Pope to bishops: Handle Communion debate pastorally

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Slovakia to Rome yesterday (CNS/Paul Haring)

The debate about denying Communion to politicians who support abortion must be handled in a pastoral way, not by public condemnations that seek to “excommunicate” Catholics not in line with Church teaching, Pope Francis said. Source: CNS.

During his return flight from Bratislava, Slovakia, yesterday the Pope said that while there is no question that “abortion is homicide,” bishops must look take a pastoral approach rather than wade into the political sphere.

“If we look at the history of the Church, we can see that every time the bishops did not act like shepherds when dealing with a problem, they aligned themselves with political life, on political problems,” he said.

The Pope told journalists that when defending a principle, some bishops act in a way “that is not pastoral” and “enter the political sphere.”

“And what should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd. Not going around condemning,” the Pope added. “They must be a shepherd, in God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”

The Pope said that he preferred not to comment directly on the issue of denying Communion in the United States “because I do not know the details; I am speaking of the principle” of the matter.

The Pope was also asked about his recent public service announcement in August encouraging people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and whether his statement that “vaccinations are an act of love” would alienate Catholics who are sceptical about taking the vaccine.

Pope Francis said he found “a little bit strange” because “humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines”.


Pope: Bishops must handle Communion debate as shepherds, not with censures (By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS)

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