Catholic politicians who back abortion, even reluctantly, bear a greater responsibility before God than do women who undergo the procedure, Vatican leaders said. The question of whether they should be excommunicated is open to debate, they suggested.
The leaders made their comments at a news conference in Rome after the release of Pope John Paul II's new encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). The 194-page document brands abortion and euthanasia as evils that no law can justify. It called for active nonviolent opposition to both. It also condemned contraception and the death penalty.
The encyclical dismissed claims by politicians who say they oppose abortion but are compelled by their position to uphold laws allowing it. Politicians cannot renounce their consciences when they take on legislative duties, the Pope said. Critics accused the Pope of encouraging widespread civil disobedience, in contradiction of biblical teachings.
Reprinted by permission from National and International Religion Report.