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52 pro-life leaders worldwide call on bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians

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VATICAN CITY, May 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - At the first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City today, fifty-two pro-life leaders from sixteen nations called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians in a spirit of love and mercy.

The leaders signed a declaration noting that it is out of concern, and indeed love, for those same politicians that the pro-life leaders ask for this wake-up call to invite pro-abortion politicians back to authentic faith.

For the full list of signatories, click here.

Led by the organizers and sponsors of the 1st Rome Life Forum - LifeSiteNews, Human Life International, Family Life International New Zealand and the organizers of the Rome March for Life - the leaders of 36 pro-life groups from all over the world called on the world’s bishops to honour Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law. The canon states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

The declaration also recalls the words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his intervention with the bishops of the United States, called "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion." Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that a Catholic politician who votes for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws "must" be denied Communion after being duly instructed and warned.

Leaders signing the declaration came from the USA, Spain, Italy, Canada, Romania, Croatia, St. Lucia, New Zealand, France, the UK, Poland, Belgium, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Malta, and Estonia.

Speaking at the public portion of the Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, reflected on "the grave scandal caused by legislators, judges, and political leaders who profess to be Catholic and who present themselves to receive Holy Communion, while, at the same time, they uphold and even promote laws which violate the moral law in its most fundamental tenets."  Cardinal Burke recalled, "The Church’s discipline, from the time of Saint Paul, has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion." 

"The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin," he said. "It prevents them from committing sacrilege by violating the incomparable sanctity of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and safeguards the Christian community and the community at large from scandal, that is, from being led to believe that the violation of the moral law, for example in what pertains to the inviolable dignity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the freedom of conscience, is not sinful, does not gravely break communion with Our Lord."

For the full list of signatories, click here.

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The full text of the declaration follows:

We, Pro-Life Leaders, Call on the Bishops of the World to Extend Mercy to the Church’s Pro-Abortion Politicians

WHEREAS Saint Paul wrote in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:29);

WHEREAS Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”;

WHEREAS Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a 2004 letter to the US bishops, called "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion", that a Catholic politician who votes for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws "must" be denied Communion after being duly instructed and warned;

WHEREAS Catholic politicians who support abortion are already in grave sin, and in receiving Holy Communion their sin is compounded by sacrilege;

WHEREAS by being given Holy Communion such Catholic politicians may well believe that they are spiritually healthy and thus not in need of any remedy;

WHEREAS distributing Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians causes scandal to the rest of the faithful in that they come to believe that support for abortion is not too serious a sin, and thus undermines pro-life work;

WHEREAS being refused Holy Communion is an effective wake-up call to return to an authentic life of faith;

WHEREAS it is unmerciful to allow our brothers living in obstinate public sin to languish there without warning;

We the undersigned ask the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.

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