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Ratzinger says he's one with the US bishops on politicians

Following a rash of news reports claiming the US bishops defied Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the question of withholding Communion from Catholic politicians whose actions conflict with church teaching on abortion, Cardinal Ratzinger has said the bishops' statement on the issue "is very much in harmony" with his recently leaked memo on the topic.

In a letter dated 9 July and made public on Monday by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger said the bishops' 18 June statement, Catholics in Political Life, "is very much in harmony with the general principles (of) 'Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.'"

Cardinal Ratzinger addressed his letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (pictured) of Washington, head of the USCCB's Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians.

Cardinal McCarrick said, "I am grateful for his support of our (USCCB) statement and I look forward to continuing dialogue between our task force and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

"Over the past several months, I have had many conversations and communications with Cardinal Ratzinger regarding the work of the task force, most recently last week," he said. "As I noted in the interim report I delivered to the bishops in June, His Eminence has consistently expressed his respect for the role of the bishops in carrying out their responsibilities as teachers, pastors and leaders in their own local situations."

When the US bishops met in a Denver suburb in mid-June, Cardinal McCarrick's task force presented an interim report of its findings on the issue of withholding Communion from Catholic politicians whose public policy positions conflict with fundamental church teachings on issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

The task force said it "does not advocate the denial of Communion for Catholic politicians or Catholic voters in these circumstances," but it acknowledged that in certain circumstances individual bishops might decide otherwise in a particular case.

Speaking as chairman of the task force, Cardinal McCarrick told the bishops, "The question for us is not simply whether the denial of Communion is possible, but whether it is pastorally wise and prudent. It is not surprising that difficult and differing circumstances on these matters can lead to different practices."

Cardinal Ratzinger says he, US bishops 'in harmony' on politics (Catholic News Service 12/7/04)

Card. Ratzinger supports US Bishops' document on Communion, no comment on Interim report (Catholic News Agency 13/7/04)
Italian prelate sees moral crisis in Western politics (Catholic World News 13/7/04)
Division among US bishops on sanctions for politicians (CathNews 30/6/04)
Communion: more feedback (CathNews 23/6/04)
Communion: What does Ratzinger really say? (CathNews 18/6/04)
Vatican hesitant on US Communion debate (CathNews 15/6/04)
Washington Cardinal warns against denial of Eucharist (CathNews 3/6/04)
US politicians warn of of anti-Catholic hate revival (CathNews 21/5/04)
48 House Catholics send warning to Bishops (MSNBC/Washington Post 20/5/04)
Catholics vote with wallets on bishop's Communion ban (Denver Post 20/5/04)
Florida Bishop Rebukes Pro-Abortion, Communion Receiving Catholics (Lifesite 18/5/04)
Michael Novak: A Pope & a President (National Review Online 18/5/04)

14 Jul 2004