It is one of the actions about which there is no ambiguity in Catholic teaching from the beginning of the Church (as in, it’s in the Didache, which is essentially the first Catechism). Catholics, those who follow the way of Life, are NEVER to participate in the action of abortion, either directly or indirectly. Such a move excommunicates, or puts the individual outside of the communion, latae sententiae, or “by the act itself.” That includes voting for its legality.
This is known inside the Church, but in modern times is rarely acknowledged to the public at large by the group with the loudest mouthpiece among Catholics: the bishops. The bishops, as a group, shy away from too much publicity on abortion other than claiming the pro-life high ground. Why this is the case could well have to do with the politicization of abortion, and the reality that excommunication has been used as a political tool over the centuries. However, the timidity of the Episcopate on this topic has raised the ire of one priest. And he has a blog.
Father Dwight Longenecker, however, is putting his foot down, demanding that Catholic politicians who voice their support for evils like abortion finally be expelled from the Church.
“Today is the day for their bishops to issue a formal statement acknowledging that these men and women have publicly denied their Catholic faith, and if not formally, then have informally excommunicated themselves,” Longenecker wrote in a recent blog post.
Longenecker points out that the politicians who support abortion do so publicly, warranting a public rebuke.
“Since their offense is public, it should be acknowledged publicly and their pastors should publicly rebuke them and deny them access to the sacraments,” he said.
“If the bishops and priests do not do this,” Father Longenecker added, “the faithful in their parishes and dioceses should rise up and blizzard them with letters, emails and the one thing that will really make them sit up and take notice: withholding their contributions.”
This particular rant is in response to 14 U.S. Senators who claim to be Catholic voting against the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, seeking to protect unborn children at 20 weeks gestation.” Father Longenecker wants those Catholics to be publicly rebuked at the very least. Excommunication does that, but it is supposed to be a pastoral remedy, where the person repents and returns to the fold. It is not meant to be a permanent means of “kicking someone out.”
However, Longenecker requests that the names of the 14 senators in question be publicized. Here they are:
Maria Cantwell – Washington
Susan Collins -Maine
Dick Durbin – Illinois
Kirsten Gillibrand – New York
Heidi Heitkamp – North Dakota
Tim Kaine – Virginia
Patrick Leahy – Vermont
Ed Markey – Massachusetts
Catherine Cortez Masto – Nevada
Claire McCaskill – Missouri
Bob Menendez – New Jersey
Lisa Murkowski – Alaska
Patty Murray – Washington
Jack Reed – Rhode Island
Catholics all over the country take note.
And…we also might consider what sort of society we have in the United States, all over the world, really, where women are subjected to this sort of violence.