Q: There’s been a lot of discussion about whether the bishops’ teaching on voting is too nuanced, because it was used in all kinds of ways by all kinds of groups during this election, because it said Catholics are not single-issue voters. What do you think?
A: I think that most Catholics understand what the church’s teachings are and those voter guide things are always problematic but I think in general people understand. It was interesting, if one considers Massachusetts, which is so overwhelmingly Democratic, and 8 years ago Gore got 75 percent of the Catholic vote and four years ago, Kerry, who is Catholic and from Massachusetts, got 50 percent of it, so they lost 25 percent of the vote in four years, and I think a lot of that was the influence of people’s concerns about life issues and things like that. And obviously when you look at the differential between the way that Catholics who are church-going Catholics vote and those who are not church going Catholics, I think that the Catholics reflect the church’s teaching. Not as much as we’d like them to, but certainly this last election there were many other factors that intervened.
Q: You just alluded to the fact that many of the people in your archdiocese are Catholics who support abortion rights, including leading politicians, and both US senators. What is your position on whether they should present themselves for Communion, and whether you should be giving it to them?
A: The church’s teaching on worthiness for Communion and proper disposition is in the Catholic catechism, and it’s no secret, and I support that. There is perhaps a teaching where we have not done as good a job of late as we used to. When I was growing up, we would go to confession every Saturday, we would fast from midnight, there was much more of an awareness of the need to be spiritually prepared and in communion with the church and in a state of grace. Today I think we need to reinforce that teaching a lot. And once that teaching is better understood, then, I think, it will be obvious as to who should be coming to Communion and who shouldn’t. But until there’s a decision of the church to formally excommunicate people, I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people. However, whatever the church’s decision is, we will certainly enforce.
Q: Your position four years ago was that you did not want confrontations at the altar rail.
A: That’s right. We do not want to make a battleground out of the Eucharist.
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