The Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS has stated that the Governor of the state cannot receive communion because of her support of abortion. Does this include all members of the church body who support abortion that we cannot receive communion and if this is so we cannot consider ourselves as Catholic as we will not be full members of the church?
The principle behind all this is that our actions should correspond to our beliefs. When we receive communion, we are united with Christ (truly present in the Eucharist) and with His Body, the Church. Yet, to do this while acting in a way totally contrary to what Jesus teaches us is to become a self-contradiction, is to live a lie, and is offensive to our faith and to the Body of Christ. All of us can fall into this condition by our own failures to live up to our faith, by our own sins. In such case, we should acknowledge our errors, make a worthy sacramental confession, and make the necessary amendment to our lives. Receiving the Eucharist should always challenge us to practice what we believe.
The reason this all has escalated in the Governor’s case is that she is a very public figure. She has very publicly opposed our belief in the sanctity of all life, including the unborn. She has done this by her direct support of abortion rights and opposition of anything that would restrict abortion. At the same time, she has publicly proclaimed to be a Catholic. She has not acknowledged any error, neither has she made any amendment to her life that corresponds to the public nature of her support of abortion. This becomes for us a scandal—a confusing and false message that a Catholic can treat the Church’s teachings on abortion as optional. So Archbishop Naumann, for the Governor’s well-being and ours, is publicly calling her to task on the issue. The obligation is on her to respond. We pray she does.
As for the rest of us, we too are called to live our beliefs and examine ourselves before receiving communion. However, most of our actions are different, in that our actions are not so public and therefore not so scandalous. Yet, to support abortion is a serious issue and should be a reason to refrain from receiving the Eucharist if this support is direct or formal (such as procuring an abortion, helping someone to do so, etc.). If the support is remote and not directly intended, such as might happen when voting for a political candidate, then this may be permitted if there are other proportionate reasons for voting for that candidate—a judgment each individual must make.
This is a far bigger issue than I can address here. I encourage you to read the Archbishop’s responses to questions found in this week’s Leaven.
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