In the present moment, politics and religion is clashing again. There is little new about this, as such tensions have been around for centuries. However, this point of collision is being played out in the public eye and, at times, the court of public opinion. At issue, President Biden and Speaker Pelosi are outspoken advocates for abortion. This stands in direct contrast to their claim of being “devout” Catholics. The Church leaders who stand against such politicians receiving Holy Communion cite Canon Law #915;
"Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion".
Grave sin, or mortal sin, is, essentially, a break in our relationship with God. These three conditions must be fulfilled for a sin to be considered mortal. Mortal sin is considered so serious because you have deliberately chosen to walk away from God’s grace. You’ve chosen you’d rather live in sin, and ultimately be condemned to hell. You have rejected God’s love.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says defines mortal sin and the consequences of mortal sin. Article 1861 states
“Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back.”
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, quoted from the Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, which states, “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or to vote for it.”
Therefore, by this logic, Catholics who openly advocate for the legalization of abortion or liberalization of existing abortion laws are committing a “grave sin” and should refrain from receiving communion.
Many sources post that two months into his term as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Abp. Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas has issued a statement reminding Catholic lawmakers that abortion advocacy is a gravely immoral — and potentially damnable — offense.
"Recent efforts to perpetuate and expand abortion in state laws have illuminated the deplorable actions of some Catholic public officials and advocates," Naumann lamented. "Their efforts to support and even celebrate such legislation will result in killing many more unborn children, as well as the spiritual and emotional wounding of their mothers and fathers."
Reiterating Church teaching on gravely immoral acts, the archbishop continued: "Advocating for intrinsically evil acts, like abortion, is a serious immoral act — one that involves grave matter, the prerequisite for the commission of a mortal sin."
Though cautioning against judging the subjective conscience of pro-abortion politicians, Naumann warned of a divine reckoning for their objective actions in support of abortion. "While we can object to the actions of these public officials, we are not able to judge their souls," said the archbishop. "At the same time," he added, "we know there will be a Judgment Day."
Developing this point further, Naumann continued:
“Conscious and unrepentant mortal sin endangers our eternal souls and places ourselves on a path to Hell. To receive our Eucharistic Lord, while in a state of mortal sin, only further jeopardizes the eternal fate of our souls. Sincere repentance, a conversion of heart, and a genuine effort to make amends for the harm caused by our sin, are essential to be able to receive God's mercy”.
Reflecting on his moral duties as a Catholic prelate, Abp. Naumann said that he is compelled to call pro-abortion Catholic officials out of their sin — and to penalize them if they refuse.
"In my own role as a bishop, I have a serious responsibility to make certain that those entrusted to my pastoral care are aware of the moral gravity and spiritual consequences of their actions," he wrote. "I also have a serious obligation to protect other members of my flock from being misled by a seeming tolerance of the scandalous behavior of some Catholics in public life."
While stressing the importance of attempting to "enter into dialogue with such Catholic leaders," Naumann warned that those who refuse to renounce their sin preclude themselves from receiving the Eucharist.
"If even after an extended dialogue a Catholic in public life persists in scandalous actions," he said, "I have found it necessary to request that they not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, for their own spiritual welfare and for the protection of many others from moral confusion."
However, public exclusion from Communion is rare in the U.S. Catholic Church today; in 2018, Bp. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois made headlines by reaffirming an earlier pronouncement barring Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) from the Eucharist for promoting abortion.
"Because [Senator Durbin's] voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes 'obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,'" Bp. Paprocki declared, "the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin."
Therefore, the Church needs to take a powerful stand against such politicians who use their “Catholicism” as political talking points. We need to follow the Canon Law of the Church and stand strong. As in the words of Elijah;
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
Our Church leaders need to decide if they are Pastors or politicians.