John Allen has a commentary on the pope's remarks in his always ambiguous press conferences after returning from a grueling trip, and at high altitude, especially this one after having had surgery on his colon and a few feet of it removed.
You can read the commentary here:
ROME – Pope Francis delivered another of his impromptu airborne news conferences Wednesday on his return flight from Slovakia, and, as ever, it was fascinating. In part, it confirmed the pontiff’s reputation for answering questions in a style that’s both carefully nuanced and practically imprecise, so that no one party to a debate ever is quite able to claim vindication.
Francis began by saying he’s never refused communion to anyone, adding a story about a visit to an old folks’ home as a young priest in which he asked if everyone wanted to receive communion. They all said yes, as Francis told the story, and later one woman came up to him and said (apparently in earnest), “Thanks, Father, I’m Jewish.”
The thrust appeared to be Francis distancing himself from turning anyone away.
Yet Francis immediately cut in a different direction, stating flatly that abortion is “murder” because a fetus’s organs are fully formed at three weeks and it’s a human life. Anyone who’s excommunicated, he said, by implication for participation in the crime of abortion, is outside the community of Jesus and thus cannot have communion.
On its own, that might sound like a green light for communion bans on Biden and other Catholic Democrats who uphold abortion rights.
Then Francis zigged again, first with a distinction between people who are “excommunicated,” apparently intending to mean definitively, and those who are “temporarily outside of the community” but still “children of God and need our pastoral action.”
He then introduced yet another distinction, this one between the pastoral and the political.
In a nutshell, he said that bishops must model the tenderness and compassion of God even in their dealings with people who are excommunicated, and that if a bishop abandons that path, he “becomes a politician.”
Weaving those points together, it’s reasonable to conclude the pope’s position is this: Abortion is murder, those who participate in abortion are at least temporarily excommunicated, and, as such, generally should not receive communion. However, a priest or bishop should not be the one to turn such a person away, because it risks turning what should be a compassionate pastoral response to failure into a political statement.
In other words, “no” to abortion and “no” to communion bans.
MY COMMENTS ON JOHN ALLEN'S LAST SENTENCE:
I don't agree. A public excommunication implies that a bishop has shown pastoral solicitude to the one who is excommunicated because the pastoral solicitude did not produce the results needed in the person's conversion to the truth. But once the person is excommunicated, the bishop must continue to bring the person back and then lift the public excommunication in a public way. Those publicly excommunicated should not be forgotten. Thus, I don't agree that the pope is saying "no" to communion bans. It seems to me that through the ambiguities and confused off-the-cuff thinking, he said yes, but be pastoral afterwards.
The greater problem with this pope is His Holiness' antipathy to Church/canon law. Obviously he degrades it and those who want to follow it by calling them "doctors of the law." Of course a doctor of the law isn't a negative epitaph but the manner in which the popes uses it, it is a slam, likes his words rigidity and the like.
Canon Law legislates the purpose of excommunication and how it is done, executed and lifted. FOLLOW THE LAW HOLY BISHOPS! Enough with opinions about this, that and the other.
As it concerns His Holiness' endorsement of civil unions, called marriage in the USA by the Supreme Court, he enables mortal sin and the giving of scandal.
There is no way that we can get that overturned and it would cause more acrimony than needed, but Catholics need to be told the truth about marriage and natural law!
His concern should be the souls of Catholics and their salvation. There, too, should be concern for the souls of others, but Catholics need to know that sexual relations in any kind of union that is not the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony or the Holy Bond of Matrimony for those where one or both are not baptized but the Church blesses that marriage, is a mortal sin. And to seek the state's public means to cement that mortal sin is particularly repugnant to God and Holy Mother Church. It is also a mockery of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony instituted by Christ It is not kosher to mock Christ and His sacraments.