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List of US bishops for and against denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians like Biden, Pelosi

The question of Communion to pro-abortion politicians has become a dividing line for U.S. cardinals and bishops
Fri May 21, 2021 - 8:03 am EST
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UNITED STATES, May 21, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Should pro-abortion politicians who say they are Catholic, like President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, be admitted to Holy Communion while attending Mass? The question has become a dividing line for U.S. cardinals and bishops. Some say that such a ban would amount to a “weaponization” or “politicization” of the Eucharist. Many more point out, however,  that such a ban is required by Church teaching and is necessary to protect the sacrament, to avoid scandalizing the faithful, and to call the sinner to repentance.

LifeSiteNews has put together a list of statements of cardinals and bishops who have publicly commented on the matter and who make clear what side of the line they fall on. The lists are ordered chronologically with the most recent statements at the top. LifeSite will add to this list as more information becomes available. Special thanks goes to The Pillar for beginning such a list. 

Bishops who support Church teaching in denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians

Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • May 20, 2021, First Things article: “Persons who do not believe in the Real Presence, who ignore or do not accept Church teaching, or who are otherwise objectively in a state of serious sin, should not present themselves for Communion. It’s that simple and that serious. If they do, they not only put their own souls in grave jeopardy, but—just as grievously—they also violate the rights of Catholics who do seek to live their faith authentically. This Eucharistic discipline, the coherence of Catholic belief and the behavior it requires, is rooted both in Scripture and constant Church practice. It applies to all Catholics, not merely public officials, and it applies all the time and everywhere. There is nothing intentionally “political” about it. Claiming that it weaponizes the Eucharist for political ends is both misleading and, when advanced by anyone in Church leadership, inexcusable.”

Bishop James Wall, Gallup, New Mexico

  • May 18, 2021, First Things article: “Our concern is not political but pastoral; it is for the salvation of souls. This issue has political ramifications, but that is not an excuse to shy away at this crucial moment. […] Back in 1998 our conference named abortion a ‘preeminent threat’ and in 2019 we reaffirmed that the ‘threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself.’ Pro-abortion political leaders have not heeded these calls, and now we seek to apply the last remaining and most severe medicinal option we have: eucharistic sanctions.”

Bishop David Ricken, Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • May 13, 2021 The Compass News article: “I am very grateful for Archbishop Cordileone’s letter because it expresses very concisely and clearly in one document what has been on my heart and mind. His words are what I have tried to convey in my preaching and teaching on behalf of life over all my years as a bishop, and I strongly encourage you to read his letter. […] When a Catholic assumes a public office, he or she cannot use the excuse that ‘personally I am opposed to abortion, publicly my party allows it.’ These and other similar words are an attempt to hide one’s cooperation in the sin of abortion, just as Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. […] When Catholics in public positions of authority and trust provide active or passive approval, it contradicts the eternal truth that every life is sacred from the moment of conception and gives scandal to the people. Their willingness to deny this truth not only harms the unborn and the women and other family members impacted by an abortion, it puts their own souls in eternal jeopardy. Out of love for them and a desire to see them repent, I must speak up and share the truth!”

Bishop Thomas Tobin, Providence, Rhode Island

  • May 10, 2021, Tweet: “While the CDF letter on the U. S. Bishops study of the reception of Holy Communion offers some guidance, it would also be helpful if the CDF would again remind Catholic politicians that it is morally inadmissible for any Catholic leader to support, promote and fund abortions.”

Bishop Donald Hying, Madison, Wisconsin

  • May 7, 2021, Statement: “Almost fifty years after Roe v. Wade, 66 million lives have been snuffed out at the very beginning of their existence and countless individuals have been spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically damaged by this profound violence; we still have legal abortion in the United States, with many of our national leaders embracing a pro-abortion position, including self-professed Catholics. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, issued a pastoral letter on May 1, entitled, “Before I Formed You in the Womb, I Knew You.” A timely reflection on the moral evil of abortion, the need to challenge political leaders who are pro-abortion — especially those who profess Catholicism — and the linkage between the Eucharist and communion with the Church in her doctrinal and moral teaching, “Before I Formed You in the Womb, I Knew You” invites us to reflect on these important issues and to deepen our commitment to building a culture of life in our country and world.”

Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Phoenix, Arizona

  • May 6, 2021, Statement: “In his Pastoral Letter, “Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone offers a powerful defense of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of all human life, which logically and morally requires a consistent condemnation of abortion. […] I thank Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Aquila, as well as all my brother priests and bishops who voice their loving concern not only for unborn children and their parents, but for those who have been led to believe that they can publicly disagree with the Church on abortion while continuing to claim their Catholic Faith and receive Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, it is an obligation and an act of love to proclaim and point out this truth in charity.”

Bishop Liam Cary, Baker, Oregon

  • May 6, 2021, Statement: “As I prepare to publish my own thoughts on the question, I wish here to endorse the pastoral letter of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and two articles by Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver. […] To be faithful to their office, therefore, bishops must ‘correct Catholics who erroneously . . . promote abortion,” even if that correction leads to “the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord’s Table.’

Bishop James Conley, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • May 5, 2021 Tweet: “Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, released a clear and thorough pastoral letter on the Dignity of the Unborn, Holy Communion and Catholics in Public Life, so important for our times. I encourage you to read it.”

Bishop Robert Vasa, Santa Rosa, California

  • May 4, 2021, Statement: “We have lived with abortion in our country for nearly 50 years. Perhaps our hearts have grown calloused to the moral and physical evil of this denial of humanity. Archbishop Cordileone reminds us that legalized ‘abortion is the axe laid to the roots of the tree of human rights: when our culture encourages the violation of life at its youngest and most vulnerable condition, other ethical norms cannot stand for long.’ I commend the Archbishop for offering encouragement to Catholics in public life who advocate for life. I join him in asking that those who participate in or support this grotesque industry to actually look at the evil that is being done and open their hearts to God converting grace. I, too, call upon those in public life, especially Catholics, to recognize that the killing involved in an abortion is not in any way justifiable or defensible. They cannot support such evil and expect no spiritual consequences. The Archbishop makes it clear that we hate the evil of murder which abortion perpetrates but do not condemn the women or others who have been misled into choosing this evil. Finally, there is a call to all men and women of good will to persevere in respecting and affirming the goodness of every human life, born and unborn.”

Bishop Michael Barber, Oakland, California

  • May 3, 2021, Facebook post: “Archbishop Cordileone has written an excellent pastoral letter stating Christ and the Church’s teaching in defense of human life.  I recommend its careful reading and consideration by all the faithful in our Diocese of Oakland.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample, Portland, Oregon

  • May 3, 2021, Tweet: “Here is a recent pastoral letter by the Archbishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone.  It is well worth a careful read.  An important discussion for our times.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco, California

  • May 1, 2021, Pastoral Letter: Catholic politicians who “reject the teaching of the Church on the sanctity of human life and those who do not seek to live in accordance with that teaching should not receive the Eucharist. It is fundamentally a question of integrity: to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the Catholic liturgy is to espouse publicly the faith and moral teachings of the Catholic Church, and to desire to live accordingly. […] Because we are dealing with public figures and public examples of cooperation in moral evil, this correction can also take the public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion. […] If you find that you are unwilling or unable to abandon your advocacy for abortion, you should not come forward to receive Holy Communion. To publicly affirm the Catholic faith while at the same time publicly rejecting one of its most fundamental teachings is simply dishonest. Heeding this perennial call to conversion is the only way to live the Catholic faith with integrity.”

Bishop John Doerfler, Marquette, Michigan

  • April 28, 2021, Facebook post: “There seems to be confusion these days about the worthy reception of Holy Communion.  In part, that confusion may be due to some Catholic politicians who actively support grave evils such as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, etc., yet claim to be ‘good Catholics.’ A while back, I addressed the question of the worthy reception of Holy Communion in my column in The UP Catholic and a YouTube video.  It seems opportune to refer to that video again.  It applies to all of us, whatever our walk of life:  farmers and factory workers, clergy and lay persons, students and teachers, politicians and private citizens, etc.  We should all strive to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord.  There is no sin too great for the Lord to forgive, yet we must repent of our sin and seek the Lord’s mercy.  If it is a mortal sin, we should go to confession before receiving Holy Communion.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Denver, Colorado

  • April 18, 2021, Catholic World Report article: “When one partakes of the Eucharist, one is stating by one’s very action that one is in communion with Christ and his Church. However, if one is in mortal sin when receiving Communion, one is telling a lie, for, in being in a state of mortal sin, one is neither in communion with Christ nor his Church.”

