Catholic World News News Feature
US bishop imposed interdict on pro-abortion politician September 29, 2004
A Texas bishop has revealed that he once barred a Catholic politician from the sacraments because of the legislator's outspoken support for legal abortion.
In an essay that will appear in the October 2004 issue of Catholic World Report, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida argues that bishops have a solemn duty to rebuke public sinners, including those who persistently violate Church teachings regarding the sanctity of life.
Bishop Gracida goes on to say that while he headed the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, he imposed the canonical penalty of interdiction on a politician who repeatedly stated his support for legal abortion. Although he does not name the politician, Bishop Gracida-- who is now retired from the Corpus Christi diocese-- does say that the individual died while still under the interdict, barred from receiving Communion or the last rites.
The revelation by Bishop Gracida adds a new dimension to a heated debate among American bishops over possible disciplinary action against public officials who support abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, and same-sex unions-- in violation of clear Church teachings. Although several bishops have announced that politicians who take these stands should not be admitted to Holy Communion, Bishop Gracida is the first American prelate to announce that he has imposed a formal canonical penalty on a dissident Catholic politician.
The full text of Bishop Gracida's essay is now available as the featured article on the Catholic World Report site.