Pope Francis says Catholic bishops must serve politicians who support abortion rights with “compassion and tenderness”, not condemnation
ON THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic bishops should minister with “compassion and tenderness”, not condemnation, to politicians who support the right to abortion and warned that religious should not let politics get into communion issues.
Francis refused to answer with “yes” or “no”, saying he did not know enough about the American case. He repeated that abortion was a “homicide” and that Catholic priests cannot give the Eucharist to someone who is not in communion with the Church. He cited the case of a Jew, or someone who is not baptized or who has strayed from the church.
Most important, he said, was that priests and bishops must respond pastorally and not politically to any problem that comes their way. He said they should use “the style of God” to accompany the faithful with “closeness, compassion and tenderness”.
“And what should the pastors do? Be pastors, and do not condemn, condemn, ”François declared.
Francis recalled cases where the church had clung to a principle for political reasons and it ended badly, citing the conviction of Giordano Bruno for alleged heresy at the time of the Inquisition. He was burned alive at the Campo dei Fiori in Rome.
“Whenever the church, in order to defend a principle, has not done so in a pastoral way, it has taken a political stand,” Francis said. “If a pastor leaves the pastoral care of the church, he immediately becomes a politician. “
Francis said he never refused Communion to anyone, although he said he never knowingly had a pro-abortion politician before him either. And he admitted that he once gave Communion to an elderly woman who afterwards confessed that she was Jewish.
Francis repeated his conviction that the Eucharist “is not a price for the perfect” but rather “a gift of the presence of Jesus in the church”. But it was unequivocal that it cannot be given to anyone who is not “in fellowship” with the church, although he declined to say whether a pro-abortion politician was out of fellowship.
He also unequivocally asserted that abortion is murder and that even a week old embryo is human life that must be protected.
“If you have an abortion, you kill,” Francois said. “That’s why the church is so tough on this issue, because if you accept this, you accept the homicide every day.”
The American bishops agreed in June that the conference doctrine committee will draft a statement on the meaning of fellowship in the life of the church for consideration, possibly at an in-person meeting in November. To be formally adopted, the document would need the support of two-thirds of the bishops.
Despite the short flight home from Bratislava, the Slovak capital, Francis answered an unusually wide range of questions. Among other things, he said:
– That he did not understand why some people refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, claiming that “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines” and that a calm discussion was necessary to help them.
– That states can and should pass civil laws to allow same-sex couples to have inheritance rights and medical coverage, but that the church cannot accept same-sex marriage because marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. “Marriage is marriage. It doesn’t mean condemning people who are like that. No please! They are our brothers and sisters and we must accompany them. “
– That his surgery to remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) from his colon in July was not easy, despite those who marveled at how well he had recovered. “It wasn’t cosmetic surgery,” he joked.