By Hilary White

  OTTAWA, February 29, 2008 ( – Given their “stubbornness” in support of legal abortion, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has said that politicians who refuse to change their minds should cease to receive Holy Communion.

  Canadian Catholic News reports that the Archbishop was speaking at a local pub during a “Theology on Tap” event, a popular lecture programme started in Chicago, in which Catholic speakers are invited to speak in an informal setting.

  In his comments, however, the Archbishop did not indicate he is ready to issue a prohibition against pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Communion or that he would actually deny Communion to such a politician.

  Prendergast said he would have to put the best possible interpretation on what the politician was doing and “engage in dialogue” with him. “As I get to know the politicians I will speak to them on these issues and hopefully we’ll be able to make progress”.

  Seeming to echo the approach of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in his 2006 address to the Canadian bishops on the issue, Prendergast continued, that if the attempts to teach fail he would say, “Given your stubbornness on this particular issue, you should not publicly receive the Eucharist until you’ve changed your mind.”

“The bishop is not a policeman,” he said. “He is a father in Christ, a Shepherd of his flock.”

  Prendergast emphasized that the Catholic laity have a role as well. “We all have to live our lives as faithful Christians in politics, in public life, in the schools and in every area of life,” he said.

  Such announcements, while not uncommon from US Catholic bishops, are extremely rare from the leadership of the Canadian Catholic Church.

  Calgary Bishop Fred Henry and over a dozen US bishops, however, have gone the next step, following the direction of Pope Benedict in a 2004 letter to the US bishops while he was still a cardinal heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  In that letter, regarding situations such as those indicated by Archbishop Prendergast where a politician obstinately refuses to stop publicly supporting abortion, Ratzinger directed that “the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone.”

  In April 2004, the Vatican’s leading prelate – second only to the Pope – on the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, declared unequivocally that unambiguously pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion. Cardinal Arinze said such a politician “is not fit” to receive Communion. “If they should not receive, then they should not be given,” he added.

  Arinze also addressed the matter directly in an interview on EWTN.  Asked if pro-abortion politicians should be denied communion, Arinze responded, “The answer is clear. If a person says I am in favour of killing unborn babies . . . then the person turns around and say I want to receive Holy Communion. Do you need any Cardinal from the Vatican to answer that? Simple, ask the children for First Communion, they’ll give you the answer.”

  See related articles:

  Pope Supports Excommunication for Pro-Abortion Politicians – “Incompatible with Receiving Communion”

  Second U.S. Bishop Says Vatican Letter on Pro-Abort Politicians Withheld from Bishops

  Cardinal McCarrick Continues to Conceal Rome’s Insistence that Pro-Abort Politicians Be Denied Communion