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People labor under many myths about the Catholic Church. One of the more popular ones is that self-styled Catholic politicians who vote for abortion can receive Holy Communion. In 2004, the U.S. bishops asked Rome if that's possible, and Rome gave a resounding no.
One year before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, then-head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responded to a query from U.S. bishops, asking if Catholic pro-abortion politicians could receive Holy Communion. The cardinal informed the U.S. bishops in writing that the Church's ban on this was still in force. In his letter Cdl. Ratzinger wrote:
Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
In the same letter, the cardinal cited the Church's canonical texts that spelled out what U.S. bishops must do if the pro-abortion politician stubbornly presents himself for Holy Communion. "When 'these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,' and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, 'the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.'"
Watch the panel discuss common misperceptions of the Faith on Friday's Download: The One True Faith—Twelve Catholic Myths.
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