Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 14, 2022 / 10:26 am (CNA).
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas says he is “sad” over the way Pope Francis has handled the controversy surrounding the pro-abortion actions of President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose positions on the issue are at sharp odds with the teaching of their Catholic faith on the sanctity of human life.
Naumann’s comment was one of several pointed statements he made on the controversy in an interview with the German newspaper Die Tagespost published Wednesday.
“I think the pope doesn’t understand the U.S., just as he doesn’t understand the Church in the U.S.,” the archbishop told the newspaper, according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.
“His advisers and the people surrounding him have completely misinformed him on this,” Naumann added.
In an interview with CNA on Thursday, Naumann stood by his comments to the newspaper, saying, “I said what I said.”
However, Naumann clarified that he spoke to the German news outlet prior to becoming aware of Pope Francis’ most recent comments regarding Biden, in which the pope referred to the U.S. president’s pro-abortion position as an “incoherence” in respect to his Catholic faith.
In the interview with Univisión and Televisa broadcast July 12, the pope said he leaves the matter to Biden’s “conscience,” but he also suggested that Biden discuss the conflict with his pastor.
“I wasn’t aware of that statement by the Holy Father and I do think that’s helpful,” Naumann told CNA. “It’s very helpful because I think that’s exactly true, that his position is incoherent with Catholic teaching. So I’m grateful for that clarification by the Holy Father.”
In his comments to Tagespost, Naumann said, “Of course we have to be pastoral” when dealing with such matters.
“However, it is not pastoral to tell someone they are a good Catholic and can receive Communion as a matter of course, when that person has committed a grave evil,” he continued. “The fact that the pope received Pelosi was politically exploited. In doing so, Francis is doing exactly what he warns others not to do.”
Though a Catholic, Biden has repeatedly supported abortion rights despite the Church’s teaching that human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception. After meeting with Pope Francis in October, Biden said the pope told him to “keep receiving Communion.” The Vatican has not confirmed Biden’s account.
Biden, the archbishop told the newspaper, “knows what is right in this regard. There is no excuse. He should not keep presenting himself as a devout Catholic.”
Through his behavior, Naumann said, the president was showing the public, “I support legal abortions and I’m a devout Catholic at the same time, so you can, too.” Naumann said it crosses the line when politicians “flaunt their Catholic faith and advocate such evil.”
“President Biden claims to be a devout Catholic, but it’s not really clear from his actions,” Naumann continued.
“In my view, he is using the rosary and his Mass attendance to portray himself as a faithful Catholic. If you look at Joe Biden’s career, you see that he followed the Democratic line, not the teachings of the Church.”
Last week Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting abortion access in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the U.S. Responding to Biden’s action, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, called the move “deeply disturbing and tragic.”
In recent years the U.S. bishops have discussed and commented on the issue of “Eucharistic coherence” at length, especially in regard to Biden and other American Catholic politicians.
Those discussions led to the publication in November of a new document on the Eucharist, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” and the launch of a three-year Eucharistic revival initiative, culminating with a national Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July 2024.
While the Eucharist document does not mention Biden or any Catholic politicians by name, it does reiterate the bishops’ prior guidance that Catholics who are not in communion with the Church’s teaching should not present themselves for Communion.
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