TRENTON, New Jersey, MAY 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who supports legal abortion in spite of Church teaching, announced that he will no longer receive Communion at Mass.
McGreevey’s statement at a press conference Wednesday follows the declarations of bishops that his stances on abortion, domestic partnership for homosexual couples and use of human stem cells in medical research are at odds with Catholic teaching.
The New York Times reported that Bishop John Smith of Trenton had said he would refuse to give the governor Communion. Last week, Bishop Joseph Galante of nearby Camden said he would refuse McGreevey if the governor sought Communion in his diocese, citing McGreevey’s divorce and remarriage.
Also on Wednesday, the head of an archdiocese in New Jersey released a pastoral statement urging pro-abortion politicians to refrain from receiving Communion.
Archbishop John Myers of Newark wrote in this week’s Catholic Advocate, the archdiocesan newspaper, “That some Catholics, who claim to believe what the Church believes, are willing to allow others to continue directly to kill the innocent is a grave scandal.”
“The situation is much, much worse when these same leaders receive the Eucharist when they are not objectively in communion with Christ and His Church,” he stated. “Their objective dishonesty serves to compound the scandal.”
In his statement entitled “A Time for Honesty,” Archbishop Myers explained the personal and communal aspects of faith, the correct development of conscience and the nature of dissent, the meaning and purpose of the Eucharist, the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and the grave injustice of abortion.
“Although we must all follow our conscience, the task of conscience is not to create moral truth, but perceive it,” he wrote. “It is quite possible for an individual to perceive the moral reality of a particular situation erroneously. Such a person may be sincere, but he or she is sincerely wrong.”
The archbishop pointed out that dissent has natural consequences in a community of faith.
“Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church’s teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches,” said the 62-year-old prelate. “They have also separated themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community.”
The archbishop implored dissenters to be forthright: “The Church cannot force such people to change their position; but she can and does ask them honestly to admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church.”
He continued: “One who practices such dissent, even in the mistaken belief that it is permissible, may remain a Catholic in some sense, but has abandoned the full Catholic faith. For such a person to express ‘communion’ with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest.”
“It is a time for honesty,” he added. “I ask and urge that Catholic voters and Catholics in public life carefully consider their position if they find themselves in opposition to Church teaching in these matters.”
“Sadly, I must point out that to continue down this road places them in danger of distancing themselves even more from Jesus Christ and from His Church,” the archbishop said.
Throughout the statement, Archbishop Myers affirmed the right to life and the need for all Catholics to protect it.
“There is no right more fundamental than the right to be born and reared with all the dignity the human person deserves,” he said.
“On this grave issue, public officials cannot hold themselves excused from their duties, especially if they claim to be Catholic,” he added. “Every faithful Catholic must be not only ‘personally opposed’ to abortion, but also must live that opposition in his or her actions. … As voters, Catholics are under an obligation to avoid implicating themselves in abortion, which is one of the gravest of injustices.”