Catholic Culture Overview
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Pope speaks on Communion for pro-abortion politicians

September 15, 2021

Pope Francis insisted that “abortion is murder,” but cautioned against disciplining politicians who support the practice, in an airplane exchange with reporters who accompanied him on his flight home from Slovakia on September 15.

The Pope stopped short of resolving the question—currently a heated debate among American bishops—of whether a Catholic politician who supports legalized abortion should be denied the Eucharist. “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone,” he said, but then added: “I have never been conscious of having a person like the one you describe in front of me.”

Explaining his reluctance to support Eucharistic discipline, the Pope said that across the history of the Church, “every time the bishops have not dealt with a problem as pastors, they have taken sides politically.” He cited the prosecution of heretics and witch-hunts—rather than political involvement—as examples of this approach.

“What must a pastor do?” the Pope asked. He answered: “Be a pastor; don’t go condemning.”

During the same airborne interview, the Pope said that he did not understand Catholic resistance to the Covid vaccine. He said that everyone at the Vatican is now vaccinated. But—in an obvious reference to Cardinal Raymond Burke—he said: “Even in the College of Cardinals there are some anti-vaxxers—and one of them, poor man, was hospitalized with the virus. Life is ironic.”

Also, reporting on his interview with Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Pope Francis said that during their meeting they had not discussed the issue of immigration, on which they have sharply different views.


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  • Posted by: ggaul2040 - Sep. 17, 2021 6:55 PM ET USA

    I'm curious why all the focus is on denying Communion to politicians who defend abortion. Why do I not here uproar about politicians and others who have divorced and remarried or have extramarital relationships? What of those that support oppressive measures against immigrants trying to find a better life? These and other issues need to have their drum beat just as vigorously.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Sep. 16, 2021 2:44 PM ET USA

    "The Pope stopped short of resolving the question." What else is news? Remember the dubia. Moreover, bishops willing to give communion to pro-abortion politicians typically claim that they do not want to politicize the Eucharist. Well, now they can argue that they are following the Pope by being pastors and not condemning.

  • Posted by: mhains8491 - Sep. 16, 2021 12:30 AM ET USA

    Pope John Paul the Great spoke with clarity, wisdom and compassion. Pope Chaos and Confusion does not.

  • Posted by: tjbenjamin - Sep. 15, 2021 7:12 PM ET USA

    I wonder if this boils down to money. How many in the Church hierarchy fear alienating Liberal Catholics, with the coffers reflecting the alienation? I believe the hierarchy particularly fears alienating rich Liberal Democrats. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

  • Posted by: howwhite5517 - Sep. 15, 2021 7:07 PM ET USA

    Is not the issue, the public stance of the Catholic politicians, leading so many more astray to think that abortion is acceptable or subject to debate.