Catholic World News News Feature
Cardinal Arinze comments on Kerry-Communion debate April 23, 2004
During an April 23 press conference in Rome, at which he discussed the liturgical norms set out in the new Vatican document Redemptoris Sacramentum , Cardinal Francis Arinze said that a priest has the right to refuse the Eucharist to a public figure who rejects Church teachings.
Cardinal Arinze made that statement in response to a question from an American reporter, who posed the case of a Catholic political leader who supports legal abortion. Asked whether a priest could deny the Eucharist in that case, Cardinal Arinze answered, "Yes." The cardinal went on to say that there could be reasons for a priest not to take that step: if he were caught off guard, or if he were not informed about the politician's stand.
Although neither the reporter nor the cardinal mentioned any specific names, the question was obviously prompted by the public debate in the US over the status of John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, who is a Catholic and an supporter of unrestricted legal abortion.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington recently suggested that he would not deny the Eucharist to Kerry. Cardinal McCarrick heads a special committee set up by the US bishops' conference to suggest how Church leaders should respond to Catholics who oppose Church teachings in the political arena.