Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 15:30 pm (CNA).
Dozens of Catholic members of Congress issued a statement on Friday claiming that denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is a “weaponization of the Eucharist.”
In a “statement of principles,” 60 House Democrats – led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) – claimed their Catholic faith influences their actions in Congress, and that denial of Communion for their support of legal abortion would be “contradictory.”
“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” they stated, addressing the “Church” in their statement.
“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory,” the lawmakers stated.
Rep. DeLauro, who led the letter, has supported taxpayer-funded of abortion through repealing the Hyde amendment. She chairs the House Appropriations Committee.
Among the other signers of the letter were Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) – a pro-abortion member who unseated pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski in a primary last year – as well as Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), recognized as a member who sometimes votes for pro-life policies but who was not endorsed by Democrats for Life of America in 2020.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who helped lead efforts in Congress to recognize the genocide against Iraqi Christians in 2016, signed the statement, as well as Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who hosted Bishop Robert Barron for a meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol in 2019.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who signed the statement, tweeted at the U.S. bishops on Friday that he supported contraception, abortion, “treatments for infertility,” “the right for people to get a divorce,” and “the right of same sex marriage.”
“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” he stated.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is Catholic and pro-abortion, did not sign the statement. Her local ordinary, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, publicly rebuked her support for abortion in January.
Archbishop Cordileone, in a May 1 pastoral letter on the Eucharist, called on Catholic public officials to oppose abortion.
“You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing,” he said. “Please stop the killing. 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.”
On Friday, Archbishop Cordileone stated, “Our God-given responsibility as bishops is to proclaim the truth as did St. Paul: the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ. We must confess our serious sins and seek reconciliation in the sacrament before presenting ourselves for Holy Communion.”
“I would exhort us all to remember the Eucharistic martyrs who died to protect the Most Blessed Sacrament from profanation,” he added.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2271 states, “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person.”
“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense,” the catechism states.
Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his 2004 letter to then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, referred to a politician’s consistent “campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” as “formal cooperation” in the “grave sin” of abortion
The 60 members pointed to other “policies contrary to the Church teachings,” including support for the death penalty, separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, denial of asylum, and reducing food assistance to the poor.
“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist” for supporting these policies, they stated.
“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” they said.
The members issued their statement as the U.S. bishops met virtually this week for their annual spring general assembly. At their meeting, the bishops debated drafting a document on the Eucharist, which would include a sub-section on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.
In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life.
On Friday, President Joe Biden was asked about being denied Communion by the U.S. bishops – even though their vote this week was on drafting the teaching document, not any national policy of denying Communion.
“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said, according to Anne Thompson of NBC News.
Individual bishops have made statements recently that, according to canon law, Catholic public officials cannot present themselves for Communion when they publicly support permissive laws on grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia.
According to a 2004 instruction by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, pastors and bishops must speak to such public officials in their jurisdictions, informing them that their positions are contrary to Church teaching and instructing them that they are not to receive Communion.
If the officials persist in their positions, then the minister of Communion must not distribute it to them, he said. Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo was an implementation of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.
The members, in Friday’s statement, stated that their faith informs their actions, through “helping the poor, disadvantaged, and the oppressed, protecting the least among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country.”
“We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church’s bearing as it does on ours,” they stated.
Citing the Second Vatican Council’s “renewed emphasis on the Eucharist,” they stated, “To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there.”
The Vatican council’s constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes, states, “Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”
The constitution on sacred liturgy also states that Catholics “should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it [the Eucharist] in vain.”
The constitution Lumen Gentium states, “To the extent that they [believers] neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.”
On the life issue, the members stated their support for promoting “alternatives to abortion.”
“Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term and provide resources to raise healthy and secure children,” they stated.
“We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, improving access to children’s healthcare and child care, and creating a child benefit through the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit.”
This article was updated on June 18 with new information.