Communion and Pro Abortionists


I hope I’m in the right forum for this. Hopefully someone will be able to have an answer to this. Is there a certain canon that forbids giving Communion to pro abortion politicians and pro homosexual marriage politicians or even high profile people that promote such? I remember reading somewhere that there is, but don’t know where it is or how to look it up. We have a new Bishop that will be installed in our Diocese that has said he will not hold the Eucharist hostage to people that publicly go against Church teaching. He will not make it a ‘political’ thing. But am just wondering if any Priest of Bishop has a right to do that? Hope this will not cause a firestorm of pros and cons, but it would be nice to have a black and white answer. Thanks all.


I don’t know if refusing Communion to politicians who are known to support abortion or so-called gay “marriage” is in Canon Law, but it’s something that has been discussed.

Now, it’s my understanding that maybe just a priest(?) can refuse someone Communion, and this has happened before and not for just reasons related to social issues. But if an extraordinary minister knew a couple were living together without marriage, I really don’t think he/she would able to refuse either person Communion. :shrug:


Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

“The 1917 Code of Canon Law punished abortion with excommunication. The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (Latae sententiae) excommunication” (Canon 1398) " The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed" (Canon 1329).


It is my understanding (and someone can correct me) that the decision to withhold Communion from pro abortion Catholic politicians is reserved to the bishop - that is, a priest on his own does not have the authority to withhold communion.

It is further my understanding that the imposition of the sanction is within the discretion of the bishop. And that is where a lot of anger has built up, and lot of ink spilled and electrons sent spinning.

The presumption seems to be made that if a bishop does not invoke the rule, then he is best a weakling, and the characterizations attributed to him go downhill from there.

None of us have “worn the moccasins” of any of the bishops, and none of us have had to look at some of the potential repercussions which can flow from such a decision. There are a whole lot of pew-warmers who have what could be described as a rather tenuous hold on salvation. The bishop is responsible for them also, And while God loves a liberal, and other liberals generally do likewise, not too many other people are even particularly fond of them. And yet the bishop is responsible for their salvation too. He has to weigh any number of consequences of his decision either to ban or not to ban. And he does not owe us an explanation as to why he made either decision.

Keep in mind that both John Paul 2 and Benedict 16 have been popes during this time of pro abortion politicians, and I cannot recall either of them keel-hauling any bishops for not banning. That is not to suggest that I, like many others, would not like to see a number of politicians being given the ultimatum. But until I - or others - are ordained bishop, it is not our decision to make, and it is presumptuous that we might think we “know better”.

I would suspect there has been a lot more quiet conversations among and between bishops than we are aware of concerning the matter. I don’t think they are simply ducking the issue; rather, they are trying to do what may result in the most good and least harm to the faithful - including, but definitely not limited to the politicians. People of good and sincere faith can differ as to whether the bishops are choosing what it right, but at the very bottom, it is the bishops who have to make the decision, and it is a discretionary one.

Keep in mind, also, that what one bishop decides on this matter involves only his diocese. Further, keep in mind that the bishop has to have all of his priests refuse Communion; if he has several or more who choose not to, what is the result? Far more problems , for sure.


Why does abortion result in excommunication, but not other forms of murder?


I am not a canon lawyer, nor a theologian or scholar, but, from my research, the best explanations I can come up with are as follows: while a murderer is not excommunicated, they may be punished by certain “expiatory penalties”, whereas excommunication isn’t so much of a “punishment” as it is a method of persuading the offender to repent.

Excommunication belongs to the genus of sanctions known as censures, in contrast to expiatory penalties. Expiatory penalties (canon 1336) punish the offender for a prescribed time or an indefinite time and seek to remedy the damage or injustice done to societal values by the offense and to deter others from engaging in similar wrongdoing. In contrast, censures are considered to be “medicinal penalties” (canon 1312, §1, 1º), which means that they seek to persuade the offender to cease the wrongful behavior and reintegrate the person into the life of the ecclesial community. As such, censures are lifted when the offender “withdraws from contumacy,” i.e., from engaging in the wrongful behavior and making suitable reparation for damages, if necessary (see canons 1347 and 1358).

