May. 9, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Catholic politicians who vote for legal abortion are subject to excommunication, Pope Benedict XVI told reporters during a May 9 flight from Rome to Brazil.
Fielding questions from reporters during the trip, the Holy Father was asked whether he supported the Mexican bishops who have threatened the excommunication of politicians who voted to approve legalization of abortion in Mexico City. The Pontiff replied that he did.
"They did nothing new, nothing arbitrary or surprising," the Pope said of the Mexican bishops. "They simply announced to the public what is stipulated by the law of the Church."
Later the Vatican press director, Father Federico Lombardi, issued a statement to clarify the Pope's remarks. Father Lombardi-- who noted that his statement had the Pope's approval-- stressed that the Pope had not declared anyone excommunicated. The Mexican bishops had threatened but not imposed that penalty; thus, the Vatican spokesman said, there was no decree of excommunication for the Pope to affirm.
The thrust of the Pope's remarks, Father Lombardi said, was that politicians who support legal abortion should not receive Communion. The Pope was not declaring anyone excommunicated, he said, but the individuals who vote for abortion "have excluded themselves from Communion.