WelCom October 2021
The debate about denying Communion to politicians who support abortion must be handled in a pastoral way, not by public condemnations that seek to ‘excommunicate’ Catholics who are not in line with church teaching, Pope Francis has said.
During his return flight from Slovakia in September, the Pope said that while there is no question that ‘abortion is homicide’, bishops must take a pastoral approach rather than wade into the political sphere.
‘If we look at the history of the Church, we can see that every time bishops did not act like shepherds when dealing with a problem, they aligned themselves with political life, on political problems,’ he said.
The Pope told journalists that when defending a principle, some bishops act in a way ‘that is not pastoral’ and ‘enter the political sphere.’
‘And what should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd. Not go around condemning,’ the Pope added. ‘They must be a shepherd, in God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness.’
The Pope said he preferred not to comment directly on the issue of denying Communion in the United States, ‘because I do not know the details; I am speaking of the principle’ of the matter.
Seventy five percent of US bishops recently approved the drafting of a document on eucharistic coherence. During long discussions on the document, several bishops specifically pointed to President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who are Catholic, for not actively seeking to end legal abortion, and they said such politicians should be denied Communion.
When asked if he had ever publicly denied Communion to someone, Pope Francis emphatically said, ‘No, I have never denied the Eucharist to anyone; to anyone! I don’t know if someone came to me under these conditions, but I have never refused them the Eucharist, since the time I was a priest.’
But, he added, ‘I was never aware of anyone in front of me under those conditions that you mentioned.’
Source: Catholic News Service