Pro-Abortion Politicians and Holy Communion

The topic of whether pro-abortion politicians who identify as Catholics should be receiving Holy Communion, and what kind of action should be taken regarding them, has been receiving increased attention in the Church, and this will continue to happen in the foreseeable future.

In their November 2021 meeting, the US Bishops voted on and issued a document about the Eucharist. That document is here. The document makes it clear that pro-abortion politicians should refrain from receiving Communion, for the sake of avoiding scandal, and that bishops have a responsibility to deal with such situations.

This was not the first time the bishops’ addressed these issues in their meetings.

In June the US Bishops addressed this question at their semi-annual meeting.

Recently, Cardinal Ladaria of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to the US Bishops’ Conference in regard to this topic. His letter, which you can read here,, provides some important doctrinal context both for us, for the bishops, and for the politicians themselves.

It seems to us here at Priests for Life that long before disputes regarding canonical discipline are discussed, renewed efforts at teaching and reading (again, by us, by the bishops, and by the politicians) are in order. Cardinal Ladaria refers to a key 2002 Vatican document, and says this needs to be a guide both for the politicians and for the bishops. That document in turn is based on other key documents, and all of these need to be read, digested and taught.

We provide here some key links:

Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (CDF, 2002)

The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II, 1995)

Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics (US Bishops, 1998)

Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem, Second Vatican Council)

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council)

Fr. Frank Pavone: Ten Points to Understand About the Issue of Pro-Abortion “Catholic” Politicians and Communion [Order Brochure]

Some of the key themes that come across in these documents are:

The change brought about in both the spiritual and temporal order by the fact that the Kingdom of God has broken into our world and our lives with its transforming power, enabling us to know the truth and love the Lord and our neighbor

The existence of an objective moral law that can be known and that needs to be followed both in public and private life

The need for followers of Jesus to submit to his Lordship and bear the fruits of holiness in all dimensions of their lives, public and private, without exception

The duty of the followers of Jesus to reject moral relativism and moral agnosticism

The need for coherence between the faith one professes and the choices one makes in life

The coherence of Catholic teaching as a single, living organism, not subject to picking and choosing one part over another but rather requiring acceptance of the entire gift of truth in the person of Jesus Christ

The foundation of social justice and the rights of the human person in the fundamental good and right to life itself, the condition for all other personal rights

The duty of the Church to pass moral judgment, even in matters relating to politics, when the fundamental rights of the human person and the salvation of souls requires it

The bishops may be well advised to give pro-abortion Catholic politicians in their dioceses a reading list of these documents, pointing out that the politicians’ engagement in a serious study of what the Church is saying here, and a subsequent, substantial dialog on the same, would be an excellent sign of their good will and their recognition that this is a serious issue that demands attention, engagement, and resolution.

We at Priests for Life will be playing our role in this process, both in teaching, and in dialogue with religious and political leaders.

We provide below a number of other relevant resources.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone announced the release of his first pastoral letter in May 2021. Titled “Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You,” the letter focuses on the dignity of the unborn, the reception of Holy Communion, and the responsibilities of Catholics in public life….

In the Q&A that accompanied the Letter, Archbishop Cordileone said he wrote it because he felt the need to “make a clear statement of the moral gravity of abortion and the basic principles that should guide Catholics, both private citizens and those who have a role in public life.”

The letter is … available to read or download at Also at that location are explanatory resources, including the Q&A and an Executive Summary, and an opportunity to subscribe to receive notice of upcoming related events.

You can also read the letter here in English or Spanish.

Fr. Frank Pavone's interview with Bishop Thomas Daly, Bishop of Spokane, WA [Read the Transcript]

Fr. Frank Pavone's interview with Bishop Joseph Strickland, Bishop of Tyler, TX [Watch] [Read the Transcript]

Fr. Frank Pavone's interview with Archbishop Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco [Watch] [Read the Transcript]

Fr. Frank Pavone's interview with Bishop Joseph Coffey, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. [Watch] [Read Transcript]

Fr. Frank Pavone's interview with Bishop James Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, NE. [ Watch] [Read the Transcript]

Commentary from More Bishops on the Topic of Pro-Abortion Politicians and Holy Communion

Response to Pro-Abortion Rep. Susie Lee of Las Vegas - Bishop George Thomas, Bishop of Las Vegas, February 2022

The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church - USCCB, November 2021.

