Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Catholic bishops should use “sympathy and tenderness” rather than condemnation to politicians who support abortion rights, such as US President Joe Biden.
The pope, who returned to Rome from Slovakia, warned that the leaders of the Catholic Church should not let politics get involved in the question of whether devout Catholics like Biden should be denied the right to receive communion when attending Mass.
But Francis refused to answer directly whether Biden’s communion should be rejected, as some American Catholic bishops demanded. Francis said that he did not know enough about the situation in the United States to give an answer.
The pope reiterated the church’s teaching that abortion is “murder.”
But he said that when discussing any problems they face, priests and bishops should act in a pastoral way, not in a political way. Francis said that they must talk to believers with “intimacy, sympathy and tenderness” in “God’s style”.
“What should the pastor do?” He asked back. “Being a pastor, don’t convict, convict.
The bishops of the United States agreed in June that their conference doctrinal committee would draft a statement about the meaning of the sacrament in church life, which might then be treated as a group at a meeting in November.
On the flight back to the Vatican, Francis told reporters, “The sacrament is not a prize for the perfect person,” but “a gift, the presence of Jesus in his church and community. This is theology.”
Part of the information in this report comes from the Associated Press.