"This is a warning to Catholics, that they can't vote in favour of this and that they won't be able to receive communion unless they ask forgiveness ... They are in an objective state of sin".This is what Juan Antonion Martinez Camino (pictured right), the spokesman of Spain's Catholic bishops' conference, told a news conference about Spanish Members of Parliament who had voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available.
I'm in Sydney, Australia, for my son's graduation at Campion College where one of the guests will be Cardinal Pell, the redoubtable church leader who's known for taking a similar position on such matters.
Pro-lifers and pro-life strategists should never underestimate the significance of such statements for the following reasons:
- Such statements reflect accurately the gravity of voting to kill the innocent. We would not be surprised by bishops refusing Communion to politicians who would vote to kill bishops. Their refusal would reflect the seriousness of the politicians' sin in voting in such a way. The same is true of bishops' refusal of communion to politicians voting to kill unborn babies.
- Such statements have the effect of building a great campaign for life, called for in Pope John Paul II's great encyclical on pro-life matters Evangelium Vitae, 95, in which he said: "What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life".
As I said in my talk (also in Spanish and Italian) at the 4th World Congress for Life in Spain earlier this month:
"Here in Spain, the unity between the pro-life movement and your Catholic bishops on life issues is your greatest asset in your battle against your government's attacks on human life, marriage, parental rights and responsibilities, and the family. The loss of that unity would be the greatest threat to your pro-life and pro-family battle. The Church and the pro-life movement throughout Europe must learn from your example."