PORTSMOUTH, England, March 26, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A UK bishop is not backing down after incensing some Catholic MPs in Britain when he said political proponents of abortion and same-sex “marriage” should not present themselves to receive Communion.
“My basic point was a simple one: that those who do not believe in and/or do not practice the main doctrines of our Catholic faith should not go forward to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church. They are not in communion with the Catholic Church,” said Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan to LifeSiteNews.
“Politicians have many complex decisions to take, but surely, if they are disciples of Christ, they should have the freedom to follow their conscience, despite pressures from party whips and powerful campaign groups?” he asked.
In an interview earlier this month with LifeSiteNews Egan called it an “act of mercy” to deny Communion to anti-life-and-family politicians in that it would “encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost.”
Egan’s statements reflect those of American Cardinal Raymond Burke who recently called a priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion to a publicly dissenting Catholic politician a “prime act of pastoral charity,” since it helps the person in question to “avoid sacrilege and safeguard[s] the other faithful from scandal.”
But a few Catholic MPs who support legal abortion and same-sex “marriage” called Egan’s statements “a tragedy,” saying that ordinary Catholics would be “appalled,” reported The Tablet.
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“I think it is a great pity, indeed a tragedy, that this bishop appears not to have noticed that we have a new gentle shepherd preaching a Christ-like message of inclusivity, love, tolerance and forgiveness,” said Conor Burns, a Conservative MP who voted for same-sex “marriage” legislation that came into effect this month. Burns’ Bournemouth West seat lies in Bishop Egan’s diocese.
“I look to the guidance of the Holy Father Pope Francis,” Burns said.
In his follow-up comments to LifeSiteNews, Egan made it clear that a Catholic MP cannot faithfully serve two masters.
“Those who do not accept the Catholic Church’s principle teachings on the value of life – as expressed in her teaching on abortion, on marriage and family life, on euthanasia, on eugenics and on assisted suicide – the main tenets of Christian anthropology – are rejecting Christ’s vision for the human person, whom he redeemed on the Cross.”
“Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, assisted suicide gravely degrade and undermine respect for the dignity and value of human life,” he said.
Egan believes Catholic politicians should bring their faith perspective into public life. He partially blamed the “privatisation of religion” in society for what he called “nihilism, a lack of meaning and purpose in life, and the erosion of ethics.”
“Our Catholic faith is a corrective to this, offering an alternative vision. We have to stand for a different way of life, the true Way of Christ.”
“We proclaim a different anthropology: Christ the New Adam, the true Type of human being. We believe that every individual is of infinite value and that the natural way of life in Christ leads to true happiness. The Way of Christ is the Way of man, the way of hope. This is what we must witness to,” he said.