Next Archbishop of St. Louis: No Communion for Pro-Abort Politicians

Wed May 20, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Kathleen Gilbert

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, May 20, 2009 ( - As he prepares to take the helm of the St. Louis diocese, a position formerly held by Archbishop Raymond Burke before he was transferred to the Vatican, Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson has said he agrees with his predecessor’s take on Church law, specifically that pro-abortion Catholic politicians must be denied Communion if they refuse to repent.

The St. Louis Dispatch Sunday interviewed Carlson, the current bishop of Saginaw, MI, who will be installed as St. Louis’ archbishop June 10. They asked: "Do you believe Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, and who persist in doing so even after consultation with their bishop, should be denied the Eucharist if they approach to receive it?"

Carlson answered: "If I were to enter into dialogue with somebody, and after they reflect on the discussion and that person persisted, it could come to that point."

The Saginaw bishop said Archbishop Burke, who is now the head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, "has combined in an interesting way [canon law], and I think he does it correctly."

In February, Burke told that "there’s not a question" whether a publicly pro-abortion politician could be admitted to Communion.  According to Canon 915, "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

"The Church’s law is very clear," Burke said.  "The person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion, and it [canon law] doesn’t say that the bishop shall decide this. It’s an absolute."

Carlson noted that Burke is "not just speaking anymore as the archbishop of St. Louis, he is the prefect of the Signatura."

"It appears that’s the direction the church consensus is moving towards," said Carlson.  "Could we get into that situation? Yes. But at least in my own time in St. Louis, I’d like to have a crack at the dialogue first."

Questions surrounding Church law on the matter were recently stirred by remarks given by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who said earlier this month that he would not deny Communion to the steadfastly pro-abortion House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Wuerl said his policy stemmed from an unwillingness to wield Communion as a "weapon."  (

See related coverage:

Canon Law Prof Confronts DC Archbishop Wuerl on Refusal to Deny Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians

Archbishop Wuerl Refuses to Deny Communion to Pro-Abortion Speaker Pelosi

Vatican Official: Bishops Have no Choice But to Refuse Communion to Pro-Abort Politicians

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles

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