CALGARY, Alberta, MAY 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry should voluntarily abstain from, or be denied, Communion “by reason of his defiant dissent from fundamental Catholic teaching,” says a Canadian bishop.
Two Arizona bishops, meanwhile, said they won’t deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion.
Bishop Fred Henry, 61, of Calgary took the Kerry to task in a statement published by the Western Catholic Reporter.
He wrote: “Kerry, who has consistently voted pro-choice through his political career, was an outspoken critic of the Partial Birth Abortion Act signed last year by President George Bush. He voted against the Defence of Marriage Act in 1996 and has opposed calls for a constitutional amendment to protect the status of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The Canadian prelate added: “Despite repeated admonition from bishops, first private, then public, he adamantly insists that he will continue to receive Communion when he attends Mass no matter what. … By sharing in Communion, Catholics testify that they are in fundamental union of heart and mind. On fundamental life issues, Kerry is clearly offside.”
Bishop Henry continued: “John Kerry is not the only Catholic politician in North America who is offside, but he is the only one running for the presidency of the United States, and his situation is something of a test case. The same dilemma and principles would apply to the Clarks, Chretiens and Martins in Canada.”
Explaining his stance, the bishop wrote: “It is not so much a question of proposing a Catholic agenda. The goal is to help shape public policy that is in conformity with the law rooted in our nature that governs us all no matter what our religious belief.
“Thus, politicians are called to try an ensure that the laws that govern us protect human life, respect the human person, preserve the unique nature of marriage, support family, ensure the safety of children, guarantee religious freedom and make it possible for all citizens to share in the conditions that are necessary for humane living.”
The Calgary bishop concluded: “The U.S. bishops set up a committee to discuss possible disciplinary sanctions for defiant Catholic politicians. I am anxiously awaiting the outcome of their discussions. In the meantime, I believe the question, ‘If a dissident Catholic leader obstinately persists in opposing fundamental Church teaching, should he or she be turned away if they present themselves for Communion,’ has to be answered, ‘Yes.'”
In Arizona, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, 56, of Phoenix said that instead of refusing to offer Communion, he will try to use persuasion to educate politicians about Church teachings.
“My job is to get to know the key people in the state and appeal to their consciences,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas, 62, of Tucson said that sanctions against politicians would be “premature.”