Politicians, Abortion, and Communion

Catholic politicians who authorize abortion by voting for a law or constitutional amendment are guilty of a grave sin, are subject to excommunication for the sin of abortion (as accomplices, at least), and are forbidden to receive Communion under Canon 915, 916, and 1364.

The problem is that Bishops will not excommunicate these politicians, will not recognize their automatic excommunication, and will not instruct priests to refuse Communion to them. And any priest who does refuse Communion to a politician, is likely to be kicked out of his ministry. It is unfortunate that many Bishops are more administrator than Apostle.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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4 Responses to Politicians, Abortion, and Communion

  1. credidimus caritati says:

    I’m puzzled as to why you reference canon 1364, which prescribes a latae sententiae excommunication for heresy, schism, and apostasy, to reinforce your (very correct) argument that pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion under canon law. It is not concerned “merely” with the denial of Holy Communion to those in manifest grave sin (canon 915) or with one’s obligation to examine one’s own conscience before presenting oneself for Holy Communion (canon 916). In fact, canons 915 and 916 are not even penal canons; they are contained within Book IV: The Sanctifying Function of the Church, whereas canon 1364 prescribes a censure and belongs to Book VI: Sanctions, of the Code. I would certainly like to see pro-abortion politicians excommunicated, and having this written out explicitly in the Code would be very helpful in avoiding the risk of scandal. As the law now stands, it would be a bit of a stretch to say all such politicians have incurred latae sententiae censures (though it is quite possible that some have); on the other hand, the failure of bishops to impose ferendae sententiae penalties where necessary is truly unfortunate.

    • Ron Conte says:

      In asserting that abortion is a right, and that it should be broadly legal, they assert the heresy that abortion is not murder (contrary to the infallible teaching of Evangelium Vitae that it is a type of murder).

  2. credidimus caritati says:

    It would indeed be heresy to believe that abortion is permissible according to Catholic moral theology; however, the canonical definition of formal heresy, that which would result in a latae sententiae excommunication as per canon 1364, must be defined and applied narrowly, just as all penal canons are subject to strict interpretation (c. 18). In addition, it would be presumptuous of us to think that canonical crimes regarding belief (heresy, apostasy, and schism) can be definitively discerned through an individual’s actions. For example, if somebody commits sacrilege by desecrating the Eucharist, we cannot immediately conclude that he is a heretic who does not believe in the Real Presence; on the contrary, it is possible that he committed such a heinous act precisely because he DOES believe in the Real Presence, thus increasing his malice. It could be that Cuomo promotes abortion simply because has no respect for human life; if he is not a heretic, then his malice would only be increased. In any case, we cannot simply come to the conclusion that a person is a heretic simply by judging his actions; although Cuomo does need to be punished, it appears that it would be easier to establish a case from canon 1369: “A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty”.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, belief and action are sometimes in conflict. A bank robber might believe correctly that bank robbery is wrong, and do it anyway. On the other hand, if Cuomo has stated publicly that abortion is a right, something common among pro-abortion politicians, then that would be sufficient to establish the heresy. For a ferendae sententiae excommunication, by Cardinal Dolan, some communication with the accused is just and necessary, at which time he could be questioned as to his beliefs.

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