Cardinal Ratzinger and U.S. Bishops "in Harmony"

On Issue of Pro-Abortion Politicians’ Access to Communion

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 13, 2004 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and U.S. bishops are «very much in harmony» in regard to the Church’s position on the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians’ access to Communion.

This was expressed in a letter sent Friday by the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, president of a task force on U.S. bishops and politicians, which has spoken out on the issue in a statement entitled «Catholics and Political Life.»

In that declaration, approved in the episcopate’s last assembly, in June, the bishops say: «‘Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment’ in this serious matter, the Bishops state that they ‘recognize that such decisions rest with the individual Bishop in accord with established canonical and pastoral principles.'»

The bishops reminded the faithful that politicians who promote abortion risk becoming «cooperators in evil in a public manner.» Therefore, before going to Communion, they must examine their conscience on this dimension of their political commitment.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter, published Monday, explained that the U.S. bishops’ statement «is very much in harmony with the general principles ‘Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,’ sent as a fraternal service — to clarify the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue — in order to assist the American Bishops in their related discussion and determinations.»

The publication of the message came in the wake of media reports that there were differences between Cardinal Ratzinger and the U.S. bishops.

Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, indicated he was pleased to receive Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter and explained that the work carried out was done in constant contact with the Vatican official.

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