WASHINGTON (April 23, 2004) -– Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement regarding the participation of Catholics in public life:
"Earlier today, I welcomed the publication by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of a new instruction on the Eucharist and liturgy entitled Redemptionis Sacramentum. It is the spirit of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council who initiated the Conciliar reform some forty years ago that inspires both this instruction and the extraordinary pastoral/liturgical initiatives of the Bishops of this country in recent years to assure the authentic celebration of the Eucharistic mystery.
"In the course of the presentation of the new instruction at a news conference this morning in Rome, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation, was asked about the reception of Holy Communion by politicians who have publicly advocated positions in opposition to the teaching the Church, including U.S. politicians. With regard to the latter, Cardinal Arinze stated, it is the responsibility of the bishops of the United States to deal pastorally with such situations as they exist here.
"Each diocesan bishop has the right and duty to address such issues of serious pastoral concern as he judges best in his local church, in accord with pastoral and canonical norms. To assist us in our common discernment, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has established a task force to discuss issues with regard to the participation of Catholics in political life, including reception of the sacraments, in the cases of those whose political advocacy is in direct contradiction to Church teaching. The establishment of this task force is a clear sign of the seriousness with which we take these issues and continue to consider how best to interpret and apply the norms of the Church in their regard.
"It has always been our hope and expectation as bishops that men and women in political life, whatever their religious convictions, would be guided by and live out the truth of the faith given them by God with integrity."