Thursday, June 10, 2004

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted - Diocese of Phoenix, AZ 

Catholic politicians who unambiguously support a woman's right to choose should not receive communion, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said Wednesday. But he declined to say he would deny communion to politicians who do not follow church teaching on abortion.

Asked directly about what he would do if Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president who is a Catholic and supports abortion rights, came to him for communion, the leader of the Diocese of Phoenix said, "I would hope that would not happen."

"If he asked about it," he said, "I would tell him he should not receive communion."

Olmsted, who met with The Arizona Republic editorial board on Wednesday, also said that his role is to continue to teach politicians and other Catholics about the church's position.

"We need to be in conversation for as long as possible to help people see the contradiction in their lives, that (support for abortion) is bad for them and a scandal for others. There could be a stage where we go farther, but we haven't reached that stage."

Asked if he could understand a politician who says he opposes abortion but also opposes government intervention in the matter, Olmsted said, "I would want to see what else they have to say, but it is hard to understand that language. There is something not genuine, something untrue, something dishonest in it. It may not be culpably dishonest.

"We all have times when we do not connect the dots, but the dots are there. How can I be opposed to something, but not oppose it?"

He said the same restrictions on communion would apply to others, including people who have divorced and remarried. "Anyone who says they are a Catholic but is living contrary to that should not receive communion.

Source: Bishop cautions politicians, Michael Clancy. The Arizona Republic Jun. 10, 2004 12:00.