Pope threatens excommunication

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Pope threatens excommunication
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 5:13pm


Pope's excommunication comments cause stir in Church

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -
Pope Benedict's mere utterance of the E-word, excommunication, when talking about Roman Catholic politicians who support abortion has caused a stir in the Church and could strengthen the hand of conservatives.

The Pope gave his backing on Wednesday to Mexican Church leaders who have threatened to excommunicate Catholic lawmakers for voting to legalize abortion on demand in Mexico City.

He said "this excommunication" was not an arbitrary decision but one foreseen by the Church. "The killing of an innocent human baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ," the Pope said in a news conference aboard the plane taking him to Brazil for a five-day visit.

Vatican spokesman later tried to downplay the remarks, saying the Mexican bishops had not excommunicated anyone and neither was the Pope doing so nor threatening to.

But experts said the Pope may have seized the opportunity to send a message.

"What seems to be clear is that the Pope personally thinks that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive communion," John Allen, author of several books on the Catholic Church, said on Thursday.

"This clearly emboldens bishops who have taken a hard line against Catholic pro-choice politicians but it remains to be seen if there will be a disciplinary follow-through or whether individual bishops still decide who can receive communion," Allen said.


The Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is killing.

Church law says excommunication is self-inflicted by anyone who "procures" an abortion. While this has traditionally been interpreted to mean the woman and the person performing the abortion, there has been recent debate on whether this should be extended to those who help her or legalized it.

During the 2004 presidential election, the U.S. Catholic community was split over whether to support Democratic candidate
John Kerry, a Catholic who backed abortion rights.

Some Catholics say they would not have an abortion but feel obliged to support a woman's right to choose.

The same issue now haunts the campaign of former New York
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a pro-choice Catholic, in his bid to be a Republican presidential candidate.

Conservative Catholics were thrilled to see the Pope simply use the word excommunication.

"Catholic politicians who think they can remain part of the Church after supporting abortion are putting a lie on top of the original offense against justice," said George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington and a leading American Catholic theologian.

The Vatican's official transcript of the Pope's comments did not fully correspond to his original words. It eliminated the "yes" in his initial response to whether he supported the excommunication threats as well as references to the Mexican bishops. Other changes were also made.

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was customary for the Vatican's Secretariat of State to "review and clean up" the Pope's unprepared remarks ahead of publication.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-18-2005
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 6:26pm
What else would he say? He is Catholic. He is not going to support abortion.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-15-2005
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 6:38pm
It's not up to him to threaten and bully the politicians of the world to follow his particular goose-step - especially those in a representative form of government. Much as he may not like it, the world is not a theocracy under his domain.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 7:46pm

Thank "God" for that. If the Catholic Church wants to insert itself in politics in such a manner as the Pope has indicated, then they should be stripped of their non-profit tax shelter status and pay taxes like the rest of society.

Their beliefs belong in their parishes, and not in the medical decisions of private citizens.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2003
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 9:12pm
amen! i couldn't have said it any better! i just love how the catholic church decides who's fit for communion and what not! jesus never turned anyone away. He even washed the feet of mary magdelene who was a woman and a prostitute at that but i'm sure she wouldn't be welcomed in the catholic church. i should stop now before i say how i really feel :)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-18-2005
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 9:17pm

I am not seeing how he is bullying them. It is pretty commone knowledge in the Cahtolic religion that abortion is a sin. A political, public figure who is openly Catholic and supports abortion is going to get flak from the church.

I fully admit that being pro-choice is compeltely against my religion. I do not expect the church to change it's basic foundation b/c I thin it s wrong. If I do not like it, I can leave the church.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-18-2005
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 9:18pm
A politician should not be using religion in their platform. If they want to use religion, than they are opening themselves up to criticism. You canot proclaim you are Cahtolic and than turn around and support abortion laws.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2007
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 9:23pm
Ain't religion grand?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-18-2005
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 9:24pm

Are you Catholic?

That is my absolute biggest pet peeve about religious discussions. In one breath you are stating that the Catholic church does not have the right to judge or turn people away but your whole paragraph is completely (and wrongly) judging a church you do not even belong too.

You have NO clue to what you are talking about. I know plenty of people who are happily received at communion and in the church who have very "sketchy" backgrounds. Do not presume by falling into the stereotypes about Catholics that you know about my religion. I could easily presume that all Christian groups are fanatical, bible thumping, hateful people by the few you see on TV or in the news. However, I know enough about religion to know that basics of Christianity. I would not ever judge someone else for their religious beliefs.

No, you cannot go out kill someone and go to communion. You need to ask for forgiveness first. You can do it with the priest or yourself. Personally, I hardly ever go to confession. But, I go to communion every week.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Thu, 05-10-2007 - 10:20pm

"You canot proclaim you are Cahtolic and than turn around and support abortion laws."

You absolutely can. There is a clear distinction between Church and State. There are obligations to each, and one not need infringe on the other if we are to have a free and democratic society. We have purposely set up a secular governmental system in the west in order for us as a society to have freedom of association and freedom of religion. One of the pivotal reasons many settlers came to north america was to be free of religious oppression, thus such a separation.

If any church, not just the RCC, were to give such ultimatums, it is no longer in the realm of its religious ideals within the church, its now entering the foray of politics - and it is clear in the law that in order to be considered for tax exemptions, the organization using such a shelter shall refrain from campaigning for a political cause as the RCC has done in recent years. It is trying to use it's clout to bully politicians to vote on the basis of religion and not public policy.

Public policy is for ALL people, and I am not in the minority who takes great exception to this.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 05-11-2007 - 12:00am

OT but felt should correct this:

Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. The first mention of her in the new testament is in Luke when she is mentioned as one of those who helped Christ monetarily. This book also tells the story of 7 demons cast out of her by Christ. Other Biblical references to her are of her waiting at the foot of the Cross with other women (including his mother), helping take down and prepare the body for burial, and of course her finding him after he had risen from the dead.

The prostitute to whom you refer is also mentioned in Luke, though earlier (in Chap. 7). She is unnamed. If this individual and the Mary of Magdalene were the same person, wouldn't Luke have said so when he later mentions the Magdalene as one of Christ's backers? The reason that some do mix them up is that in Mark it is implied that Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha, was a sinner and acted much like Luke's prostitute upon meeting Christ. However, it should be noted that Mary Magdalene was NOT from Bethany, but from Migdal.

In fact, the earliest mention of Mary Magdalene as sinner/prostitute goes only back to the 3rd Century writer, Hippolytus in his Commentary on Song of Songs.

I find it quite interesting that many Protestant sects still hold to a belief that really was a fabrication of the RCC scholars and Popes, quite likely developed to discredit the veneration of a women who many believe was instrumental in the growth of Christianity.