Eighteen House Democrats, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), are responding to Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that indicated he would support Mexican bishops if they were to excommunicate Mexican legislators who voted last month to legalize abortion in Mexico City.
The Pope made his remarks last Wednesday during a news conference aboard a plane before he was to begin a five-day visit to Brazil.
“We are concerned with the Pope’s recent statement warning Catholic elected officials that they risk excommunication and would not receive communion for their pro-choice views,” the lawmakers said in a statement issued yesterday. “Advancing respect for life and for the dignity of every human being is, as our church has taught us, our own life’s mission.”
The Democratic lawmakers said that the suggested penalty “offend[s] the very nature of the American experiment and do[es] a great disservice to the centuries of good work the church has done.”
If one reads the Pope’s remarks, he made it very clear that the actions of the Mexican bishops was nothing new or arbitrary.
The excommunication was not something arbitrary. It is part of the (canon law) code. It is based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going in Communion with the body of Christ. Thus, they (the bishops) didn't do anything new or anything surprising. Or arbitrary."
The Pope leads the world wide Catholic Church. He was speaking the Truth to individual Catholics. If those individual Catholics happen to be legislators, their position does not absolve them from their responsibility to live every aspect of their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Truths of the Church transcend governmental structures and political parties.
The papal spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi reiterated this:
But Lombardi added that politicians who vote in favor of abortion should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. "Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. ... Politicians exclude themselves from Communion."
Pressed again to say whether the lawmakers were excommunicated, Lombardi reiterated: "No, they exclude themselves from Communion."
Pope Benedict is not threatening Catholic politicians with excommunication if they support abortion. He is just making sure these politicians are fully informed and understand the complete spiritual consequences of their professional activities. It would be irresponsible for him to do otherwise.