In the United States, political stakes for human rights are high as we approach the 2020 presidential election, and given that Catholics are the largest religious bloc in the USA, we have tremendous power to build the culture of life. Every year the stakes are high because of elections for Congress, governors, state lawmakers, mayors, and city councils. Let’s not forget that America’s abortion holocaust and the violation of states’ rights to protect the sanctity of matrimony came from tyranny by the U.S. Supreme Court. Therefore, presidential nominations for Supreme Court justices and federal judges are at risk too.
With life-and-death crises in mind, the chairman of United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities urged his brother bishops this year to alert Catholic political officials and voters that they may not take Holy Communion if they empower our government to license intrinsic evils, such as the gruesome and deadly violence of abortion.
Of course he is Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and his homily at the 2019 March for Life Mass in Washington, D.C. puts everything into perspective. There, he concelebrated Mass with 300 priests and Pope Francis’s apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The American priests included cardinals and bishops. Prior to the March for Life, the archbishop also led the USCCB Mass at the Franciscan Shrine of the Holy Land, where he concelebrated with other priests, and HLI President Father Shenan J. Boquet was at the altar again this year.
No one but EWTN is allowed take photos or record the official March for Life Mass, so thanks to them for this video and Archbishop Naumann’s homily begins at the 37-minute mark:
Starting with Christ and His Apostles, the Catholic Church always called her people to total integrity. God doesn’t accept excuses like “I’m personally opposed to abominable crimes, but other people should be free to commit those crimes.” Thus, the Holy Bible contains Saint Paul’s warning: “For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.”
The USCCB has no jurisdiction over individual Catholics. Instead, bishops have the duty to guide and, if need be, discipline people in their dioceses. Bishops also have the authority to name and ban from Holy Communion all Catholics who publicly violate the Church’s non-negotiable Doctrines for Catholics in Political Life.
Therefore, the Catholic Church formally warns all her people with official canon laws on the Most Holy Eucharist, and typically bishops cite these two:
Canon 915: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Canon 916: “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”
Here is Archbishop Naumann’s plea to his brother bishops and all Catholics, published by the USCCB:
Recent efforts to perpetuate and expand abortion in state laws have illuminated the deplorable actions of some Catholic public officials and advocates. Their efforts to support and even celebrate such legislation will result in killing many more unborn children, as well as the spiritual and emotional wounding of their mothers and fathers. Advocating for intrinsically evil acts, like abortion, is a serious immoral act – one that involves grave matter, the prerequisite for the commission of a mortal sin. While we can object to the actions of these public officials, we are not able to judge their souls. At the same time, we know there will be a Judgment Day.
Conscious and unrepentant mortal sin endangers our eternal souls and places ourselves on a path to Hell. To receive our Eucharistic Lord, while in a state of mortal sin, only further jeopardizes the eternal fate of our souls. Sincere repentance, a conversion of heart, and a genuine effort to make amends for the harm caused by our sin, are essential to be able to receive God’s mercy.
In my own role as a bishop, I have a serious responsibility to make certain that those entrusted to my pastoral care are aware of the moral gravity and spiritual consequences of their actions. I also have a serious obligation to protect other members of my flock from being misled by a seeming tolerance of the scandalous behavior of some Catholics in public life. It is critically important that I attempt to enter into dialogue with such Catholic leaders. If even after an extended dialogue a Catholic in public life persists in scandalous actions, I have found it necessary to request that they not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, for their own spiritual welfare and for the protection of many others from moral confusion.
I invite all Catholics to pray for spiritual healing for all those involved in or advocating for legalized abortion. When we truly repent, God is always eager to lavish us with His mercy.
Other Bishops Are United with Naumann
Other American bishops are doing their best to save lives and souls by warning their flocks. This isn’t a complete list, but some of the most recent proclamations.
> Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois is a canon lawyer and he banned all Illinois Catholic officials from Holy Communion who took part in the state toppling abortion restrictions. His public announcement serves as notice to the offending politicians, and all priests and other Eucharistic ministers in the Springfield Diocese. In part, his official decree says:
Due to their leadership roles in promoting the evil of abortion by facilitating the passage of Senate Bill 25 this legislative session and House Bill 40 in 2017, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been barred from receiving Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois under a decree from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. In addition, Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for either of these abortion bills are not to present themselves to receive Holy Communion.
The decree comes as these legislative leaders have shown obstinate and persistent support of extreme abortion legislation. House Bill 40 legalized taxpayer funding for abortion and Senate Bill 25 makes abortion a fundamental right, allows for the killing of innocent children up to the moment of birth, and requires private insurance to pay for abortion, among other anti-life changes.
Bishop Paprocki cites Saint Paul’s biblical warning noted above, as well as canon laws 915 and 916.
In issuing this decree, I anticipate that some will point out the Church’s own failings with regard to the abuse of children. The same justifiable anger we feel toward the abuse of innocent children, however, should prompt an outcry of resistance against legalizing the murder of innocent children. The failings of the Church do not change the objective reality that the murder of a defenseless baby is an utterly evil act.
None of the Catholic lawmakers who live in Bishop Paprocki’s diocese voted for these laws. Therefore, he wrote: “I want to thank lawmakers who stood up to these barbaric pieces of legislation and voted ‘no,’ and I applaud their courage to speak the truth that the most basic right we should all enjoy, is the right to life.”
> Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington wrote this prior to Archbishop Naumann’s formal plea:
Each January as the nation commemorates the sad anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, marches are held, and vigils are prayed. Those committed to the cause of human rights of the unborn make their voices heard. This year, pro-abortion politicians fearing increased restrictions on abortion have advocated for and passed laws expanding access to abortion in the state of New York. Similar attempts have been made in Virginia.
Efforts to expand access to abortion, allowing murder of children up to the moment of birth is evil. Children are a gift from God, no matter the circumstances of their conception. They not only have a right to life, but we as a society have a moral obligation to protect them from harm.
The champion of this abortion legislation is Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic and governor of New York. Governor Cuomo frequently cites his Catholic faith in support of legislation he favors. His public witness as a Catholic politician, coupled with his stalwart support of abortion, is unacceptable.
Politicians who reside in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, and who obstinately persevere in their public support for abortion, should not receive Communion without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church (cf. Canon 915; “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles.” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2004).
The Church’s commitment to the life of every human person from conception until death is firm. God alone is the author of life and for the civil government to sanction the willful murder of children is unacceptable. For a Catholic political leader to do so is scandalous.
I encourage the faithful to turn to our Lord in prayer for our political leaders, entrusting them especially to the intercession of St. Thomas More, a public servant who preferred to die at the hands of civil authorities rather than abandon Christ and the Church. Let us also keep the unborn, as well as all pregnant mothers, in our prayers.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts forever.
Cardinal Burke Weighs-in
Martha McCallum of Fox News interviewed longtime HLI ally Cardinal Raymond Burke, a justice on the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, and he explicitly warned Joe Biden not to take Holy Communion. “I’ve had non-Catholic leaders of government in this nation tell me that they were certain that the Catholic teaching on abortion and so-called same-sex marriage have changed because so many Catholics on Capitol Hill are regularly supporting this kind of legislation. And that’s a scandal,” said Cardinal Burke.
> Human Life International President Father Shenan Boquet and past HLI presidents have repeatedly spoken out on this subject. Five years ago HLI joined pro-life leaders from 52 countries in signing a document, asking bishops to invoke their moral authority and deny the Eucharist to abortion politicians. Just earlier this year, for instance, Father Boquet condemned the horror of Governor Cuomo (D) celebrating the passing of the so-called Reproductive Health Act, which destroyed all protections for unborn babies in one of the nation’s most extreme abortion laws, allowing abortions till birth. Father Boquet urges everyone to pray that this and other like laws be overturned.