ORLANDO, May 18, 2004 ( – Another US bishop has stepped up to the front lines of the battle in the US Catholic Church over the reception of communion by pro-abortion, dissenting Catholics. The coadjutor bishop of Orlando Florida, Thomas Wenski, has published a pastoral statement in which he calls pro-abortion Catholics who demand to receive communion “boorish and sacrilegious.” He suggests that they are in a worse moral position than Pontius Pilate after his condemnation of Christ.

The bishop was appointed to Orlando less than a year ago and has already contributed powerful homilies in defense of the unborn on March 14, Respect Life Sunday at the annual Red Mass for public officials. In his most recent statement, published and posted to the diocesan website on May 3, the bishop identifies only three logical possibilities to explain the insistence of some Catholics on receiving communion while refusing to adhere to the teachings of their church. He writes, “Invincible ignorance, culpable willfulness, or ingrained habits of sin might explain why a self-described ‘practicing Catholic’ might dissent from one or more of the definitive teachings of the Church…”

It is extremely rare for Catholic bishops to criticize each other in public. However, bishop Wenski in his statement made a not very veiled reference to the reaction of some US bishops, such as Washington’s Cardinal McCarrick and Los Angeles’ Cardinal Mahoney, who have said that sanctions and public rebukes may ultimately harm the pro-life cause.

Bishop Wenski compares the failure to chastise pro-abortion politicians with the failure of the bishops in general to protect young people from predatory homosexuals in the priesthood. He writes, “But to fail to rebuke when necessary is to fail in the charity we owe our brethren. (And we bishops will be apologizing for a long time for the failure to rebuke and apply sanctions to those wayward priests who criminally sinned against young people and children.)”

He replies also to the accusations that politics is not the proper realm for churchmen, a criticism often accompanied by polemics about “separation of Church and State.”“It is totally within our competence to say that one cannot be complicit in the injustice of denying the right to life of an unborn child or an invalid elder and still consider oneself a good Catholic,” the bishop writes.

To read Bishop Wenski’s full statement:


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