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Archbishop Naumann says he is ‘sad’ over Pope’s handling of Biden, Pelosi on abortion

AC Wimmer By AC Wimmer for CNA

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrates Mass Jan. 17, 2019, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

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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31 Comments

    • Nathalie, Pope Francis and Archbishop Naumann hcve one “boss” and He is Jesus, the Son of God. They are both by thier calling must teach, defend, and spread the commands and teachings of the Lord Jesus. If one is failing to do so or is causing confusion and disunity, then in brotherly love it should be pointed out.

      • Richard: We’re talking here of the Church’s polity. Bishops as a College serve and function “with” and “under” the Pope, “cum Petro, sub Petro.” The Archbishop like a few other American prelates (only in America!) who are openly and disloyally critical of the Pope should quit their post or be investigated/visited. They can look at the case of Archbishop Vigano who was mothballed and called back to head office for botching the 2015 U.S. papal visit. To CWR’s good judgment it has not propagated his weird conspiracy theories and unfounded accusations against the Pope in retaliation for having been sidelined in his clericalist careerism.

    • The Pope is very, very wrong because supporting, promoting, legislating and financing abortion is not a matter of choice of conscience according to Evangelium Vitae.

      The Pope is very wrong to say Bidens position is only “incoherent”. Biden’s position is directly opposed to and an attack on Catholic infallible dogma condemning abortion. Biden is a heretic against and infallible dogma condemning abortion in Evangelium Vitae.

    • Nonsense. It has nothing at all to do with being “happy.” It has EVERYTHING to do with the teaching of the Catholic Church and the pastoral care of the flock. To callously consign someone’s immortal soul to damnation by doing and saying nothing in the face of their support for the murder of innocent children is to compound the evil.

    • If you endorse the crimes against humanity by Pope Francis who directly promotes undermining the Church’s moral authority to condemn crimes against humanity, then you too support crimes against humanity. And the Pope is no one’s “boss.”

  1. Argument is given by those, and they’re not a paltry number, who despite their opposition to abortion either firmly believe [or harbor doubts of Biden’s, Pelosi’s guilt] Biden and Pelosi may be wrong, but are abiding to a conscience, formulated in such a way that absolves them from sin.
    Morality is determined by acts, what we do. If there is some mysterious conscientious proposition by which a man may commit cold blooded murder, kill the innocent man without just cause and be free of grave sin it defies reason. Example. Aristotle taught that the virtues are determined virtuous acts by a reasonable mean. That the mean of fortitude is somewhere between audacity and cowardice. However, Aristotle [Aquinas agrees with Aristotle on the virtues] held that justice, what is right, of all the virtues has no mean [or median]. There are no degrees by which murder is more or less murder. Which indicates there is in us an inherent capacity to apprehend with certitude that certain acts, murder, sexual acts with a child, false witness. Certitude of these acts is realized when major and minor premises are apprehended in one act of knowing. As simple as immediately knowing this act is murder, false witness, rape of a child.
    As regards abortion they’re are mitigating dynamics, fear, lack of knowledge ignorance is common among subcultures, extreme duress. The Church recognizes these although despite proponents of mitigation theory [John Paul II warned not to make mitigation a category] that cast doubt of grave sin on all abortions. Biden will say abortion is wrong, and similarly say it’s not. His rationale is we’re unsure when a human being is present in the womb, that Aquinas determined there’s a hiatus between conception and the presence of a soul. Nevertheless, he poses these opinions contrary to what the Church teaches, that human life begins at conception. The argument of ensoulment is frivolous at best and nonsensical at worst, because the notion of soul as understood stems from the Gk definition of anything that is self motivation. A plant was said to have a soul, as well as a grasshopper. We know with certitude that human life begins with conception. It really is not up to us to determine when that human life has rights in recognition that it is a human life, since that determination belongs to the Creator. It’s right to life starts with its life at the moment of conception.
    Biden rejects what the Church teaches which places him in the heretic category. Pelosi argues on the basis of hardship, undue burden [some canonists consider all pregnancy and birth an undue burden].
    Archbishop Naumann [it’s obvious why Naumann, Aquila, Cordileone are not cardinals] is taking the stand of reason that not all abortions are hardship cases to the degree that the woman who aborts might be absolved from grave sin. That the vast majority of abortions are frivolously decided, often for cosmetic reason or maintaining a lifestyle. The monumental number of abortions hang over the head of Biden [and] Pelosi like the Sword of Damocles.
    En effet. Francis in defense of Biden argues the case he makes in Amoris on conscience that inherently grave sin like murder of the innocent is not murder when we determine that it’s not.

