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US Bishops & the Sacraments

In June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the statement “Catholics in Political Life.” It this statement, they responded to the mounting controversy regarding the politicization of the sacraments by threatening prochoice Catholic politicians with sanctions.

“Catholics in Political Life” noted:

“Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that [the decisions to deny communion to Catholics in public life that support abortion] rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.”

In the spring of 2004, as the attempts to punish prochoice Catholics continued to hit the front pages, Catholics for a Free Choice ( CFFC) initiated a survey of all US Catholic dioceses that examined how the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and individual bishops treated Catholic politicians who openly expressed prochoice positions.

From our interviews with the dioceses and our analysis of recent diocesan statements, it appears that when it comes to dealing with Catholic politicians who do not vote as the church hierarchy wishes, bishops are forging their own path rather than pandering to the wishes of conservative Catholic organizations.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Catholics in Political Life,” Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 18 June 2004.

Frances Kissling letter
New research: US Bishops and prochoice Catholic politicians »
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US Roman Catholic Dioceses' Positions on Prochoice Catholic Politicians:


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