A Catholic bishop in North Dakota recently gave an interview in which he gave some of the strongest comments yet from a Catholic Church leader on the thorny questions of what to do about Catholic politicians who support abortion.
Bishop Samuel Aquila makes it crystal clear he believes there is a process by which Catholic officials should confront pro-abortion politicians and that they should be “expelled” from the Church if they don’t back down from supporting abortion.
This was one of my strongest criticisms of Arch Bishop Donald Wuerl. At a critical time during the last election he refused to take a strong stand and defend church teaching as high profile "catholics" dismissed the abortion issue.
Responding to the question, “How should the Church respond to Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion,” Bishop Aquila says: “Their particular bishops can use the process of correction that is given to us in sacred Scripture, especially in Matthew’s Gospel. Our Lord tells us to speak to the person, and then take two or three others with us if he does not change.”
“If he still does not change, the Church can speak to him, which is done through the bishop. [The bishop] exercises the authority of Christ. Christ then says that if that person is still obstinate and will not change, treat them as a tax collector or Gentile. Expel him,” Bishop Aquila adds.
Far from delighting in throwing people out of the Catholic Church, Aquila said, “We do this out of love for the person, seeking his conversion. He needs to understand that the salvation of his soul is in jeopardy because of the positions he is taking.”
“Catholics are called to defend human life, particularly that of the unborn. The Church’s teaching is clear. If we don’t challenge public officials who reject this teaching, we leave them in their sins and confuse the faithful,” the bishop said.
My thanks to the bishop for consulting scripture in the matter and not just spouting some politically correct answer.
It remains concerning that church leadership is divided on this issues and does not seem to speak with a united voice on the matter. It's time for official clarification to come from Rome.