LINCOLN, Nebraska, April 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Though not “formally excommunicated,” Catholic politicians who support Planned Parenthood or other measures facilitating abortion are “placing themselves outside of the pale of the Church’s doctrine” and should be denied Communion, says Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.
The bishop told LifeSiteNews that Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, should be seen an enemy of the Catholic Church because “it advocates doctrines, immoral activities which are contrary to ... the teachings of Almighty God.”
In 1996, Bishop Bruskewitz announced that any Catholics in his diocese who persisted as members of Planned Parenthood would be excommunicated automatically. The decision was upheld by the Vatican in 2006.
“Membership in Planned Parenthood [is] incompatible with being a Catholic living a clear adherence to the Catholic faith,” he insisted.
Last week, American Life League (ALL) called for the excommunication of the 62 Catholic congressmen who voted in February against defunding Planned Parenthood. The group pointed out that the Catholic Church has a history of excommunicating those who support its greatest enemies, including supporters of Freemasonry, Nazism, and communism.
Bishop Bruskewitz said the excommunication in his diocese applies to members of the abortion giant, not legislators or others supporting it. He said it “could be” that excommunication is warranted for such legislators, but that that issue has not come up in his diocese. “Individual bishops can only make legislation for their own diocese,” he explained.
The bishop’s comment was backed up by Dr. Edward Peters, a canon lawyer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and a consultant to the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, who told LifeSiteNews this week that excommunication of politicians supporting Planned Parenthood could only happen if individual bishops or the national conference of bishops institute a specific law or penalty to that effect. Peters said, however, that bishops can act now by denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians under canon 915.
Bishop Bruskewitz himself emphasized that in his diocese those publicly supporting abortion would be denied Communion. “In this diocese, the priests and everyone who distributes Holy Communion would be instructed not to give Holy Communion to such people,” he said.
“We are trying, as we interpret it, to obey the canons of the Catholic Church, which say that someone who is a notorious public sinner shouldn’t be admitted to Holy Communion,” he explained. “That’s simply the case.”
Advocates for abortion or euthanasia are “placing themselves in a position where they are not to receive Holy Communion because they’ve defected from the Church’s faith,” he added.
Regarding excommunication, the bishop said its purpose is “to bring people who are Catholics to realize the error of their ways, and to repent and to return to the correct measure of obedience that’s expected of a disciple of Christ.”
He said it’s inaccurate to suggest excommunication lacks compassion or shuts down dialogue. Dialogue is “important,” he said, but it “must have an exit” and is “not just simply talking interminably.”
Explaining the manifold reasons why Catholics cannot support Planned Parenthood, the bishop said, “It advocates contraception. ... In its origins, from Margaret Sanger, it concentrates on racism. It believes certain races are inferior. It has certainly a eugenic aspect to it – extermination of people who are considered unfit to live, a la Nazis. And of course abortion is an abominable crime. The Second Vatican Council is very clear about that. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion supplier, business, and purveyor, in the United States.”