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Automatic excommunication for Joe Biden?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A friend pointed me to the article Pope Francis: ‘Abortion is more than a problem. Abortion is homicide.’ (published 2021-09-16 on lifeaction.com), which becomes another candidate in my new collection for the Liar King Award. It makes its readers believe that Pope Francis said Joe Biden was a case of automatic excommunication. Author Cassy Fiano-Chesser skilfully inserted her own sentence (the one in bold in the excerpt below, which the Pope did not say) between what the Pope said, in order to make it look as if these also were the Pope’s words. Excerpt:

Pope Francis spoke to reporters this week about the recent controversial discussions regarding denying communion to President Biden and other Catholic pro-abortion politicians. (…) Pope Francis continued, “(…) That is why the Church is so hard on this issue, because it’s a little like if she were to accept it, if she accepts this, it would be like accepting daily murder.” People who undergo an abortion, commit an abortion, or aid someone in getting one are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church, meaning they may not receive the Eucharist. But Pope Francis stressed that pastors should continue to minister to such people. “An excommunication is enough, please let’s not make more excommunications,” he said. “The poor people, they are children of God and they want and need our pastoral closeness. Then the pastor resolves things as the Spirit tells him.”

Automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication is indeed defined in the CIC of the Roman Catholic church. I lack competence and time for diving deeper into this, but my guts say that the job of a politician and president is to promote realistic steps from the given reality towards some ideal. We cannot validly say that Biden is “responsible” for the fact that the United States did not yet find an ideal legal answer for abortion.

Another author, Gerard O’Connell (americamagazine.org), wrote a better summary of what the Pope actually said during this flight: Pope Francis: ‘I have never denied Communion to anyone. O’Connell writes “It was a significant revelation coming at a time when a group of bishops in the United States are pushing to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians, including President Joe Biden. Francis appears to be sending a very different message—and it was not the only one.”