Why didn’t the Irish Archbishops warn that Catholic politicians voting for abortion will be excommunicated?

The Irish Archbishops issued a statement in response to Enda Kenny’s government announcing it would legalize abortion on demand with the clause ‘if a woman is in danger of suicide’. The statement is powerful about the life and death issues facing Irish politicians:

‘The lives of untold numbers of unborn children in this State now depend on the choices that will be made by our public representatives. The unavoidable choice that now faces all our public representatives is: will I chose to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb in all circumstances, or will I chose to licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb?’

The Archbishops go on to explain that every politician must vote on this issue according to their consciences:

‘Moreover, on a decision of such fundamental moral importance every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society.’

This is only right and proper, reflecting a fundamental principle of the Catholic teaching on freedom of conscience. But the Archbishops failed to make clear the consequences of voting for abortion for Catholic politicians should receive a just punishment for harming public morals. The only just punishment for voting for abortion would be excommunication.

If Catholic politicians decide in conscience that they must vote for the murder of children in their mothers wombs then they must also live with the consequences, that they are no longer within the communion of the Church, this is what excommunication means.

Can 1369. A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.

Can. 1399 Besides the cases prescribed in this or in other laws, the external violation of divine or canon law can be punished, and with a just penalty, only when the special gravity of the violation requires it and necessity demands that scandals be prevented or repaired.

If a Catholic  incurs a latae sententiae excommunication for procuring an abortion then the just punishment for Catholic politicians who enabled the abortion should likewise be excommunication. If this obscene law enter the statute book, and Catholic politicians who voted for it present themselves for Holy Communion and receive communion from a priest or bishop the scandal caused in the Irish Church and beyond will be catastrophic.



14 comments to Why didn’t the Irish Archbishops warn that Catholic politicians voting for abortion will be excommunicated?

  • Karla

    Filipino Bishops have said they may excommunicate the Filipino president because of the RH bill

    Why do some Bishops in some countries say they will excommunicate pro abortion politicians and in other countries the bishops do not publicly say anything?

  • Your question has already been answered. Why did not the bishops warn? Because, as one explained to Pope Benedict regarding the abuse crisis, they don’t do that sort of thing post Vatican 2,they just do lurve…

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      I think we’ve come to the point that if a bishop, priest or deacon knowingly gives Holy Communion to an unrepentant Catholic politician who supports and votes for abortion, then the communion of the Church is scandalously broken. I am considering the possibility that I will no longer be in communion with that bishop, priest or deacon. How can I be? I haven’t come to a decision on this, just thinking about it. Deacon Nick

  • Lynda

    The bishops in Ireland have not until now ever spoken out strongly and unambiguously on egregious moral breaches by persons in the public square. For the most part they have left the prolife movement of the past 30 years fighting alone and unsupported, sometimes acting against the interests of the prolife cause. We have been very badly shepherded in Ireland for as long as I can remember. We continue to pray for the moral and spiritual leadership we are due from our bishops and priests. They have been no threat whatever to anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-family policies being implemented, often by politicians who claim to be Catholic and are treated as though they are in good standing. Meanwhile, those who are faithful to the doctrine of the Faith, have often been mocked and scorned by members of the episcopate.

    • Francis

      Good woman,

      if you have any more info on this excommunication, please send. If organise a meeting with your Bishop. That is one of the strategies from yesterday in Castlebar. The truth save lives.

      God bless with Mary,

  • Is it because they don’t believe that excommunication does anything because the Church changed in the 1960s?

  • Paul Smyth

    But Deacon Nick I am sure I have seen pictures of the Pope giving pro-abort Italian politicians Holy Communion.

  • Fiona

    All bishops have a moral obligation to point out the penalties of dissent over abortion (and other issues). And despite the fact that the credibility of the Irish bishops has been almost totally destroyed by the clerical paedophile crisis (and in many cases, such as ++Sean Brady, totally undeservedly so), they should still make the fact of the excommunications clear. Only good can come of this.

    And the public silence of the Northern bishops in regard to Mark Durkan’s zealous support of gay ‘marriage’ in Westminster is causing untold scandal. (Durkan (SDLP) recently had the temerity to described himself as a ‘practising Catholic’). The only truly positive sign is that increasing numbers of Catholic’s are now switching to the DUP, because of their unequivocal stance on abortion and marriage.

  • Michael Petek

    No, Nick, you will be in communion with the bishop, priest, or deacon, because both of you are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. But you can take forward a canonical judicial process either for procuring an abortion or for the heresy of professing that abortion is morally licit. The Catholic laity can also assemble and declare these politicians to be guilty of the high crime and misdemeanour of sedition against the inalienable rights of the human person. That is a political offence the consequence of which is a declaration that the individual concerned is unfit to hold public office.

  • Duc de Frebonius

    Quite simply Nick, They would be told of setting double standards. You didn’t issue excommunications to those who covered up abuse; why are you doing it now? I would believe that some of them may see excommunication as un-pc and would make the Church look even more bad in the public’s eyes. But, in the spirit of the season; how many in the Dail (Irish House of Commons) actually believe in God, how many know what the Church teaches.

    I remember a young Irish priest who refused to give communion, about ten years ago, to a married woman living with a partner; he received massive media attacks, and no support from his superiors in his diocese. So these pro abortion Mp’s say: Sure I can still receive communion, no priest will wish to be in the papers for doing that!!!

  • amator Dei

    So we believe in freedom of conscience, but say that those who exercise it in ways we disapprove of should be punished with excommunication. And if bishops don’t do this I can regard myself as out of communion with them. Is this Protestant individualism any different from the dissent you spend most of your time hunting down?

  • Karla

    Off topic

    ‘Being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse’: Latest incendiary claim made by atheist professor Richard Dawkins


    Atheists Say Richard Dawkins is an Embarrassment… and Troublesome

  • Karla

    Canon 915 allows exommunication of pro abortion politicians

    ‘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’

    In a letter to a US Bishop in 2004 on Catholicpoliticnas and Communion then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote


    ‘Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles

    1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).

    2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

    3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. 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. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    4. Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

    5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

    6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

    [N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]‘

  • Celia

    Amator dei: yes, we all have freedom of conscience. It is expected of Catholics that their conscience will be formed by those infallible teachings of the Church which all Catholics must believe. If you decide to exercise that freedom in dissent from those teachings you render yourself excommunicate.

    Priests- even the Pope- do not necessarily know this has happened (although you would hope that they would keep tabs on public figures)and in the USA, for example, many nominally Catholic pro-abortion politicians continue to receive communion. They will have to answer to God one day.

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