Pope Francis spoke on the topic of abortion and Catholic politicians who publicly support the barbaric practice during a flight back to Rome from Slovakia, telling reporters that the Catholic Church has no plans to change its teachings on abortion, but that Catholic leaders should seek to counsel abortion-supporting politicians privately before taking the extreme step of excommunicating them from the Church.
“Answering questions aboard the papal plane from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Rome on Sept. 15, the pope emphatically said that abortion ends a human life and that human life must be respected,” EWTN News reported.
“Abortion is more than an issue. Abortion is homicide,” Pope Francis said, definitively. “It’s a homicide. No middle terms. Whomever does an abortion, kills.”
The Church, Pope Francis added, will remain strict on the issue, despite Catholic politicians like President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who claim that their conscience leads them to support “reproductive rights” and publicly support not just the right to obtain an abortion, but take affirmative action to protect abortion as a practice.
“Scientifically it’s a human life. The textbooks teach us that. But is it right to take it out to solve a problem? And this is why the Church is so strict on this issue because it is kind of like accepting this is accepting daily murder,” Pope Francis noted.
The theology of the issue, he added, is “simple.”
As for whether to deny a pro-abortion politician the ability to participate in communion, the Pope was less decisive, suggesting that bishops and priests should seek to be pastoral and counsel those who seem confused about Church teachings because a pastor’s responsibility does not end when an individual has been excommunicated or has excommunicated themselves by disagreeing publicly with core dogma.
“The problem is pastoral, how do we, as bishops, manage this principle,” Pope Francis said. “If we look at the history of the Church, we will see that every time the bishops acted not as pastors in a problem, they became politicians.”
“And what should the pastor do? He shouldn’t go around condemning. And he must also be a pastor with those who are excommunicated and be so with God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness,” Pope Francis said. “Those people who are not in the community cannot take communion, because they are out of the community. It is not a punishment: Communion is linked to the community.”
Pope Francis was responding to a question specifically about the U.S. Catholic bishops’ plan to issue pastoral guidance on the subject of denying communion to pro-abortion politicians. Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops determined, weeks ago, to compile the guidance, the issue has arisen more forcefully in recent weeks, with both Biden and Pelosi expressing support for efforts to overturn a Texas “heartbeat” bill that effectively outlaws abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy, when fetal cardiac activity can be detected.
Both Biden and Pelosi claim to be Catholic, but both openly support abortion, with Biden recently confirming that his thoughts on the subject have evolved from when he claimed, in 2012 to be personally against the practice.
Both Biden’s and Pelosi’s local archbishops, who would ultimately authorize a decision to deny them communion, have opined on the subject. Biden’s, Washington, D.C., Archbishop Cardinal Wilton Gregory, told reporters last week that the president “is not demonstrating Catholic teaching.” Pelosi’s, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, wrote in the Washington Post that “[y]ou cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings,” and suggested that excommunication could be on the table for Pelosi and other abortion-supporting Catholics.