Catholics In Congress Protest Pope's Comments On Politics

Some U.S. lawmakers have reacted angrily to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent condemnation of Roman Catholic politicians who support reproductive rights.

In early May while traveling to Brazil, Benedict was asked about Mexico City lawmakers who had recently approved legislation allowing abortion in some situations. Benedict suggested that Catholic lawmakers who supported such public policy may be excommunicated.

“Yes, the excommunication isn’t something arbitrary,” Benedict responded to a question, “it’s part of the code. The killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going into communion with the body of Christ,” The New York Times reported.

Later in the day, the Vatican issued a statement by Benedict that appeared to only reiterate his harsh observation.

“Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist,” the statement reads.

On May 10, 18 Catholic members of the U.S. House of Representatives challenged the pope’s comments.

“We are concerned with the Pope’s statement warning Catholic elected officials that they risk excommunication and would not receive communion for their pro-choice views,” the lawmakers observed. “The fact is that religious sanction in the political arena directly conflicts with our fundamental beliefs about the role and responsibility of democratic representatives in a pluralistic America – it also clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.”

Among the lawmakers signing the statement were, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.); Joe Baca (D-Calif.); and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).