Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
In a private memorandum, top Vatican prelate Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told American bishops that Communion must be denied to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.
While never mentioning Sen. John Kerry by name, the memo implicitly aims at the pro-choice Catholic Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate.
Ratzinger’s ban is broad and includes all other pro-abortion Catholic politicians who are defying the church’s ban on abortion.
According the Culture of Life Foundation, which obtained a copy of the confidential document, the Cardinal began by stressing the serious nature of receiving Communion and the need for each person to make “a conscious decision” regarding their worthiness based on “the Church’s objective criteria.”
But the Cardinal adds that it is not only the responsibility of the pro-abortion politicians such as Kerry to make a judgment about their worthiness to receive Communion.
It is also up to those distributing Communion to deny the sacrament to those in conflict with the Church’s prohibition of abortion and the duty of office holders to oppose the procedure.
“Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.”
If a politician such as Kerry “still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it, ” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.
He added that such as denial does not mean that the minister of Communion is judging the politician’s soul but is a reflection that he is in a state of obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.
“Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”
The document also address the issues of the death penalty and war, contrasting these issues and with abortion.
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia … There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia,” Ratzinger wrote.
The memo was one of the subjects of an interim report by a task force of seven bishops established to address the Communion question.
The topic was also addressed by the American Bishops during their mid-June meeting in Dallas.
At that meeting the Bishops approved a document titled “Catholics in Political Life” which while it had harsh words for pro-abortion leaders, did not make specific recommendations on whether or not they should be denied Communion instead leaving the decision to individual Bishops.
Implicit in what the the Cardinal was saying, however, is that the bishops are required to state unambiguously that pro-abortion politicians must be denied Holy Communion, thus removing the decision from the bishops’ discretion.