PITTSBURGH, July 25, 2005 ( – According to Francis Cardinal Arinze, the Vatican’s chief over the administration of the sacraments, the denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is a no-brainer. Speaking at a dinner in Pittsburgh over the weekend, Arinze responded with his usual wit to the question, “Should Catholic legislators who support legal abortion ‘be refused’ Communion?”

The Cardinal elicited laughter when he rejoined, “I ask you, do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to find the answer?”

He quipped, “Are there no children from First Communion to whom you can pose the question and receive the answer? You do not need a cardinal to answer that. Because it is a straightforward matter.” In the Catholic Church, children are prepared to receive the Sacrament at the age of approximately seven years.

The Cardinal, moreover, is speaking not from his personal opinion but from the Church’s Code of Canon Law which states, “Those who…obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

Apparently, however, the bishops do need a Vatican Cardinal to tell them. The US and Canadian bishops, with only a handful of exceptions, far from endorsing this requirement of the Church law, have evaded the issue or remained silent. Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, soon to retire, went so far as to withhold from the meeting of the US bishops’ conference, the pertinent section of a letter by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (CDF) in which he said such legislators “must be refused” communion.

Cardinal Arinze is the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, is the third highest authority in the Church matters pertaining to the sacraments, after the Pope and the current head of the CDF. He spoke at a benefit dinner hosted by a lay group, the Apostolate for Family Consecration.

In book-length interview with journalist Peter Seewald, the future Pope Benedict XVI said of bishops whose first instinct is to avoid conflicts, “Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.”

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