Properly understood in this way as a medicinal penalty, excommunication certainly does not expel the person from the Catholic Church, but simply forbids the excommunicated person from engaging in certain activities (listed in canon 1331) in the life of the Church until the offender reforms and ceases from the offense. Once this happens, the person is to be restored to the fullness of participation in the life of the Church. Although the remission of the censure pertains to the competent authority to determine whether the person has actually withdrawn from contumacy, in a sense the offender holds in his or her own hand the key to the release from the censure. If the wrongful behavior ceases and any necessary reparation or restitution is made, the excommunication will be lifted; if not, it continues.

I am of the belief that the Church in her wisdom has reasons that I am not able fully to explain, and that excommunication may be misunderstood by the majority of the laity.



I would suggest reading this from Dr. Ed P-----

It’s aptly titled “A primer for those who prefer knowing to opining



Keep in mind that bishops have sent letters to people telling them that their position is contrary to the Church and that, if not settled, then they should not present themselves for communion. Obviously, it is a personal correspondence between a bishop and one of his flock, not something that is meant to splashed across headlines or news shows. If the person refuses to follow the bishop’s request, then that is on them. This is probably the best course of action to take. Singling out any individual publicly will only cause problems.


They are the same thing. If a person commits murder he has committed a mortal sin and must go to confession and be absolved of that sin. This does not excuse him or her of facing civil authorities for this crime.

If a person has had an abortion or assists in an abortion they have committed a mortal sin and must go to confession and be absolved of that sin.


I agree. The Church doesn’t intend to place guards at the front of the church asking for proper identification in order for them to receive communion. An individual who knows he or she is in direct opposition with the Church and still continues to present himself or herself for this Sacred Sacrament has a far greater authority to contend with. We can trust that God knows the intentions of each person. The Church informs the people what they must do to receive the Precious Body and Blood but it still is up to individuals to take the proper action.

Unless there is a public show of forcing the issue then I believe it best for a Bishop to leave the judgment to God.



One reason is this: because civil governments tend not to consider abortion to be a crime, the Church imposes this severe (yet fitting) penalty on this action. If civil governments would outlaw abortion, and back that up with significant, appropriate penalties, I suspect that the Church would not feel the need to maintain this penalty.

The law is a teacher. Since civil law (by and large) has failed to teach people about the evil of abortion, the Church’s law has to pick up the slack.



It is helpful, and instructive, to recall that a minister of Holy Communion is obliged to withhold Communion from those who are in a state of obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin. Certainly, it makes sense for a diocesan bishop to take charge of such things, to make sure the entire diocese is consistently following his directives. If a person is warned about his state, and that he is not to approach Communion without repentance, yet still does so, the minister is to deny Communion. But, a parish priest can also make this decision on his own. Consider:

  1. Naturally, pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned faithful the true ecclesial sense of the norm, in such a way that they would be able to understand it or at least respect it. In those situations, however, in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy. They are to do this with extreme charity, and are to look for the opportune moment to explain the reasons that required the refusal. They must, however, do this with firmness, conscious of the value that such signs of strength have for the good of the Church and of souls.

The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community. They are to give precise instructions to the deacon or to any extraordinary minister regarding the mode of acting in concrete situations.



Actually expiatory penalties can only apply to those who hold ecclesiastical office.



While the definition of “ecclesiastical office” (c. 145) lends itself to some elasticity, I don’t think it stretches that much. Anybody in a religious institute can be subject to such a penalty (c. 1337.1) and I don’t think every religious holds an office. And I would not say that only ecclesiastical office holders can possess a “function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title, or insignia” (c. 1336.1.2) that could be revoked.



I was counting clerics and religious. My point was that the average lay person cannot be subject to expiatory penalties.


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