Refusing Communion Is Left
Up to Individual Bishops
Roman Catholic bishops said from a private retreat yesterday that U.S. Catholics should not honor or give awards to politicians who defy "our fundamental moral principles" on abortion and other issues.
But church leaders refrained from making a definitive statement on whether Holy Communion should be withheld from dissenting Catholic lawmakers. The bishops had entered the meeting badly divided over the issue and, after their closed-door discussion, affirmed that under church law each bishop can decide how to apply teachings in his diocese.
"Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times," the bishops said in a statement from their Denver assembly, which is to end today.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis sparked a national debate over Communion and politics in January by saying he would deny the sacrament to Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry, a Catholic. Kerry's support for abortion rights and positions on other issues are against church teachings.
Vatican officials noted the discord. They privately sent documents to the bishops' assembly to guide their discussion.
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-- From News Services