  • April 14, 2021, America Magazine article: “When the church minimizes the danger of an unworthy reception of the Eucharist, she fails to properly love those who continue to jeopardize their souls. […] I take this responsibility very seriously, which is why I am compelled to address the error that any baptized Catholic can receive Communion if he or she simply desires to do so. None of us have the freedom to approach the altar of the Lord without a proper examination of conscience and proper repentance if grave sin has been committed. The Eucharist is a gift, not an entitlement, and the sanctity of that gift is only diminished by unworthy reception. Because of the public scandal caused, this is especially true in the case of public officials who persistently govern in violation of the natural law, particularly the pre-eminent issues of abortion and euthanasia, the taking of innocent life, as well as other actions that fail to uphold the church's teaching regarding the dignity of life.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Springfield, Illinois

  • March 11, 2021, Canon Law Society of America conference talk: Bishop Paprocki said that Catholic politicians who publicly and obstinately advocate for abortion can and should be denied Communion. “I'm talking about their external actions. If they're living in a way or holding positions that are contrary to church teaching, then the Minister of Communion has to deny them the sacrament.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Kansas City, Kansas, USCCB’s chairman of Committee on Pro-Life Activities

  • Feb. 13, 2021, Catholic World Report interview: “The president should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic, and acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. It would be a more honest approach from him to say he disagreed with his Church on this important issue and that he was acting contrary to Church teaching. When he says he is a devout Catholic, we bishops have the responsibility to correct him. Although people have given this president power and authority, he cannot define what it is to be a Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is. […] I believe the president has the responsibility not to present himself for Holy Communion. When Catholics receive the Eucharist, they are acknowledging the Real Presence of Jesus, and also belief in the teachings of the Church. President Biden doesn’t believe in the Church’s teachings on the Sanctity of Human Life, and he should not put the priest in the situation where he has to decide whether or not to allow him to receive the Eucharist. He should know that after 78 years as a Catholic.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke

  • Sept. 28, 2020, Catholic Action for Faith and Family interview: Joe Biden is “not a Catholic in good standing” because of his support for abortion and, consequently, he “should not approach to receive Holy Communion.”

  • August 8, 2020, Fox News interview:  Pro-abortion Catholic politicians “may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, because they’re not in communion with Christ. It’s not a punishment. Actually, it’s a favor to these people to tell them don’t approach, because if they approach, they commit sacrilege.”

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Cardinals, bishops who back giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians

Bishop Robert McElroy, San Diego, California

  • May 5, 2021, America Magazine: “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. […] A national policy of excluding pro-choice political leaders from the Eucharist will constitute an assault on that unity, on that charity [to which the Church is called by Christ].”

  • Feb.1, 2021, Georgetown University talk: “I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders of Eucharist based on their public policy stance can be interpreted in our society as anything other than the weaponization of Eucharist and an effort not to convince people by argument and by dialogue and by reason, but, rather, to pummel them into submission on the issue.”

Bishop John Stowe, Lexington, Kentucky

  • April 28, 2021, AP News quote: “If a politician is targeted as a negative example by his own church, that sets a sad context in which the church can deal with this Catholic president. It contributes to the polarization of the church and of society.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Chicago, Illinois

  • April 14, 2021 Letter: Cupich raises “a number of concerns” with Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s hard-hitting article explaining why pro-abortion politicians who say they are Catholic cannot receive Holy Communion. “I write as a brother bishop with the suggestion that you consider offering a public clarification of your point,” wrote Cupich.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Washington D.C.

  • Nov. 24, 2020, Catholic News Agency: Noting that Biden went to Mass and received Communion for eight years as vice president, Gregory said that “I’m not going to veer from that. […] “On my part, it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”


  abortion, communion, communion to pro-abortion politicians, holy communion, joe biden, us bishops, usccb

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