Pro-life leaders from across the world met in Vatican City last Saturday for the first Rome Life Forum, an initiative which organizers plan on holding annually.
The aim of the meeting was to bring together international leaders from the pro-life movement and to link up with the organizers of Rome's March for Life which took place the following day.
Among the keynote speakers was Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, who said the reception of Holy Communion by political figures who support abortion is a “grave scandal”.
“The Church’s discipline, from the time of Saint Paul, has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion," he said.
He added that “the discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin. It prevents them from committing sacrilege by violating the incomparable sanctity of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and safeguards the Christian community and the community at large from scandal, that is, from being led to believe that the violation of the moral law, for example in what pertains to the inviolable dignity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the freedom of conscience, is not sinful, does not gravely break communion with Our Lord”.
Cardinal Burke also described St. John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) as “the inspiration and guide for all labors to overcome the culture of violence and death and to advance the civilization of life and love.”
“The first and most fundamental way of radiating the truth which Our Lord Jesus never fails to teach us in the Church is a strong witness to the inviolable dignity of all human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” he said.
“The personal conversion and the transformation of the world to which we are called by Christ must, first of all, find expression in the safeguarding and fostering of every human life, especially of ‘the least of these my brethren,’ in accord with Our Lord’s Parable on the Last Judgment.”
52 pro-life leaders from 16 nations attended Saturday's meeting and signed a declaration calling on Catholic Church bishops to deny the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians.
The leaders said they signed it out of "concern" and "love" for those politicians, hoping that it will be a "‘wake-up call’ to invite them back to the authentic faith.
The pro-life leaders are urging the world’s bishops to honor Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
The first Rome Life Forum’s organizers and sponsors included LifeSiteNews, Human Life International, Family Life International New Zealand and the organizers of the Rome March for Life.
The full text of the declaration follows:
We, Pro-Life Leaders, Call on the Bishops of the World to Extend Mercy to the Church’s Pro-Abortion Politicians
WHEREAS Saint Paul wrote in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:29);
WHEREAS Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”;
WHEREAS Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a 2004 letter to the US bishops, called "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion", that a Catholic politician who votes for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws "must" be denied Communion after being duly instructed and warned;
WHEREAS Catholic politicians who support abortion are already in grave sin, and in receiving Holy Communion their sin is compounded by sacrilege;
WHEREAS by being given Holy Communion such Catholic politicians may well believe that they are spiritually healthy and thus not in need of any remedy;
WHEREAS distributing Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians causes scandal to the rest of the faithful in that they come to believe that support for abortion is not too serious a sin, and thus undermines pro-life work;
WHEREAS being refused Holy Communion is an effective wake-up call to return to an authentic life of faith;
WHEREAS it is unmerciful to allow our brothers living in obstinate public sin to languish there without warning;
We the undersigned ask the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.