    • Dear pastor and brother in Christ:

      Blessings and thanks. You strive to help Biden and Pelosi come to the knowledge of truth and peace with God. If they are unwilling to accept the teaching of the Catholic Church, what kinship do they have then? You are well acquainted with the following verses and yet, if someone struggles with their conscience, God always guides us to paths of righteousness. God will forgive us of all sins if we ask Him in Jesus name!

      Genesis 9:5-6 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

      Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

      Leviticus 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.

      Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

      Your fellow servant in Christ,

      Brian

  2. Plaudits to a bishop who has the courage to speak the truth to power. Would that we had a Church today where it wouldn’t be necessary to even single a bishop out for such courage.

  3. How these bishops cover for their abusive “pope”!
    Their excuses for Bergoglio are tragic.
    They are fools.

  4. “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.”

    It is so sad that you, Archbishop, was not aware of that statement made by Pope Francis. That was an important statement that was published in many good Catholic sites. And, by the way, it was not offered as a clarification. That is Church teaching. Yes, people who are not in communion with the Church should not receive communion. Hey Archbishop, Pope Francis would have received Pelosi and others because she is an American official. Even us laypeople know that.

    • COREECTION: What you write should read, “Even WE laypeople know that.” You see, “we” is in the subjective case and should be used for the subject of a sentence. However “us” is in the objective case, and you’ve used it wrongly.

      Parenthetically, you do realize that you castigate some here for admonishing Pontiff Francis while you have no problem admonishing Bishop Naumann. Both men are bishops, you know. Aren’t you a bit inconsistent? Or perhaps, to quote Pontiff Francis, aren’t you being “incoherent.”

    • Mal, the nature of evil is to combine itself with the good.
      It’s one thing to receive an American official, your point, but it’s another to combine such a courtesy with distribution and reception of the Eucharist. But, you are correct that Pope Francis’ statement “was not offered as a clarification.” It clarified nothing. Like stupidity, mere incoherence (as for Biden) is likely more of a hall pass than it is a sin. A new category, while moral theology remains about good and evil.

      • How can it clarify something, Peter, when it was not meant to clarify anything. It was a straightforward statement that reflects Church teaching. Secondly, where did you get the idea that Pope Francis combined his reception of Pelosi, mthe American official, with an invitation to receive Holy communion. That is a fabrication.

        • Who said “invitation?”
          My comment is “combine,” a combination that coherent popes or pastors would have acted to prevent. The issue is inaction. As for “Church teaching,” it might be that such teaching is above the level of whether something is incoherent or not. There’s even something in there about inaction or “sins of omission.” Pay attention.

    • It is so sad that you, Mal, are not aware that the statement made by Pope Francis is NOT Church teaching. If it were, Francis would have said that Biden’s position is a REPUDIATION of Catholic teaching and a spitting in the face of God, and not use a wimpy word like incoherent, a CONTRADICTION so grievance, so obvious a crime against humanity, as to warrant his excommunication, and he would have said it last fall when Francis called him “a good Catholic,” and it would have been a reoccurring theme for nine years that any Catholic in high office is obligated to oppose the principalities of mass murder and not serve as an instrumentality. Even laypeople who are not involved in personality cults know this.

        • Again, maybe the controversy isn’t even about “the teachings of the Catholic Church,” but rather about affirming the teachings, while then ALSO (are you listening?) creating a surrounding climate of ambiguity within which these teachings can be pastorally or synodally set aside. The issue is the “smoke(stacks) of Satan” and this new kind of “climate change”!