Catholic Politicians and Non-Admittance to Holy Communion - Cardinal Raymond Burke (October 2021)

Pastoral Statement of Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI: Pope Francis Says: "Abortion is the death penalty for the unborn."(June 2021) [Transcript of Fr. Frank Pavone's Interview with Bishop Pfeifer] [Watch the interview]

Enter the narrow gate to receive the Eucharist - Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Denver (July 2021)

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke weighs in on 2020 Dems, calls out Biden, Harris (August 2019)

Bishop Paprocki: Illinois Catholic lawmakers who promoted or voted for extreme abortion legislation are not to receive Communion (June 6, 2019)

Bishop Daly of Spokane Taking a Firm Stance Against Giving Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians (February 01, 2019)

Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion - Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (August 2008)

Catholic leaders react to Biden pick; Bishops say he should refrain from Communion (Catholic News Agency, 8/2008)

Cardinal Arinze comments on pro-choice politicians and Holy Communion (November 14, 2005)

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History -- Bishop Rene Henry Gracida - October 2004 [PDF]

Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion Archbishop Donoghue, Bishop Robert Baker and Bishop Peter Jugis (August 2004)

Bishop Peter Jugis explaining in a sermon why he signed a recent statement barring pro-abortion Catholics from communion (August 8-9, 2004)

Statement by Bishop John Yanta regarding politicians and communion (July 18, 2004)

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger(July 2004)

It’s a matter of honesty: to receive Communion, we need to be in communion Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. (May 24, 2004)

Response to Arizona Republic Article: "Bishops won’t link politics, Communion" Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted (May 21, 2004)

Public dissenters should themselves refrain from Communion Archbishop John Vlazny (May 6, 2004)

A Time for Honesty - A Pastoral Statement Archbishop John Myers (May 5, 2004)

Politicians and Communion Bishop Thomas Wenski (May 3, 2004)

In an open letter, Fr. Pavone urges U.S. bishops to defend Catholic Church, unborn against pro-abortion lawmakers. (August 2021)

Commentary from Fr. Frank Pavone and the Priests for Life Pastoral team on the Topic of Pro-Abortion Politicians and Holy Communion

Homily on the Scandal caused by pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians

Joe Biden “Should Refrain” From Receiving Communion Because of His “Radical Support for Abortion” (, November 17, 2021)

As bishops consider what to do about pro-abortion politicians and communion, Father Frank Pavone gives his take on Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis. (, November 15, 2021)

Catholic Joseph Biden and his Administration are International Evangelists for Abortion and the New Sexual Revolution. Is Denying Biden Communion “Weaponizing the Eucharist?” (Kevin Burke, July 2021)

In battleground states, Catholics are a pivotal swing vote (Associated Press, 9/22/2020)

Top US pro-life priests: ‘No Catholic can vote for Joe Biden’ (, 7/24/2020)

Lightning rod anti-abortion priest leads Trump effort to win Catholics in 2020 (Washington Examiner, 4/24/2020)

Father Pavone thanks fellow priest for denying communion to Joe Biden (Press Release, 11/29/2019)

Pastor’s refusal of Communion to Biden in South Carolina sparks lively discussion (The Catholic Post, 11/8/2019)

Why Biden being denied Communion is a big deal for people of faith (, 11/1/2019)

Catholic Politicians, Abortion and Communion with the Unborn (Catholic Online, 3/11/2019)

Catholic Politicians Supporting Abortion Up to Birth Should Not Present Themselves for Communion (LifeNews, 3/7/2019)

Bishop Paprocki is completely right to deny Communion to pro-abortion Sen. Dick Durbin (LifeSiteNews, 2/27/18)

Letter to Nancy Pelosi (6/18/2013)

Letter to Joe Biden

Pro-abortion politicians should not receive Communion, says pro-life priest group (Catholic News Agency, 4/2004)

An Urgent Message for Lawmakers, Voters, and Those Running for Public Office (Text of NY Times ad 2000)

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