Well, at least there are some bishops who are willing to stand up to the pro-choice Democrats who claim to be Catholic. And yes, they are always Democrats.
First of all, the new voting guide written by Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix should be required reading for every Catholic in the United States, with the possible exception of nobody. It’s that good.
Second of all, holy cow.
In no uncertain terms, Bishop Olmsted tells Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion that before they receive Communion they need to go to confession and – ready? – make a public amendment for their sins.
You read that right. A public amendment for their sins. Wow.
Read the whole voting guide, called Catholics in the Public Square. It’s written like a FAQ for Catholic voters. It’s easy to read, it’s short, and it’s very, very helpful.
Read the whole thing, but first get a glance of Bishop Olmsted’s pastoral approach, which is that of a shepherd, a teacher, a father. In other words, he gives strong but loving guidance and tells it like it is:
Absolutely not! The Catholic Church is actively engaged in a wide variety of important public policy issues including immigration, education, affordable housing, health, and welfare, to name just a few. On each of these issues we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.
As Pope John Paul II has written, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination” (Christifideles Laici, 38).
There are several issues that are “not negotiable” for Catholics in political life, because they involve matters that are always wrong given their nature. In an address to European politicians on March 30, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI stated: “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:
Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family—as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage—and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.”
The issues mentioned by Pope Benedict are all “non-negotiable” and are some of the most contemporary issues in the political arena. I should note, however, that other issues, while not necessarily “non-negotiable,” are tremendously important and deserve prayerful consideration, such as questions of war and capital punishment, poverty issues, how to best care for our environment, and matters relating to illegal immigration.
No one who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should receive Holy Communion. For the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, our most precious gift in the Church. And St. Paul warns us: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself ” (I Cor 11:27–29).
All Catholics should examine their consciences, and refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they are not living in a proper state of grace. Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal. In these and similar cases, measures beyond those of moral persuasion may need to be taken by those in leadership in the Church. As God tells us in the Book of Leviticus, “You shall not stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake” (19:16).
If a politician is actively supporting and furthering the culture of death, he is not only causing scandal; he is sinning. Similarly, when a politician performs actions (like voting) that allow for abortions and even promote abortions, or that mandate the distribution of contraceptives by pharmacists and others, that politician is materially cooperating in grave sin. When this occurs, then the politician cannot receive Holy Communion without previously making a good confession. A good confession would require sincere sorrow for such sin and a firm purpose of making amendment. Since the harm done would be public in nature, the amendment should also be public.
Read all of Catholics in the Public Square here.
And by the way, it’s strong shepherds like Bishop Olmsted who will cause the 21st century to be seen by Church historians not only as a time of great persecution, but as a time of great renewal of the episcopal office. He and a few others are reminding the rest of the Church what true bishops used to look like, and will again.