Amid the debate about whether Catholic public figures who support abortion should be permitted to receive Holy Communion, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois said this week that the most important factor is a personal examination of conscience on the part of those figures.
“I think the first issue is for the communicant himself or herself to examine their conscience and if they are conscious of grave sin, they shouldn’t go to communion,” Paprocki told CNA.
He noted that this is true not only for politicians, but for all Catholics – anyone who is conscious of grave sin should refrain from presenting himself for Holy Communion until he has gone to confession.
“I think that’s something that we’ve kind of forgotten about, and I think, for many people, that it’s just sort of automatic. Everybody gets up and goes to communion. It’s kind of expected, but there first should be that examination of conscience.”
The topic of Holy Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians has become especially relevant with the election of Joe Biden, the first Catholic U.S. president in six decades, who has publicly supported legal protection for abortion.
The bishops of the United States are expected to vote in June on whether to draft a statement on the topic of “Eucharistic coherence” in the wake of Biden’s election to the presidency.
In the meantime, Catholics who publicly and obstinately advocate for abortion, including politicians, can and should be denied communion under canon law, Paprocki said.
“I’m not talking about judging their soul, I’m talking about their external actions. If they’re living in a way or holding positions that are contrary to church teaching, then the Minister of Communion has to deny them the sacrament,” he said.
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