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Calif. bishop tells pro-choice governor to quit communion. (People & Events).

Sacramento Bishop William K. Weigand has urged California Gov. Gray Davis to drop his support for legal abortion or stop receiving communion at Roman Catholic services.

Weigand, speaking at a mass to mark the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade, singled out Davis, a Democrat who strongly supports abortion rights, and told the congregation that no Catholic can be pro-choice, the Sacramento Bee reported.

"As your bishop, I have to say that anyone--politician or otherwise--who thinks it is acceptable for a Catholic to be pro-abortion is in very great error, puts his or her soul at risk and is not in good standing with the church. Such a person should have the integrity to acknowledge this and choose of his own volition to abstain from receiving Holy Communion until he has a change of heart."

Weigand said he was motivated to act by the actions of a local priest, Monsignor Edward Kavanagh, who in December told Davis that he and his staff were not welcome to visit a Catholic orphanage and distribute gifts to children unless he first renounced his support for legal abortion.

Davis told Kavanagh he had no intention of switching sides.

"I'm unapologetically pro-choice, and I'm not changing my position," he said. Davis later arranged for the children from the orphanage to come to the state capitol building to get the presents.

"Ever since the little incident last month, people have been asking questions," Weigand said. "They asked, `How can a Catholic be in good standing and still hold that point of view?' I'm saying you can't be a Catholic in good standing and hold that point of view. The governor's position is very public and contrary.... You can't have it both ways."

Davis and his wife, Sharon, are active Catholics who attend mass regularly. His spokesman, Russ Lopez, pointed out that most Catholics support abortion rights.

"Does the bishop want all Catholics to stop receiving Holy Communion?" he asked. "Who's going to be left in church?"

The Weigand push may be part of a larger effort by the Roman Catholic hierarchy to crack down on pro-choice politicians. In January, the Vatican issued a statement insisting that no Catholic politician can support legal abortion, same-sex marriage or physician-assisted suicide.

One non-Catholic Religious Right leader hopes other bishops pick up Weigand's crusade. Ken Connor of the Family Research Council praised Weigand in The Pastor's Weekly Briefing, a publication of Focus on the Family.

"Gov. Davis apparently has bought into moral relativism, the notion that each man is his own moral authority, and that, as a Catholic, he is free to reject the church's teaching as he sees fit," wrote Connor. "Bishop Weigand deserves high praise for speaking the truth to power. Other church leaders--Catholic and Protestant--should follow his example."
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Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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