Denying Communion Smacks of Politics, Not Theology

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Interfaith Alliance Says Religious Standing of Politicians is Private Matter

Washington, DC – The Interfaith Alliance criticized Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke for publicly declaring that presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani should be denied communion because of his stance on abortion. Archbishop Burke, who heads the diocese of St. Louis, gained significant media attention during the 2004 presidential election when he said he would deny communion to Senator John Kerry, who is Catholic, based on his public position on abortion. Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

A candidate’s faith is a personal matter, not a political football or a wedge to be used to separate and divide people. The Catholic Church has the right to deny communion to any of its parishioners based on any of its theological tenets, but that decision should be a private one between a priest and his parishioner. When an Archbishop tells the media that all Catholic priests should deny communion to a Catholic politician based on his/her policy positions, it politicizes religion. Considering Archbishop Burke has no pastoral relationship to Mayor Giuliani, this move seems more geared towards stirring up a media frenzy than assessing Mayor Giuliani’s standing within the Church.

The United States is one nation with many faiths. In a multi-faith nation, all elected officials are sworn to defend the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom from religion for all Americans. Elected leaders are obligated to represent all of their constituents, not just those who share a similar faith tradition.