19 vaccines.
In December, LifeSiteNews said YouTube deleted its video “in which a prominent Canadian physician protested the ‘unfounded public hysteria’ over COVID-19.”
A Dec. 2 factcheck by the Associated Press said that Hodkinson, the “physician” in the video, was never chairman of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada Examination Committee in Pathology, as had been claimed.
In that video, Hodkinson claimed “masks were utterly useless,” with “no evidence” for their effectiveness. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of masks, citing multiple studies.
Posted on 05/7/2021 17:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., May 7, 2021 / 12:10 pm (CNA).
The bishop of Phoenix this week supported a recent letter from the archbishop of San Francisco stating that Catholics cooperating with abortion should not present themselves for Communion.
“Woe to us bishops if we do not speak clearly about the grave evil of abortion, and the consequences of any Catholic who participates in the act or publicly supports it by word or action,” Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said in a May 6 statement.
He responded to a May 1 letter by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on “the Human Dignity of the Unborn, Holy Communion, and Catholics in Public Life.” Olmsted called it “a powerful defense of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of all human life.”
Referring to bishops who do not clearly denounce the evil of abortion and of Catholics supporting it, Olmsted condemned “a false patience and pastoral concern that, year after year, stays silent or speaks in abstractions while the slaughter continues with the full endorsement of Catholic politicians under our spiritual care as bishops.”
The bishop warned that reluctance to speak out in such cases is a pastoral failure, rather than a charitable politeness.
“Such ‘patience’ is false because it is bereft of love and truth, and thus unmasks rather a deadly apathy towards one who professes the Catholic faith but whose public embrace of abortion puts his or her eternal soul at risk of damnation, and risks dragging untold numbers into hell by their example,” he said.
Archbishop Cordileone wrote in a May 1 pastoral letter that any Catholic cooperating with the evil of abortion should refrain from receiving the Eucharist. In his letter, he included a section on Catholic public officials who advocate for abortion.
“You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing,” Cordileone wrote, addressing those politicians. “Please stop the killing.”
“And please stop pretending that advocating for or practicing a grave moral evil – one that snuffs out an innocent human life, one that denies a fundamental human right – is somehow compatible with the Catholic faith. It is not. Please return home to the fullness of your Catholic faith,” he wrote.
The topic of Holy Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians has become especially relevant with the election of Joe Biden, the first Catholic U.S. president in six decades.
Biden has publicly advocated for protection of legal abortion, including the codification of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide. Biden has also supported taxpayer funding of elective abortions, and has taken action as president to allow for taxpayer funding of pro-abortion groups in the United States and abroad.
The bishops of the United States (USCCB) may address the topic of “Eucharistic coherence” at their spring meeting in June. However, if a document is presented on the matter, it will reportedly address the Church’s teaching on general worthiness to receive Communion, and will not be a specific push to deny Biden Communion.
A source close to the USCCB told CNA on April 29 that at the June meeting, the bishops’ doctrine committee might present a “broad document” on general worthiness for reception of Communion; alternatively, the bishops might wait until their fall meeting in November to vote to consider such a document.
In his own apostolic letter from early April, Olmsted wrote that Catholic teaching sees the Eucharist as Christ’s transformative sacrifice on the cross, and that Holy Communion must only be received worthily. The Church teaches that to receive Communion, baptized Catholics must not be conscious of having committed serious sin since their last confession.
This teaching is not “partisan,” Olmsted wrote, adding that it certainly applies to political leaders who back evils such as abortion and euthanasia.
“Holy Communion is reserved for those, who with God’s grace make a sincere effort to live this union with Christ and His Church by adhering to all that the Catholic Church believes and proclaims to be revealed by God,” Bishop Olmsted wrote, explaining that Church teaching on this has “always been clear and based on Scripture.”
This is why the Church “requires Catholic leaders who have publicly supported gravely immoral laws such as abortion and euthanasia to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they publicly repent and receive the Sacrament of Penance,” he said.
Olmsted recommended that all Catholics read Cordileone’s letter, as well as “all people of good will who desire to know why the Church cannot and will not change her traditional defense of motherhood and the most vulnerable in the womb.”
The bishop also recommended that the faithful read a recent article on the matter penned by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila.
“When the church minimizes the danger of an unworthy reception of the Eucharist, she fails to properly love those who continue to jeopardize their souls,” Archbishop Aquila wrote in his April 14 article published in America magazine.
“Trading ‘civility’ and ‘engagement’ for eternal life is not a good trade, and it is especially negligent for me, as a bishop, to remain quiet when people I am called to love may be endangering their eternal souls. This is a danger to them and a danger to me,” he wrote.
Individual bishops have spoken and written on the topic of “Eucharistic coherence” in recent months.
In March, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois told a regional conference of the Canon Law Society of America that Catholics who publicly and obstinately advocate for abortion, including politicians, can and should be denied Communion under canon law.
“I'm talking about their external actions. If they're living in a way or holding positions that are contrary to church teaching, then the Minister of Communion has to deny them the sacrament,” Paprocki said.
During his homily at the Vigil Mass for Life in January, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas taught that Catholics should not receive Communion if they are contradicting “fundamental” Church teaching.
However, both Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. and Bishop William Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware - Biden’s home diocese - have said in the past that they would not deny Communion to a politician who consistently works toward permissive abortion laws or policies.
Msgr. William Koenig was chosen last month as the new bishop of Wilmington, with his episcopal ordination scheduled for July 13.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego also said at a February online dialogue that denying Communion to obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians would be interpreted as “a weaponization of the Eucharist.” He said that bishops teaching about “Eucharistic coherence” in the Biden presidency was not a “good idea.”