Catholic Bishops Issue Policy on Pro-Choice Politicians

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted and approved with a vote of 183-6 a statement that Catholic politicians are obligated to speak out against legalized abortion. The statement also said the decision to deny communion to politicians who do support reproductive rights should be left up to local bishops. Bishop Michael Sheridan from Colorado went as far as to say that communion should also be denied to Catholics who vote for any politician who supports not only reproductive rights, but also same-sex marriage, stem cell research, or euthanasia, according to the LA Times. Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said in a press statement, “Those few bishops who have chosen to use communion as a weapon in America’s abortion war have disregarded the long-standing Catholic principles of political freedom and freedom of conscience É Simultaneously, they are also ignoring the backlash that is likely to occur when they engage in clearly partisan activities.” Many bishops have already said that they would not refuse communion to a politician, as they do not wish to “make the Eucharist a pawn of politics,” according to the New York Times. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, DC expressed reservations about the policy of refusing communion to pro-choice politicians, telling the Catholic News Service that such battles “should be fought not at the Communion rail but in the public square.” The day after the bishops’ conference a Catholic voter mobilization effort was launched in Massachusetts specifically aimed at issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Raymond Flynn, former mayor of Boston, is heading the initiative. The Boston Globe reports that Flynn is urging Catholics not to lose heart because of the clergy sex abuse scandal, nor be swayed by critics who see his efforts as a blur between the separation of church and state. DONATE to protect the right to a safe, legal abortion


Los Angeles Times, 6/19/04; Catholic News Service, 6/23/04; New York Times, 6/19/04; Denver Post, 6/20/04; Boston Globe, 6/20/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 6/21/04, 6/22/04, 6/24/04; CFFC release 6/17/04

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