Bishop Aquila on Obstinate Pro-Abort Politicians: “Treat Them as a Tax Collector or Gentile. Expel them.”

School may still be out for summer, but in this interview with Catholic World Report, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND is unambiguous about what the rules for disobedient Catholic politicians ought to be:

How should the Church respond to Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion?

Bishop Aquila: Their particular bishops can use the process of correction that is given to us in sacred Scripture, especially in Matthew’s Gospel. Our Lord tells us to speak to the person, and then take two or three others with us if he does not change.

If he still does not change, the Church can speak to him, which is done through the bishop. [The bishop] exercises the authority of Christ. Christ then says that if that person is still obstinate and will not change, treat them as a tax collector or Gentile. Expel him.

We do this out of love for the person, seeking his conversion. He needs to understand that the salvation of his soul is in jeopardy because of the positions he is taking.

Catholics are called to defend human life, particularly that of the unborn. The Church’s teaching is clear. If we don’t challenge public officials who reject this teaching, we leave them in their sins and confuse the faithful.

Strong words, yes. But if we do not believe in and speak this strongly about protecting innocent life, how can we speak strongly about other important issues?

Also worth reading in the interview: Bishop Aquila explaining how he came to be so personally involved in the pro-life movement.



  • C D Rossini Jr.

    I think this boils down to if we as a Church think procured abortion is a serious sin. I would be very unconfortable with a professed Catholic leader taking a public postition in favor racism, in favor exploiting workers, in favor of repressing the right to gather for worship and not being publically corrected by a Bishop. If nothing is done, do we imply to society and Christians that advocating the killing of the young is OK?

    • scott s

      I don’t think most politicians are in favor of abortion. They are in favor of a woman’s right to make choices for herself. Similarly, I don’t think most politicians are in favor of racism, but I think a gross majority would support the free speech rights that allow a racist to stand on the corner and express his racism. I think there is a difference between supporting abortion and supporting the constitutional guarantee of freedom and privacy relating to abortion.

      • whart

        Most Republicans aren’t in favor of abortion, but, to the Democratic Party, the party of death, it is a sacrament. President Obama was willing to shut the government down over it. The HC bill almost didn’t pass because of this single issue. The right to kill children is sacrosanct in the Democratic Party.

      • Greg Smith

        Scott ~ You make my point. If “society,” which includes the people, faith denominations and government, see abortion as, to say the least, “not good, why can’t we come together and, without invoking the “police power of the state,” reduce abortions drmaticly in, say, ten years? Sorry for the long sentence. ~Pax, Greg

      • Nathan

        Everybody gets to make choices. Including gun owners, who have the constitutional right to own firearms. But you won’t find anyone who supports the right of a gun owner to kill innocent bystanders without any consequences. Free will still comes with the responsibility to do what’s right.

  • Greg Smith

    Could someone more theologicly literate than I help me out. Wasn’t Christ unjustly criticised for “consorting” with gentiles and tax collectors? Didn’t St. Paul live and preach in the gentile community? ~ Thank you, Greg

    • Martin

      You don’t stop praying for them or trying to bring them back in the fold. The point is that by their actions they’ve placed themselves outside of the fold.

  • Scott S.

    Way to throw the pejorative term “gentile” in there, Bishop.

    • Whitney

      As you pointed out, he is a bishop. What authority within the Catholic Church do you have, that you are criticizing him?

  • bpeters1

    Wait, how do the gospels say we ought to treat tax collectors and gentiles?

    • Whitney

      Were you not listening? EXPEL them. Show them they are not invited to the party unless they play by the party’s rules. Too many people have gotten a free ride for too long, it has set a bad precedent and it has to stop.

    • pnyikos

      You are missing the point. If you read Paul’s words in context, it becomes clear: treat them as not being of your faith–in this case, Catholic.

  • Ronald J. Rolling

    This is definitely speaking the truth in love. And about as truly pastoral as you can get.

  • Carm

    So simple! Yes!



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