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Bill McFarlane wrote:

Hi, guys —

Recently a priest at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in West Warwick, Rhode Island refused to give Communion to state legislators who had voted in favor of a pro abortion law. They were also forbidden to fully participate in Catholic ceremonies like funerals, weddings, etc. The bishop did not make a comment but a spokesperson for the diocese indicated a parish priest is in full control of what happens in his parish.

I have been led to believe the current Pope does not approve of denying Communion to anyone.

Therefore my questions are this:

  • What is the official position of the Roman Catholic church on determining who is eligible to receive the Blessed Sacrament, and
  • Is this parish priest over stepping the ultimate authority — His Holiness, the Pope.

I look forward to your answer.


Bill McFarlane
In Vancouver, Canada

  { What is the official position of the Catholic Church on who can receive the Blessed Sacrament? }

Eric replied:


It is not true that Pope Francis does not approve of denying Communion to anyone.

The Code of Canon Law is very clear about several circumstances under which Communion must be denied, and the pope has done nothing to change canon law. For example, excommunicated people may not receive Communion. There is a canon that says that anyone who procures an abortion is automatically excommunicated. This has been widely interpreted to include those who make abortion possible, such as those who participate in the act and, some argue, those legislators who deliberately vote it in. Or, they could be included in the canon that refers to those who [are] obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin . . . (Canon 915).

Canon 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

I think what you may have heard is that the pope wants to admit to Communion divorced and remarried people who are working their way into regularizing their situation. This is a very specific case and is far different from admitting someone who is an adamant, pro-abortion activist to Communion.


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