Cardinal Dulles on Communion and Pro-Abortion Politicians

Outlines What Actions Should Be Taken

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NEW YORK, JUNE 29, 2004 ( Cardinal Avery Dulles is encouraging U.S. bishops to dialogue with dissenting Catholic politicians about their moral responsibilities before advising them to not receive Communion.

Cardinal Dulles, the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, shared with ZENIT what important steps need to be taken to defend human life, protect the sacraments, uphold the teachings of the Church and respond to pro-abortion politicians.

Q: What are the practical steps a bishop could or should take to encourage a Catholic politician to forgo support for abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research?

Cardinal Dulles: The first step should probably be to make sure that the politicians understand the doctrine of the Church and the reasons for it. Many politicians, like much of the American public, seem to be unaware that abortion and euthanasia are serious violations of the inalienable right to life.

These are not just “Church” issues but are governed by the natural law of God, which is binding upon all human beings. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights, since a person deprived of life has no other rights.

The Church does not herself frame civil laws, but she admonishes lawmakers that the laws must be designed to support justice, including the rights of the unborn child. Bishops should try to get into dialogue with politicians and other persons in public life to remind them of their moral responsibilities.

If, after dialogue, the bishop finds the politician incorrigibly opposed to Catholic teaching on this matter, he may have to advise or order the politician not to receive holy Communion, which is by its very nature a sign of solidarity with the Church.

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