It seems horrible not to drive one’s elderly parent to church – she hasn’t requested this yet but both my parents will probably have to give up driving soon – but for years now my mom’s been vehemently “pro-choice” and, at least the last time I attended Mass with my parents, she usually receives Communion. I haven’t discussed the abortion issue with her for years because she gets very emotional about it and so I don’t know with absolute certainty that she still holds her views, but I very much doubt that she has changed her ideas. I don’t like the idea of judging anyone but with all the talk about “pro-choice” politicians being denied Communion, it led me to wonder what my duty is here. Am I obligated to tell the pastor of my parents’ church? I would greatly appreciate any advice you would give.
Do you suppose it will persuade your mother to reconsider her views on the issue of abortion for you to refuse to drive her to church and/or attempt to get her pastor to deny her Communion? While I sympathize with your concern for the worthy reception of Communion, you may also want to consider the following:
*]So far as I understand it, the current debate over the reception of Communion by pro-abortion Catholic politicians is raging not because they are receiving Communion unworthily (as bad as it is to receive Communion sacrilegiously); but because of their prominence as public officials who are giving scandal by both publicly promoting abortion and receiving Communion. Your mother is a private individual with little to no influence over public opinion or abortion legislation.
*]The fact that Catholic bishops are currently considering whether or not pro-abortion public officials should be given Communion should they present themselves for Communion is not just grounds for individual lay Catholics to be “patrolling” the Communion lines to determine who among their fellow communicants should or should not receive Communion. Under ordinary circumstances, this is a matter for the individual Catholic to consider in the privacy of his conscience, with the assistance of a confessor or spiritual director.
*]Cutting off your mother from the sacraments and from attending church seems more likely to deepen her estrangement from the Church than to cause her to reflect on her opinions. In fact, she may even blame the Church itself for your individual, unauthorized decision to seek to prevent her from receiving the sacraments and pastoral care. Someone who is both elderly and too physically frail to drive needs more exposure to the love and support of the Church, not less.
[/LIST]I do not want to imply that you should do absolutely nothing to witness to your mother because, as you know, it is indeed a serious matter to receive Communion while dissenting from the Church’s definitive teaching on such a significant moral issue as the right to life. I only wish to point out the problems with the course of action you are considering.
A better idea might be to take your parents to church and to use the occasions to spend time with them on Sundays. Perhaps you could take them out to brunch after Sunday Mass and talk with them about their ideas on various subjects. If you happen to bring up your own pro-life activities (e.g., praying at abortion centers, taking part in marches and/or rallies, etc.) and such talk leads to disagreement, perhaps the public venue of a restaurant will allow for a calmer discussion of differences and give you the opportunity to suggest they talk to a priest or pro-life leader about the issue of abortion.