Colo. bishop says Communion should be denied based on votes

Ballot for some politicians a sin, Catholic leader says

May 15, 2004|By David Kelly | David Kelly,LOS ANGELES TIMES

DENVER - In stark and dramatic language, the Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs has declared that anyone voting for a politician who supports same-sex marriage, abortion rights, stem cell research or euthanasia will be denied Communion in the church.

The next presidential election, Bishop Michael Sheridan said in a three-page letter to the diocesan newspaper May 1, will be one of the most important in history - "critical in the battle to restore the right to life to all its citizens, especially the unborn and the elderly and infirm."

While other bishops across the nation have said pro-abortion-rights politicians would be denied Communion in their diocese, Sheridan is the first to threaten voters with the sanction.

Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, is a Catholic who supports abortion rights. The archbishop of St. Louis has said he wouldn't give Communion to Kerry because of his political views. Bishops in Boston, Portland and New Orleans have agreed that pro-abortion rights politicians shouldn't take Communion.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called such politicians "dishonest" witnesses for Christ.

Sheridan's letter will likely have little practical effect because most people receiving Communion aren't quizzed about their political beliefs beforehand.

Still, it caused some consternation.

Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter, a Catholic who is personally against abortion, called Sheridan's statement tragic.

"Receiving the sacrament of Communion is the most significant and sacred ritual available to Catholics, so to withhold it is an extremely punitive measure," said Ritter.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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