Mexican Politicians Excommunicated over Abortion?

by Steve Ray on May 9, 2007

Ed Peters’ Latest Updates: For the rest:


 Pro-abortion politicians excommunicated, Pope says 

The Vatican press office has issued an important statement to clarify remarks by Pope Benedict XVI about Mexican politicians who voted to legalize abortion.

The Pope did not intend to declare the excommunication of the Mexican politicians, said Father Federico Lombardi, the head of the Vatican press office, in a statement approved by the Pontiff himself. Rather, the Holy Father was saying that these politicians had broken from communion with the Church, and should not receive the Eucharist.
Accurate reporting of the Pope's original comments, and Father Lombardi's subsequent clarification, has been hampered by translation problems and confusion between the canonical penalty of excommunication and the disciplinary act of denying Communion to those who support abortion.
We have amended our original CWN news report on the Pope's comments, to reflect our best understanding of the new Vatican statement.
– Phil Lawler
From my friend Dr. Ed Peters' Canon Law Blog: Legislating in mid-air? First thoughts: possible, but not likely.  

Responding to a reporter's question during his flight to Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI said that he supported the Mexican bishops' threat to take canonical action against the politicians who were involved in the effort to legalize abortion. The English version of his comment reads: "Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ."

Now, the very first thing to notice about this quotation is that, as reported, it is susceptible to the chronic confusion that wearies discussions of the ecclesiastical consequences for involvement in abortion: "excommunication" and "denial of the Eucharist" are not, not, not, the same thing. Understanding the difference between the related but quite distinct institutes of "excommunication" and "withholding the Eucharist" is a prerequisite for any productive commentary on the pope's remarks. 

Read the rest:

Latest Update from Ed: Exactly along the lines of my blog post earlier today. It is discussed here:

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