Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Archbishop Naumann: No Communion for Governor Sebelius

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 12, 2008

Archbishop Joseph Naumann has instructed Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from receiving communion until she repents for her support of abortion. Though the order was given in August of last year, Archbishop Naumann made the matter public in a column in the diocesan newspaper on May 9th. The public disclosure was prompted by Sebelius’ veto of the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act.

Archbishop Naumann said he had met several times with Governor Sebelius to convince her that her support of abortion was contrary to God’s law. Sebelius, who claims to be a Catholic, had vetoed several other efforts by the Kansas legislature to more effectively regulate abortion, making the State something of a haven for late-term abortions. She has also accepted campaign contributions from George Tiller, described by the Archbishop as “perhaps the most notorious late-term abortionist in the nation”, and she has benefitted from Tiller's political action committee. As Archbishop Naumann put it: “The governor has spoken to me on more than one occasion about her obligation to uphold state and federal laws and court decisions. I have asked her to show a similar sense of obligation to honor divine law and the laws, teaching and legitimate authority within the Church.”

Archbishop Naumann stated that he had hoped through their discussions that the Governor would grow to understand her obligation to take the “necessary moral step” of “repudiating her past actions in support of legalized abortion” so that in the future she “would use her exceptional leadership abilities to develop public policies extending the maximum legal protection possible to the unborn children of Kansas.” Unfortunately, when Archbishop Naumann arrived home after meeting with Benedict XVI in Washington on April 21st, he learned that Governor Sebelius had vetoed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act because, in Sebelius’ words, “ the people of Kansas have asked their elected officials to move beyond legislative debates on issues like abortion.”

Archbishop Naumann had this to say about the veto:

From her veto message, I received the impression the governor considered it a waste of the Legislature’s time to pass a statute that attempts to protect some women by making certain they have the opportunity to be well-informed: 1) about the development of their unborn child; and 2) about abortion alternatives available to them. Evidently, the governor does not approve of legislators devoting energy to protecting children and women by making it possible to enforce existing Kansas laws regulating late-term abortion.

In consequence, Archbishop Naumann made it public that last August, after consulting with the other bishops of Kansas, he had written to Governor Sabelius “requesting that she refrain from presenting herself for reception of the Eucharist until she had acknowledged the error of her past positions, made a worthy sacramental confession and taken the necessary steps for amendment of her life.” The Archbishop said this would have to “include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.” After recently learning that Sebelius had received Communion at one of the parishes in his diocese, he wrote to her again insisting that she “respect my previous request and not require from me any additional pastoral actions.”

Archbishop Naumann has asked the Catholics of Kansas to pray for Governor Sebelius, and I hope that they will also pray for their bishop. It is now necessary to enforce the matter on the parish level in the hope, as Archbishop Naumann has expressed it, that this will cause Governor Sabelius “to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions.”

See the complete text of Archbishop Naumann’s statement.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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