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Francis on communion for pro-choice politicians

September 15, 2021 GMT

STORY: In Air Pope Communion - Francis on communion for pro-choice politicians

LENGTH: 05:30



TYPE: Italian/Natsound



DATELINE: 15 September - In Air





In air - 15 September 2021

1. Pope Francis arriving in press area with Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni as journalists clap

2. Cameramen and journalists

3. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Pope Francis:  

“I have never refused Communion to anyone. No one. I don’t know if someone came who was in this condition. But I have never. Never have I refused the Eucharist. This is from when I was a priest. I responded to (your question?)…but I was never conscious of having in front of me a person like you describe. That is true. Simply, the only time that I had a bit something amusing is when I went to celebrate mass in a retirement home. We were in the living room and I said, ‘who wants to do Communion raise your hand.’ All the old men and the old women, they all wanted the Communion. And when I gave Communion to a lady she took my hand and said, ‘thank you, father, thank you, I am Jewish,’ I said, ‘no, ok what I gave you was Jewish too.’ That is the only strange thing. If the lady had told me first, but she told me afterwards.”


4. Photographer

5. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Pope Francis:  

“That person who is not in the community cannot take Communion because he is outside the community, this is not a penalty but (that person) is outside. Communion is inside the community, but the problem is not a theological one, which would be simple (to solve), but a pastoral one, which concerns how we bishops manage this principle pastorally, and if we look at the history of the Church, we can see that every time the bishops have managed a problem not as pastors, they have taken sides in political life, in the political problem. In order not to manage a problem, they have taken sides on the political side.”

6. Pope leaning over to hear question from journalist

7. Cameraman

8. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Pope Francis:  

“When the Church, in order to defend a principle, acts in a non-pastoral way, it takes sides on the political plane, it has always been so, just look at history. And what must the pastor do? Be a pastor and not condemn or not condemn, (he must) be a pastor. But (should he) also be pastor of an excommunicated person? Yes. He is a pastor and must be a pastor with him, be pastor with God’s style and God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”

9. Tilt-up of Francis during questions

10. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Pope Francis:  


“For me...I don’t want to talk specifically about the US because I don’t know the details well, I’m talking about the general principle. You can tell me ‘if you are close, compassionate and tender with a person would you give them Communion?’ That is a hypothetical, I reply.  You have to be a pastor and a pastor knows what he has to do at all times but as a pastor, but if a pastor leaves the pastorality of the church, he immediately becomes a politician and you will see this in all the non-pastoral condemnations that the Church makes. With this principle I believe that a pastor can act well.”

11. Photographer

12. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Pope Francis:  

“But always this condemnation, condemnation... already enough with the excommunication, please do not put more excommunications, poor people, they are sons of God, they are out temporarily but they are sons of God and need our pastoral closeness, then the pastor resolves things as the (Holy) Spirit tells him.”

13. Pope Francis leaving


Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic bishops must minister with “compassion and tenderness,” not condemnation, to politicians who support abortion rights and warned that clerics shouldn’t let politics enter into questions about receiving Communion.

Francis was asked en route home from Slovakia about the debate in the U.S. church about whether President Joe Biden and other politicians should be denied Communion because of their stances on abortion.

U.S. bishops have agreed to draft a “teaching document” that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including Biden, for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

Francis declined to give a “yes” or “no” answer, saying he didn’t know the U.S. case well enough.

Most importantly, he said, was that priests and bishops must respond pastorally and not politically to any problem that comes before them.

He said they must use “the style of God” to accompany the faithful with “closeness, compassion and tenderness.”

“And what should pastors do? Be pastors, and not go condemning, condemning,” Francis said.

Francis recalled cases when the church had held fast to a principle on political grounds and it ended badly, citing the Inquisition-era condemnation of Giordano Bruno for alleged heresy.

He was burned at the stake in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori.

“Whenever the church, in order to defend a principle, didn’t do it pastorally, it has taken political sides,” Francis said.

“If a pastor leaves the pastorality of the church, he immediately becomes a politician.”

Francis said he had never denied Communion to anyone, though he said he never knowingly had a pro-abortion politician before him, either.

And he admitted he once gave Communion to an elderly woman who, after the fact, confessed that she was Jewish.

But he was unequivocal that it cannot be given to anyone who is not “in Communion” with the church, though he declined to say if a pro-abortion politician was out of Communion.

U.S. bishops agreed in June that the conference doctrine committee will draft a statement on the meaning of Communion in the life of the church that will be submitted for consideration, probably an in-person gathering in November.

To be formally adopted, the document would need support of two-thirds of the bishops.


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