Catholic Bishops Meet To Consider Penalties Against Pro-Gay Politicians

Tue. June 15, 2004 12:00 AM by

Englewood, Colorado - Roman Catholic bishops from across the country meet this week in Colorado to consider what sanctions, if any, they should impose on candidates who do not follow church teachings on gay marriage and abortion.

The meeting comes just days after President George W. Bush met with the Pope and called on the Pontiff to encourage bishops to take a hard-line stand on same-sex marriage. Bush reportedly implored the Pope to increase Catholic condemnation of gay marriage in the weeks leading up to the election.

Bishops are divided on what punishment should meted out to Catholic politicians who do not support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage or would approve of civil unions.

The most important of these is John Kerry. The Massachusetts senator who will face Bush in November opposes the proposed amendment but supports civil unions.

Some bishops already have told Kerry not to come to churches in their dioceses because he will not be given communion. In April Kerry met with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Washington archbishop heading the task force examining church sanctions. At the end of the meeting neither would say what was discussed.

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, who has already refused to give communion to members of a gay Catholic group, is reportedly supporting a ban on the Sacraments to politicians who support gay issues.

Last month, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Colorado Springs said any Catholic who votes for politicians who do not oppose same-sex marriage, abortion rights, stem-cell research, or euthanasia may not receive Communion until they recant and repent in the confessional.

Bishop Michael Sheridan later softened his tone saying that rather than the church refusing them communion they should voluntarily abstain from the rites of the Church, after his Archbishop suggested in a pastoral letter that he opposed blanket sactions.

Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver said that he would be reluctant to prevent Catholics from receiving the sacrament.

Chaput said communion should be withheld only in "extraordinary cases of public scandal."
©® 2004

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