How organized religion stays in and out of politics: Pope Weighs In on Calls to Deny Communion to Biden Over Abortion

Source: New York Times

By Elisabetta PovoledoRichard Pérez-Peña and Ruth Graham Sept. 15, 2021

ROME — Pope Francis weighed in on Wednesday on a debate roiling the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, where conservative bishops are pushing for guidelines that would deny communion to politicians, like President Biden, who support abortion rights.

“I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” Francis said, though he added that he did not know of any instance when such a politician had come to him for communion.

Bishops, the pope said, should be pastors, not politicians.

It was the closest the pope has come to addressing the issue head-on, although the Vatican in June warned conservative U.S. bishops to drop their push to deny communion to Mr. Biden, who is only the second Roman Catholic to be president.

On Wednesday, Francis left little doubt about his view.

“If we look at the history of the church, we will see that every time the bishops have not managed a problem as pastors, they have taken a political stance on a political problem,” he told reporters on his plane as he returned from a four-day trip to Hungary and Slovakia. He cited a history of atrocities committed in the name of the faith when the church became involved in politics.

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