This Sunday, a non-Catholic wrote in that he felt that it was an extreme violation of church/state separation for U.S. bishops to decide to allow Eucharist to be withheld to openly pro-choice politicians. He said it dwarfs such minor issues as commandments on public property and prayer in school. His implication seemed to be that the church was withholding communion as a punishment in order to sway politicians to represent the church instead of their constituents. He didn’t seem to have any understanding of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist and probably saw it as just another celebration of unity, as in many Protestant churches. Here’s my letter in response. I’d appreciate feedback before I send it in. It was VERY tough to do within the limit of 300 words, so keep that in mind with your criticisms - I can only go so deep.
XXXXX, in his October 30th letter to the editor, expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic bishops recently agreed to allow the holy Eucharist to be withheld from actively pro-choice politicians. He felt that “anyway you look at it” this was an attempt for a religious institution to interfere in politics. Catholic theology holds that life begins at conception. We view “choice” in the matter of abortion to be the equivalent to allowing personal choice in the murder of one’s child. For us, pro-life legislation is about protecting an innocent from wrongful death. Some “Catholic” politicians do not agree, and one should wonder why some of them would want to maintain membership in a church whose doctrines they personally cannot accept. Christian theology, in any denomination, has long held that sin is not just in committing a wrongful act oneself, but in failure to stand up for the defenseless. By considering himself “Catholic”, a politician is claming to assent to these viewpoints, and to act contrarily to this, politically or privately, he is contradicting the teachings that we believe to have been delivered by God. As Catholics, we believe that the holy Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ, Himself. All Catholics, not just politicians, are asked to abstain from communion when guilty of grave sin. Paul warns that to do otherwise is to eat and drink judgment upon oneself (I Cor.11:27). The church would be acting irresponsibly by allowing pro-choice politicians to spiritually endanger themselves this way. Perhaps Mr. XXX disagrees with our theology, but he is wrong for concluding that the Church’s motivation is political manipulation. This issue, of course, is much too complicated for mere letters to the editor. Please refer to resources such as [www.catholic.com](www.catholic.com) for a better understanding of the Catholic viewpoint in these matters.
October 31, 2005