San Francisco archbishop: Excommunication a ‘last resort’ for pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Biden
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Politicians who profess to be Catholic while persistently and obdurately promoting abortion merit through their actions a public “correction” for their “public rejection of Catholic teaching” that is not limited to “exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion” but may also include “excommunication,” Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Joseph Cordileone stated in a May 1 pastoral letter.
Cordileone, in his letter titled “A Pastoral Letter on the Human Dignity of the Unborn, Holy Communion, and Catholics in Public Life,” makes the case that Catholic politicians who work to make abortion a “more readily available “choice” are all cooperating with a very serious evil.”
“In the case of public figures who profess to be Catholic and promote abortion, we are not dealing with a sin committed in human weakness or a moral lapse: this is a matter of persistent, obdurate, and public rejection of Catholic teaching,” he wrote while not specifically mentioning President Joe Biden or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both of whom champion abortion while identifying as Catholic.
Cordileone points out that sinful actions have consequences when it comes to receiving the Eucharist.
Catholics 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,” he said. “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.”
The archbishop’s letter comes at a time when U.S. bishops grapple with how to deal with the problem of having a Catholic president who receives Communion while championing positions on life, marriage, and the family that are explicitly contrary to Catholic moral teaching. A number of high-profile Catholic shepherds, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Samuel Aquila, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann have come out publicly defending the position that pro-abortion Catholic politicians must be denied Communion to safeguard the sacrament, to avoid scandal, and to call the sinner to repentance. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is expected to visit the matter at its upcoming June meeting, perhaps in the form of a document on “eucharistic coherence.”
Cordileone made the case in his own pastoral letter for why bishops must intervene when pro-abortion politicians approach to receive Communion.
“But there is another source of scandal that pertains specifically to Catholics in public life: if their participation in the evil of abortion is not addressed forthrightly by their pastors, this can lead Catholics (and others) to assume that the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on the inviolate sanctity of human life is not seriously held,” he wrote.
“Our responsibility to them is to call them to conversion and to warn them that if they do not amend their lives they must answer before the tribunal of God for the innocent blood that has been shed. Our responsibility to the rest of the Catholic community is to assure them that the Church of Jesus Christ does take most seriously her mission to care for ‘the least of these,’ as Our Lord has commanded us, and to correct Catholics who erroneously, and sometimes stubbornly, promote abortion,” he added a little later in his letter.
The archbishop said that the “correction” of a pro-abortion Catholic politician first begins with a “private conversation” between the erring Catholic and his or her parish priest or bishop. If this proves to be fruitless, the next step is a “public form of exclusion from the reception of Holy Communion.”
“When other avenues are exhausted, the only recourse a pastor has left is the public medicine of temporary exclusion from the Lord’s Table. This is a bitter medicine, but the gravity of the evil of abortion can sometimes warrant it,” Cordileone wrote.
He floated excommunication as a “last resort” to bring a public sinner to repentance for his sins and back into full communion with the Church
“Excommunication is a medicine of last resort to help erring Catholics return to the faith,” Cordileone wrote.
The Catholic Church teaches that excommunication, incurred by “certain particularly grave sins,” is the “most severe ecclesiastical penalty.” It “impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Burke last month also suggested excommunication for pro-abortion Catholics in public life who “obstinately and publicly” deny truths of the faith.
Near the end of his letter, Cordileone begged pro-abortion Catholic politicians to heed the “call to conversion.”
“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,” he wrote.
In his conclusion, the Archbishop pleaded with those who hold political power and who claim to be Catholic to use their “prestigious position” to stop the murder of preborn babies.
The “killing must stop,” he wrote.
“Please, please, please: the killing must stop. God has entrusted you with a prestigious position in society. You have the power to affect societal practices and attitudes. Always remember that you will one day have to render an account to God for your stewardship of this trust. You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing. Please stop the killing,” he continued.
“And please stop pretending that advocating for or practicing a grave moral evil — one that snuffs out an innocent human life, one that denies a fundamental human right — is somehow compatible with the Catholic faith. It is not. Please return home to the fullness of your Catholic faith. We await you with open arms to welcome you back,” he added.