(Editor’s note: One day after the publication of this story Cardinal Maradiaga corrected himself reaffirming the Pope’s stand see here for the update)

By John-Henry Westen

  HONDURAS, May 17, 2007 ( – In an interview with Time magazine, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, has contradicted Pope Benedict XXVI on the issue of Holy Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

  Speaking in response to reporters in the plane en route to Brazil last week, Pope Benedict XVI supported the actions of the Bishops of Mexico in denying communion to pro-abortion politicians. 

  However commenting on the incident, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga told Time magazine that a bishop may not deny communion to anyone no matter how grave a sinner.

  Cardinal Rodriguez was asked, “Do you agree with bishops who deny giving Holy Communion to the (sic) these (pro-abortion) politicians?”

  He replied, “Who am I to deny Holy Communion to a person? I cannot. It’s in the tradition of moral theology that even if I know a person is living in grave sin, I cannot take a public action against him. It would be giving scandal to the person. Yes, he should not seek [communion], but I cannot deny it from him.”

  The statement directly contradicts both canon law and Pope Benedict’s position as stated just prior to his election to the Pontificate. 

  Canon 915 reads: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

  During the 2004 deliberation among US Bishops on pro-abortion Catholic politicians, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter to the US Bishops to use as a guide.  The letter, entitled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, pointed out that obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians, after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion. 

“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.

  He added significantly, “When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it’.” (see the full document: )

  Strangely, despite his refusal to deny communion to persistent grave sinners, which according to sources in Latin America is a confirmed stand of the Cardinal’s, he nonetheless agrees with excommunication for pro-abortion politicians.

  Asked, “Do you agree with the Pope’s statement that pro-choice Catholic politicians merit excommunication?,” the Cardinal replied, “It is canon law that everyone who works for abortion is excommunicated. It’s not something the Pope invented. If you favor abortion, you are outside the communion of the Church. And it was necessary to say that. There are people in Mexico saying I am Catholic and I support abortion rights. This is a contradiction in its very essence. As a teacher of the Church, the Pope has a responsibility of teaching when something happening is wrong.”

  See the full interview with the Cardinal in Time magazine here:,8599,1620570,00.html