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GALLUP, N.M. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A New Mexico prelate is protecting brother bishops who believe pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied Holy Communion.
In an article for First Things on Tuesday, Bp. James Wall of the diocese of Gallup rebuked San Diego bishop Robert McElroy — ripping his essay that argued pro-life bishops are politically motivated and weaponizing the Eucharist.
Bishop Wall wrote:
But while I don't presume to know what's in the mind and heart of my brother bishops, I am not motivated by political ends, nor are those with whom I have discussed the subject. Our concern is not political but pastoral; it is for the salvation of souls. This issue has political ramifications, but that is not an excuse to shy away at this crucial moment.
Wall also reminded his brother bishop that protecting so-called unity is not the be-all-end-all of the Church:
Jesus prayed that Christians might all be one (John 17:21), and this is an obligation we must all take seriously. Yet he also said, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12:51). Speaking the truth at times appears to create division, but often it simply exposes the division that already exists.
His rebuke didn't end there. The prelate continued by shredding McElroy's accusation that bishops are creating an "extremely expansive" litmus test for anti-life politicians:
Canon law states, "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession" (CIC 916). As abortion is one of the few sins that carries an automatic excommunication (see CIC 1398), there is no doubt that a politician who actively protects abortion and strives to make it more accessible also risks his or her salvation. It surely is not "expansive" to put this evil in the category of grave sin.
Bishop Wall ended his article with a question, which he believes bishops like McElroy should be asking themselves: "Have I done absolutely everything I can as a bishop to try to bring all pro-abortion Catholic politicians in my flock back into a state of grace?"
This cascade of disagreement among U.S. bishops began on May 1, after San Francisco's Abp. Salvatore Cordileone published his pastoral letter, "Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You" — begging pro-abortion politicians to, "please stop the killing."
Cordileone exhorted, "You have the power to affect societal practices and attitudes. Always remember that you will one day have to render an account to God for your stewardship of this trust."
A couple of bishops responded favorably to the piece — joining the push to protect the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion.
Wisconsin's Bp. Donald J. Hying of the Madison diocese plugged Cordileone's letter on a local Catholic news site May 7. Three days prior, Bp. Robert F. Vasa of the Santa Rosa diocese recommended his faithful read it, prayerfully asking for the conversion of pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
Even with the support of other pro-life prelates, Bp. Wall's piece specifically introduces a new dimension to the Holy Communion debate.
He isn't just calling out pro-abortion politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. He's reminding McElroy, and other bishops responsible for guiding these people to the truth, that there is a duty to save these politicians' souls and the lives of the unborn.