The controversy over reception of Communion by supporters of abortion is ordered to helping all Catholics to grow in communion with Christ, the Bishop of Tulsa wrote to the faithful of his diocese on Friday.
“The failure to recognize Jesus as Lord is of particular pastoral concern to the Church, especially when we come to receive Him in the Eucharist,” Bishop David Konderla wrote July 16 in Lord, I am not worthy.
“In the final analysis, the focus of this whole controversy is not about denying people the Eucharist, but rather helping all of us grow in communion with Christ the Lord.”
In June, after extensive debate, the US bishops’ conference voted to begin drafting a document on the meaning of the Eucharist. The reception of Communion by pro-abortion politicians has come to the fore as both President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are Catholic and strongly support legal abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion.
With frequent references to Scripture, Lord, I am not worthy opened with Bishop Konderla’s appreciation of the story of Zaccheaus, who was an unrepentant sinner until “on the day he comes into the presence of Jesus Christ, he reconsiders his life and, by God’s grace … becomes a disciple.”
“I believe this gospel story sheds light on the current controversy regarding the reception of communion by people who support the evil of abortion,” he reflected.
“Our faith-filled reaction to being in the Lord’s presence [in the Eucharist] should be like that of Zaccheaus. We should possess a profound gratitude and joy because of His grace. We should be filled with humility and repentance because of His mercy. And we should have a desire to grow as His disciple because of His love. But can any of this happen if we fail to acknowledge the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist through our ignorance or refusal to believe His teachings?”
Therefore, the bishop wrote, “it makes logical sense that any person who supports abortion would also be indignant when told that they may not receive Holy Communion. The tacit approval of grave sin deadens the conscience and the ability to discern the presence of the Lord. They are a Zaccheaus who refuses to climb up in the tree to see Jesus.”
“And if a person does not believe they are receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, then it would be almost impossible for them to believe their commitment to such mortal sin would place their soul in eternal peril.”
In contrast to this attitude, he pointed to St. Paul’s statement in this first epistle to the Corinthians that “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves.”
Bishop Konderla wrote: “Now if a person professes to be Catholic and does not believe these things, then their reaction to being told they should not receive the Sacrament would be predictable, ‘How dare you refuse me!’ The denial of Eucharist would be considered rude or inhospitable.”
Yet Christ “teaches us that such a denial is actually charitable, intended for the salvation of a misguided soul who refuses to acknowledge the evil of abortion,” the bishop said.
“Ultimately, the point of this teaching on the proper reception of Holy Communion is to offer all people the opportunity to repent, whether it be for support of abortion or any other grave sin, so that when they come to the altar they are truly in communion with Jesus Christ.”
This instruction “is especially important for bishops,” reflected Bishop Konderla.
He taught that abortion “is an intrinsic evil, which is to say there is never a circumstance that could justify it. The laws that protect it are unjust and, therefore, no law at all. Roe was wrongly decided and must be corrected. It offends God and the principles of our founding, just as Dred Scott and its defense of slavery once did. We corrected that error, and now we must correct this one.”
The bishop explained that “a political leader is a public person. So, if a political leader who professes to be Catholic supports abortion, they become publicly complicit in a grave evil. If they become conscious of this sin, they should repent and not approach to receive Christ in Holy Communion until they reconciled with Him through the Church. But if they refuse to repent, their bishop should warn them that their support for abortion conflicts with the faith and places their soul in jeopardy. If they obstinately persist in their support for abortion, then they should they [sic] be denied Holy Communion as clearly taught in Canon Law and the Catechism.”
He emphasized that public persons “face great pressures and need our prayers. Just as the scriptures condemn the murder of the innocent in abortion, they also condemn hating or judging our brother or sister.”
“Christians are a people of hope, and we believe repentance is possible for all … Every day, mothers and fathers who have aborted children find healing through repentance, sacramental confession, and processing grief for the children they lost. And the same redemption is possible for those who support abortion now.”
“We are called to pray for our leaders who support abortion and do penance and fast for them so they might follow the way of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Konderla concluded.
“Let us pray and fast and do penance for those who remain blinded to the evil of abortion, so they too can discover the beauty of life, the love of Jesus Christ and find a new way to lead society. Let us hope they might recognize that abortion is not necessary for the flourishing of a society. If we are truly concerned about this issue, let us demonstrate it in our love and care through prayer, fasting and penance for an end to abortion and the joyful conversion of all who currently support it in public life.”