          Explaining this simple observation incisively to some readers is like trying to kill a deep-sea sponge with a needle, but let this internet discourse continue, because it does serve to clarify.

  5. The Church teaches now and always has that life begins at the instant of conception and lasts until natural death. This is not difficult to understand.

    The Church teaches now and always has that abortion is FORBIDDEN and always will be, in other words it is a mortal sin. THIS is not difficult to understand.

    So called ‘catholic’ politicians going all the way back to Kerry and Kennedy – remember Kennedy’s anti-Bork rant about “backyard abortions’ during the Senate hearings as far back as the 80s – have been openly defying for decades the very tenets of the faith they say they follow regarding this issue. This has been going on so long that it has, sadly, become the norm.

    Given this, Archbishop Naumann’s statement, while welcome, is a bit silly.

  6. “Sad” continues to well describe my response. However, Mrs. Pelosi is also a cause of sorrow, and I intentionally use her matrimonial title as that should be her primary vocation. I cannot envision a more pastoral figure—with her—than Archbishop Cordileone who provided her soul with thousands of Rosaries and white roses after years of petitioning her conscience to realize the error of her thinking and disconnect in her actions. It was appallingly condescending to suggest that Archbishop Cordileone’s ultimate declaration was not consequentially pastoral, as well.
    Then, how did Mrs. Pelosi respond to the Pope’s smiling encounter—she rebelliously rebuked him even recently, thrusting the same bitter uline about giving birth to five children (something the Pope could not understand). Incredibly, she remains blind to the enormous blessings God gave or permitted her,throwing the greatest possible one, co-creation, back in His Holy Face. (Now, granted even devout Catholic Moms, pregnant again, might look heaven bound and cry, really?, but they do not publicly resent this gift and use its perceived “burden” to justify tens of millions of abortions—up to birth, no less.)
    Yet, returning to Pope Francis, I also pray he emphasizes the need to protect the great pastoral work of crisis pregnancy centers—which neither Pelosi nor Biden have done—and most importantly speak of the right of persons in the womb to be pastorally delivered into Baptism and even their First Communion.

  7. Over 70 years of Catholic upbringing and teaching for both Biden and Pelosi and look what you get! That church needs to stop relying on human traditions and false teaching/interpreting scriptures to fit their narrative. It’s no wonder God has turned his back on this church.

    • Most of the time the fault lies with the individual, and NOT the church. I seem to recall Martin Luther disposing of 7 Books of the bible because they didnt fit his preferred theological narrative. The same books which had been accepted by Christians for 1500 years to that point. I would suggest that moves into “false teaching”. Or at the very least, the twisting of scripture. I see no evidence God has abandoned the Catholic Church. Although many are unhappy with Frances as its head.

  8. We need another St. Ambrose in the Church today to set the record straight on what the Church teaches, and whips everyone into shape.

  9. Even though the grammar is atrocious (i.e., “someone”, “that person”, “they”), the Archbishop does a good job of identifying hypocrisy when he sees it:

    “‘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.'”

  10. I think Abp. Naumann is right that Pope Francis doesn’t understand America, as he doesn’t understand the American Church. Yet he presumes to wade in. Whose job is it to enlighten him? Or is he as closed to insight as Pelosi and Biden seem/pretend to be?

  11. The collective Bishops authority to teach about the Eucharist at this point is the same as a known adulterer teaching about fidelity in a marriage.

    After approximately two years of starving their children telling us Walmart was more essential than Jesus Christ, trying to teach the faithful about the importance of the Eucharist just shows how collectively out of touch they are.

    We shouldn’t expect anything out of them at this point as they will collectively cave again for the next “emergency” with a 99% survival rate.

  12. “I think the Pope doesn’t understand the U.S., just as he doesn’t understand the Church in the U.S..”

    Kansas’ vote to protect abortion rights ironically shows that Archbishop Naumann is the one who doesn’t really understand the U.S..

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