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March 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest was punished in late 2019 for denying liberal Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska Holy Communion over her support of legal abortion, an Alaska radio host has revealed.

KENI morning host Dan Fagan wrote that, early last week, he received a call from a man claiming that a priest had denied Murkowski Communion, and that as punishment the Archdiocese of Anchorage transferred him to a different church in a much smaller community.

Fagan said that the Anchorage Archdiocese, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Soldotna, and Murkowski’s D.C. office all refused multiple requests for comment, so he published a clip of the call online, and “that’s when the flood gates opened. It turns out the incident in question not only happened, but it was common knowledge among many Anchorage Catholics.”

Citing “reliable sources who asked to remain anonymous,” Fagan said that in December 2019, Fr. Robert Whitney was saying Mass as a visiting priest in Our Lady of the Snows in Girdwood, which Murkowski attended. When the senator approached him to receive Communion, Whitney “instead said a blessing over the senator. Murkowski did not make a scene and went back to her seat.”

Fagan said the incident so angered the “leftist” Anchorage-Juneau Archbishop Andrew Bellisario that he moved Whitney “out of the much larger St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Anchorage to the much smaller Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Soldotna.”

Murkowski, who has the full support of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, supports legal abortion, Roe v. Wade, embryo-killing research, and taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. She also helped derail efforts to repeal Obamacare, and was the only Republican to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has argued that it “give[s] scandal” for pro-abortion politicians to receive Communion by “creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional.”

“This is a matter of bishops’ unique responsibility before the Lord for the integrity of the sacraments,” he stressed. “Moreover, there is also the pressing matter of pastoral concern for a man’s salvation. At minimum, every bishop has the duty of privately discussing these vital moral issues and the destructive effect of receiving Communion unworthily with public figures who act contrary to Church teaching. Reception of Communion is not a right but a gift and privilege; and on the subject of ‘rights,’ the believing community has a priority right to the integrity of its belief and practice.”

Chaput granted that it is “not always wise or the best pastoral course” to publicly deny Communion to politicians, particularly in a “loud and forceful manner,” but recalls that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith laid out a proper course for handling such cases in 2004: Priests are to first privately tell a wayward congregant not to present themselves for Communion until they resolve the sin in question, and if the congregant refuses to do so and presents himself for Communion anyway, the priest must refuse him.

Despite these longstanding principles, Communion for many pro-abortion politicians, such as President Joe Biden, has been allowed to continue in the United States. Most prominently, D.C. Archbishop Cardinal Wilton Gregory said he wouldn’t refuse Communion to Biden.

Fagan expressed hope that Whitney’s stand may inspire other priests to push against the tide.

“Conservative Catholics have been feeling like exiles in their own church under Pope Francis,” he wrote. “It’s rare [that] priests like Whitney have the courage to stand up to church hierarchy.”

“Hopefully, Whitney’s unusual courage will motive other priests who believe strongly in the sanctity of life to stand up to Leftist church leadership and withhold communion from other politicians advancing the genocide that is American abortion,” Fagan said.