Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Would Sheridan Do?

Once upon a time -- maybe as many as three years ago -- Colorado Springs Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan told the world that politicians who supported legalized abortion should not receive communion.

He was one of many Catholic leaders who said so, and while he took it a step farther than many (he told parishioners who voted for abortion-supporting candidates that they, too, should refrain from taking communion), the issue was certainly an important sidebar in the 2004 presidential political campaign.

At the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger urged American bishops to use caution when threatening to withhold communion over hot-button issues.

But Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, now says the church is well within its rights to punish wayward politicians.

The issue popped up again, this time in Mexico, a predominantly Catholic country that just made abortion legal within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mexican Catholic leaders have been mulling whether to excommunicate the politicians that ratified the law. Benedict, who's visiting Brazil, indicated that, if they did excommunicate these politicians for their abortion stance, it was OK by him.

"Yes, these excommunications were not something arbitrary, but are foreseen by the Code (of Canon Law)," Benedict told the Catholic News Service. "It is simply part of church law that the killing of an innocent baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ."


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