Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ today responded to what he charged was a misrepresentation of his position on the "Kerry communion scandal" by the Arizona Republic:
The headline in the Arizona Republic (5/21/04), "Bishops won't link politics, Communion" misrepresents my position. Abortion is the killing of a completely innocent life and thus bad news for both unborn children and their mothers. It is a horrible wrong. It is intrinsically evil. We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the most innocent and vulnerable. Whoever fails to do this, especially when they are able to do so, commit serious sins of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual wellbeing and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion.
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 (I Cor 11:27-29): "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 call upon all Catholics, especially those in public life, to examine their consciences, and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they are unambiguously pro-abortion. As a bishop, I shall continue to pray for an end to abortion and other sins against life; I shall stand up for the life and dignity of every human person and I urge all people of good will to do the same. Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed. As God tells us in the Book of Leviticus (19:16), "You shall not stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake."
Some might regard Olmsted's statements as akin to Cardinal McCarrick's -- perhaps more strongly worded than the latter, but begging the question: what is the next course of action when an "unambiguously pro-abortion" Catholic persists in his stance and disregards the Bishop's request? A discussion of this is taking place over at Amy Welborn's blog. I thought the following comment was helpful in understanding Olmsted's approach:
Canon law and Catholic Theology do not impose on the minister of Holy Communion the responsibility of judging the worthiness per se of everyone who comes up to receive -- that would be an impossible burden, for many reasons. The obligation of denying Communion to a baptized, non-sanctioned Catholic under Canon 915 is related to the problem of scandal rather than "complicity in profanation," which is one of the reasons why Bishop Olmsted said, "Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed."
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.