WASHINGTON, June 21, 2004 ( – The United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has adopted a statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” by a vote of 183-6, which says pro-abortion politicians should not be honored by Catholic community and Catholic institutions.“They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” says the statement. On the question of withholding Communion from pro-abortion politicians, the document leaves the final decision to local bishops.Â

The statement came after the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians made an extensive interim report at the USCCB’s special assembly, held in Denver, June 14-19, 2004.

Speaking on the evil of abortion and that of cooperating in it by supporting pro-abortion legislation, the statement says: “It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified . . . To make such intrinsically evil actions legal is itself wrong . . . The legal system as such can be said to cooperate in evil when it fails to protect the lives of those who have no protection except the law.”

Thus the document sets out the duty of lawmakers.“Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”

The document also outlines the duty of bishops in this regard. “Our obligation as bishops at this time is to teach clearly. It is with pastoral solicitude for everyone involved in the political process that we will also counsel Catholic public officials that their acting consistently to support abortion on demand risks making them cooperators in evil in a public manner. We will persist in this duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.”

The document recalls that all “Catholics need to act in support of these principles and policies in public life.” In it the bishops commit to “encourage this vocation and do more to bring all believers to this mission.”

See the full document online