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Ratzinger’s Foxtrot on
Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians

Kathleen Willett Redle

As usual the Conciliar Church is strangely ambiguous on so important an issue as distributing Communion to pro-abortion politicians who call themselves Catholic. Whether or not the militant pro-abortion politician John Kerry should receive Communion has sparked a firestorm of debate inside and outside the Catholic Church.

Common sense and Catholic doctrine teach us that notorious sinners or persons who are in a state of grave sin may not receive Holy Communion. It is up to the Bishops to enforce this. (On the topic please see my article “Bishop Pilla on Communion to Pro-abortion Politicians”). But instead of a clear and undisputable statement on this subject, we have seen all kind of tergiversations coming from the Vatican. I will briefly expound the recent backward and forward action on the issue.

First step: Bishops should give Communion

The first attitude of Cardinal Ratzinger was one of complacence toward giving Communion to pro-abortion politicians. A Catholic News Service dispatch read:
“Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, NM, said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke of proceeding cautiously on the issue …. Ratzinger said he would like Vatican officials to meet soon with a US Bishops' panel reviewing how church leaders should interact with Catholics in public life” (June 04, 2004).
Reading this, we thought, “Well this doesn’t sound good. For what does ‘proceeding cautiously’ in denying Communion mean if not effectively to give Communion?”

Second step: Bishops should deny Communion

Cardinal Ratzinger

The different explanations of Cardinal Ratzinger...   Inside the Vatican, June-July 1999
One month later an account in Catholic World News offered us more hope that the equivocation would stop. It read:
“The Italian weekly L'Espresso has reported that Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the American Bishops that they should speak privately with prominent Catholics who defy Church teachings on key issues involving the sanctity of life, alert them to the gravity of their offenses, and warn them that they should not receive Communion. The Vatican's chief doctrinal official wrote: ‘When these precautionary measures have not had their effect .... 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.’ L'Espresso has published the full text of Cardinal Ratzinger's letter, which had not previously been available to the public” (July 3, 2004).
So, we concluded, “At least this time Ratzinger has taken a strong and good position.”

Third step: Bishops can either deny or give communion

But this joy was not long lasting. A warning bell sounded in the same Catholic World Report news item, which affirmed:
“At their Denver meeting, the US Bishops adopted a policy statement re-affirming the Church's condemnation of legal abortion, but stopping short of any call for withholding the Eucharist from prominent abortion supporters. The Bishops reportedly turned down a milder form of the resolution, backed by Cardinal McCarrick, which would have said that it was imprudent to deny the Eucharist to Catholic politicians. In conversations with the press, Cardinal McCarrick had hinted that the Ratzinger letter gave support to that position” (July 3, 2004).
Numerous people, especially conservative Catholics, saw in McCarrick’s position the expression of a revolt of the American Bishops against Ratzinger. They started criticizing Cardinal McCarrick, calling him wishy-washy and praising Cardinal Ratzinger as a strong and consistent Prelate. Even traditional Catholic writers were apologizing for being too hard on Cardinal Ratzinger regarding his initial attitude.

But the problem to face was not one of polite eulogies or apologies. The question to be answered was this: Was McCarrick correct when he said Ratzinger supported his position? If he was, then the matter returned full circle, with no one certain whether Ratzinger takes a pro or con stance on denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians.

Then, in the “Vatican II spirit of collegiality,” Cardinal Ratzinger officially backtracked again, saying “Let the various Bishops conferences do whatever they want within broad limits.” We read the following words in his July 9 letter to Cardinal McCarrick:
“Your Eminence

“With your letter of June 21, 2004, transmitted via fax, you kindly sent a copy of the Statement "Catholics in Political Life," approved by the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at their June meeting.

“The Congregation is grateful for this courtesy. The statement is very much in harmony with the general principles ‘Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,’ sent as a fraternal service to clarify the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue in order to assist the American Bishops in their related discussion and determinations. It is hoped that this dialogue can continue as the Task Force carries on its important work.

“With fraternal regards and prayerful best wishes,

“I am, Sincerely yours in Christ

“Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger” (
That is to say, he backed off from the good affirmations he made in his second step and left the decision in the hands of each Bishop.

The same traditionalist writers who were taking Ratzinger’s foxtrot seriously had to apologize for their apology. It was sadly ironic.

So, the “newspeak” continues from the Hierarchy, and the “charitable anathema” was withdrawn to please everyone. It is a good example of how the present day Vatican worships at the altar of public opinion instead of worshiping Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. And it is a good example of the changeability of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 3, 2004

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