Photo by 'Zebra48bo,' Creative Commons License 4.0

Pope Francis today seemed to tell American Catholic leaders who want to ban Joe Biden from taking communion that they might want to cool their jets,or at least stop blowing so hard on their incense burners. Francis didn't directly take a position on whether Biden should be denied the sacrament because of his filthy pro-choice views, but he did suggest it's not bishops' job to be mixing up politics with their pastoral duties.

While flying back to Rome from a visit to Bratislava, Slovakia, the Vatican correspondent from the US Jesuit magazine America asked Francis about the controversy over whether pro-choice political leaders should be allowed to eat Christ incarnate in the holy host and wine. Since Biden's election, conservative Catholics have called, sometimes very publicly, for that to be a transubstantial issue in the Church.


Francis said that well of course abortion is "homicide," because no, he's never going to change on that, but also said bishops shouldn't be doing churchy stuff with politics in mind:

"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."

"A shepherd that doesn't know how to act in God's style slips and enters into many things that are not of a shepherd."

Say what you will about the Church's condemnation of women having control over their own bodies (and there's plenty to be said!), that admonition to separate church and state sounds fairly enlightened coming from the Bishop of Rome.

Francis also said he'd rather not be more specific on the question of denying communion to US Catholics who support the right to choose, "because I do not know the details; I am speaking of the principle" of pastoral duties.

When asked if he'd ever refused to give communion to a backslider like Biden or Nancy Pelosi, Francis seemed a bit taken aback at the very freakin' idea:

"No, I have never denied the Eucharist to anyone; to anyone! I don't know if someone came to me under these conditions, but I have never refused them the Eucharist, since the time I was a priest."

But, he added, "I was never aware of anyone in front of me under those conditions that you mentioned."

Francis reiterated a point he's made in his writings, that

"Communion is not a prize for the perfect," but rather "a gift, the presence of Jesus in his church and in the community. That is the theology."

Most of the rest of what Francis said was a lot more abortion-is-murder stuff that just makes me think less of him, so like any former cafeteria Catholic, I'll just say I liked part of what he said and ignore the rest because it's anti-woman garbage, so there.

But even with the condemnation of abortion as sinful, he also noted that even outright heretics who are "temporarily outside" the Church's teachings "are children of God and need our pastoral action."

So that's nice too, and we bet those words of grace and charity will pretty much quiet down the hotheads calling for Biden to be excommunicated for political reasons, because surely no bishop would allow mere politics to lead them away from their commitment to treating people with Christlike decency and forgiveness, right?

And I am Marie of Roumania.

As of blogtime, we are not aware of any calls for the excommunication of Pope Francis over his remarks, the end.

[America / Photo by 'Zebra48bo,' Creative Commons License 4.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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