There is an ongoing discussion within the Catholic Church as to whether Catholic Politicians who support abortion should be denied the Eucharist. As with anything associated with abortion, this is polarizing and very controversial. Like many Catholics, I believe that life begins at conception, and I detest abortion, but while many believe this is a binary issue I do not believe it is. As disciples of Jesus, we are asked to “love one another (John 13: 34)”, and to “not judge others (Matthew 7:1).” Today we tend to forget both of those charges mostly when it is convenient. Our God is a God who loves all people, and He asks us as His disciples to do the same. That does not mean this is easy; following Jesus can be hard at times.
Several years ago, I felt it was important to dissuade those from considering abortion in favor of choosing life and adoption. Our local Knights of Columbus council would meet every Saturday morning at 10AM outside a local abortion clinic and pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy. I thought that was where I needed to be, and I started attending every Saturday. We often did not see people enter the clinic and when we did, some of us would pray louder to ensure God’s message was heard. The people entering the clinic often would not look at us, and I think that made us pray even louder. I sat down with a close friend of mine who is a Deacon in the Catholic Church and I shared my experience with him. I was surprised at first that he didn’t seem as supportive of the effort and when I asked why he said, “We don’t know what the situations are for people considering abortion. This is their journey, not yours. That does not mean we support abortion, but we must pray for and support those that are considering this very difficult decision. Does standing outside an abortion clinic help them to make this decision, or does it make the decision even more difficult?” I had not considered this. He was right. Again. I thought if I could go out and help save an unborn child then that is exactly what I would do. God asks us to love one another and to not judge others and here I was not following either. God’s way is the loving way, and it is our role as disciples to love everyone, pray for them, and to let God do His work through us in the manner He chooses. This was a very important lesson for me.
There is a faction within the Catholic Church that believes politicians who support abortion should not be eligible to receive the Eucharist. Again, this is a very polarizing subject and at times when this practice was enforced it was very controversial. Earlier in life I was one of those who believed this was the right thing to do. “How can they reconcile their positions as Catholics while supporting abortion? They can’t and should not be given the Eucharist.” Initially, I just simply thought they did not deserve it because of their positions, but as time went on, I began to think differently about this position after hearing and reading about how the Eucharist is “medicine”. Jesus himself in Luke 5 verse 31 says, “Those that are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” As sinners we are all “sick”. I have personally experienced the healing power of the Eucharist in my life by making me “one with God.” The Eucharist has changed my life and changes lives every day as people receive Jesus in the bread and wine. By denying politicians (and anyone else) who supports abortion the ability to receive the Eucharist we are denying their ability to get the “medicine” they need to be more like Christ. We are denying them Jesus. Jesus never denied himself to anyone in the Gospels, so who are we to deny anyone the ability to be in communion with God. This is not our place. God does His work through us. We do not make the decisions; we love, we forgive, we accept, and we pray for those to experience God and be healed. It is not our work to change the minds of those that support abortion, it is God’s work. We are the vehicles in which He uses to heal others as He has healed us.
For many years I thought these were binary issues. You were on the right side of the subject, or the wrong side. God changes people’s hearts and minds. He changed mine in recognizing that these issues are not binary and require love, compassion, prayer, and communion with God to heal us and others around very challenging situations. I ask those that feel this is a very straightforward issue to bring this to prayer and ask God to help us to think like He does and to see the situations like He does. I pray that God softens all our hearts and minds so we can “Love one another as I have loved you.”