...Dear Bishops

Some of you have told Senator John Kerry and other prochoice Catholic politicians not to receive Communion in your dioceses. Others have gone so far as to say that Catholics who vote for a prochoice politician should not consider themselves in full communion with the church and are therefore unworthy of receiving the Eucharist. Most of you, however, have abjured these tactics, saying you do not want the Eucharist to be used as a weapon. Still, you have defended the right of any bishop to exclude prochoice politicians from Communion.

This is confusing. As John F. Kavanaugh, SJ, wrote in America (July 19-26), “Some Catholics have wondered whether mortal sins vary according to states and dioceses.” Nor is it clear what you realistically hope to accomplish, or are willing to tolerate, when it comes to changing abortion law in the United States. What sort of political compromise, if any, are you willing to work for and live with?

The church’s position on abortion seems straightforward enough: Innocent life is to be protected from the moment of conception. Complications soon arise, however. In Catholic teaching, exceptions are not allowed even for abortions following rape or incest. Is it your position that this teaching should be enacted into civil law, and that Catholic politicians who do not work vigorously toward this end are not in full communion with the church? Presumably, most of you would answer no...

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