Sunday, March 15, 2009
By ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH f. NAUMANN
As a Catholic priest, my life is dedicated to attempting to bring people to Jesus Christ. In our Catholic faith, we believe that Jesus makes himself uniquely present to us through our reception of the Eucharist.
Catholics, in receiving the Eucharist, profess their faith in the real presence of Jesus as well as their communion with His Church.
Catholics have a personal responsibility not to receive Holy Communion if they have with knowledge and intention committed a grave evil.
While I realize that most readers of The Star do not share my faith in the Eucharist, I share this brief description of Catholic belief to provide the context for my request that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius not receive Holy Communion.
As a bishop, it is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the sacraments as well as the teaching of the Church.
Many public policy issues have ethical and moral dimensions. Our Catholic faith offers us principles that guide our understanding of such important societal issues as immigration, war, health-care reform, etc.
While the principles are consistent for every Catholic, the determination of how to apply them varies.
However, there are some actions that, because they involve the destruction of innocent human life, can never be justified. A Catholic in good conscience can never support policies permitting abortion, experimentation on human embryos or euthanasia.
Catholics in public life who consistently support policies that permit these intrinsic evils not only damage themselves spiritually but also create scandal by leading others into error.
For more than 25 years, Gov. Sebelius has advocated and supported legalized abortion. She has opposed such modest protections as parental notification for minors, waiting periods, informed consent and improved regulation of abortion clinics.
In the hope to awaken her to the grave spiritual consequences of her own actions and in an effort to prevent her from leading others into error, it was my responsibility to request that the governor refrain from receiving the Eucharist.
Unlike the Church’s understanding of the Eucharist that depends on faith in a revealed truth, the Church’s defense of the sanctity of human life is based on human reason.
The Church has a moral obligation to stand with many other Americans of different religious persuasions in the defense of the most fundamental of human rights.
Obviously, the governor has the freedom to continue her past support for legalized abortion that has served her well politically. But she does not have the right, by her public actions, to attempt to redefine Catholic teaching regarding abortion as well as our understanding of the Eucharist.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which covers 21 counties, 111 parishes and 203,741 Catholics.