The Rev. Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ (UCC) Minister, Takes Issue with the Request from Thomas Tobin, the Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, That Congressman Patrick Kennedy Refrain from Receiving Holy Communion Because of His Support for Legal Abortion

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The Rev. Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister, takes issue with the request from Thomas Tobin, the bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, that Congressman Patrick Kennedy refrain from receiving Holy Communion because of his support for legal abortion. "Communion shouldn't be used as a political weapon," Currie writes on his blog. "It's God's table. All are welcome." He then asks, "Why is it that pro-choice Democrats are denied communion when Roman Catholic Republicans who vote against children's health care, against foreign-aid to prevent hunger, against climate-change legislation, and for war--all positions contrary to Roman Catholic teachings--are ignored?" This is certainly a fair question, and it deserves an answer.

First, sections 2270-2275 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make clear the Church's unequivocal condemnation of abortion. "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person--among which is the inviolable fight of every innocent being to life," the Catechism states. "Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." The Second Vatican Council also condemned abortion as an "unspeakable crime."

Second, in 2004, a future pope addressed this very issue in a letter to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, then archbishop of Washington. Writing in his official capacity as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger said this: "For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. …