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Waiting on the Past

With his eloquent corrective to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (see the preceding New Oxford Note), San Francisco’s Archbishop George Niederauer has joined a small but growing number of U.S. bishops who have become increasingly outspoken regarding the scandal of Catholic politicians who openly flout Church teachings, especially that against abortion. But a consensus among U.S. bishops on how best to address this high-profile problem has yet to be reached.

Two more bishops recently weighed in on what measures are appropriate to take against pro-abortion Catholic politicians who refuse to take instruction from the Church. Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer told Life­Site­News.com (Jan. 26) that “bishops have a moral obligation to stand up for the Church’s teaching,” especially in response to Catholics who have engaged in “a broad and public consistent denial of our Church’s moral position” regarding the right to life. Bishop Gainer stated that he and his brother bishops “have been patient enough” with politicians like Pelosi and her ilk, and that “something should be done.” Though what is to be done, he acknowledged, must be decided by her local bishop, George Niederauer.

LifeSiteNews.com (Feb. 18) also asked Boston’s Sean Cardinal O’Malley whether denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is a measure he approves. “I think that the only way that that solution should be invoked is if there were a large catechesis or if it was universal for the whole Church,” either in the form of a papal directive or a clarification of canon law. “I wrote to him [John Paul II] and asked him to please give us a very clear direction on how to deal with politicians who will be pro-abortion and will be Catholic,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We have not had the kind of clear response that we need.”

A uniform policy would surely be helpful. But do we really need to sit on our hands and wait for something the Vatican has already given us?

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