Washington’s Cardinal Equivocates on Communion for Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians

ROME, April 28, 2004 ( - The Catholic Church’s highest authority on matters pertaining to its sacraments stated recently that Catholic politicians who support abortion may not receive the Eucharist when they attend Mass. At a press conference April 23, Francis, Cardinal Arinze, the prefect for the congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments said that a politician such as John Kerry “is not fit” to receive communion…If they should not receive, then they should not be given.”

In the Catholic Church, it is not possible to receive communion unless it is given by a priest or person delegated by the priest. Washington’s Archbishop, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick has just said in an interview in Rome with the Catholic News Service that the prohibition against a person receiving communion is not necessarily the same as an instruction to deny communion. He said, “I think the canons (church law) sort of remind us that we have to tell our people that if they are not in communion with the Church, they should not go and receive communion. But that doesn’t say to us that we should deny them communion when they come.” McCarrick is in Rome for the regular meetings of the US bishops with Church authorities, including Arinze.  McCarrick also refused to name Kerry specifically, with whom he has recently met privately. “To the best of my knowledge, no one is talking about anyone in particular. And certainly in the United States we’re not talking about anyone in particular.”  McCarrick was recently appointed as head of a task force that is studying the issue of Catholic politicians who support abortion and other issues problematic for Catholics such as homosexual marriage. Despite the clear ruling on the issue from the highest authorities in the Church, the US bishops have yet to make a clear, united statement on the reception of communion by pro-abortion legislators. Some, such as Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis have been forceful in their condemnation. Burke gave instructions to the priests of his diocese to refuse Kerry communion if he should appear for Mass. However Kerry’s own bishop, the highly regarded Archbishop O’Malley of Boston, has so far remained silent on the issue despite Kerry’s very public reception of communion at the Paulist Center parish on Easter Sunday.

Kerry’s campaign spokesmen have said that he is deliberately trying to create a confrontation in which he would be publicly refused communion.

Catholic News Service on McCarrick’s comments: coverage of Arinze’s comments:

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