Associated Press, August 4, 2004
Communion Barred to Abortion
ATLANTA (AP) -- Roman Catholic bishops in three
Southeastern dioceses said Wednesday they will
deny Communion to lawmakers who consistently
support abortion rights unless the dissenting
politicians publicly recant.
The bishops said in a statement that Catholics
who violate church teaching in policy-making
were ``cooperating in evil in a public manner.''
The banned Catholic lawmakers could resume taking
the sacrament ``only after reconciliation with
the church has occurred, with the knowledge
and consent of the local bishop, and public
disavowal of former support for procured abortion,''
the clerics said.
``There can be no contradiction between the values
bestowed by baptism and the Catholic faith
and the public expression of those values,''
the bishops said.
The announcement by Archbishop John Donoghue
of Atlanta, Bishop Robert Baker of Charleston,
S.C., and Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte,
N.C., brings to four the number of American
bishops who said they would deny the sacrament
outright to defiant politicians.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said in
January he would refuse Communion to Democrat
John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion
rights. However, the three Southern bishops
appeared to go further, by setting up strict
requirements for the prohibition to be lifted.
Baker, in a separate statement to his diocesan
clergy, said parish priests would not be allowed
to decide whether a public figure is worthy
of resuming Communion: ``That determination
is reserved to me personally.''
About a dozen other U.S. bishops have stopped
short of a ban, urging Catholic politicians
who back abortion rights to voluntarily abstain
from taking Communion instead. And another
group of prelates has said the sacrament should
not be used as a sanction.
Their statements, during a tight presidential
race, have left bishops open to accusations
of partisanship and sparked a national debate
over religion and politics.
Kerry is the first Catholic presidential nominee
on a major party ticket since John F. Kennedy
ran in 1960. President Bush is a Methodist
whose position on abortion is more in line
with the church.
The bishops deny they are attempting to influence
voters and say they are concerned only with
preserving core, unequivocal church teachings
on preserving life. Communion affirms a Catholic's
bond with God, and asking a parishioner not
to participate is a harsh punishment in the
Georgia state Rep. Mickey Stephens, a Democrat
who supports abortion rights, denounced the
``I don't think they banned any of those priests
who committed those horrible crimes against
little boys. I don't know why they're singling
out politicians,'' said Stephens, who worships
in the Savannah Diocese and will not be affected
by the Communion ban.
``I'm against abortion, but I don't think the
government has the right to tell a woman what
to do,'' Stephens said. ``I also don't think
the Catholic Church should be getting into
Donoghue's spokeswoman said the archbishop was
not available for comment.
The bishops' decision affects at least 200 churches
in Georgia and the Carolinas
<< Associated Press -- 8/4/04 >>
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