In August 2021, Fr. Mike Schmitz, a well-known Catholic priest on youtube.com, gave a talk entitled "Can Someone Be Denied Holy Communion?", that deals with abortion, and why pro-choice politicians should be denied Holy Communion. Here is a transcript from his talk, in which he makes many good points that everyone should meditate on.
by Father Mike Schmitz
A few years ago, I worked on a college campus that has a medical school, and after one of the Sunday night Masses, one of the medical students came up to me and said, "Father, I want to share with you this manifesto that I have written. We had an embryology sex section in our medical school, and for weeks we studied how human life is conceived, how human life begins, how human life develops in the womb and how it comes to fruition, essentially in childbirth. We had this whole section on embryology that explained the mystery and incredible power and beauty of human conception, development and childbirth.
"At the end of that section, they gave us a section on abortion, on how to perform an abortion. I asked my fellow students if we did not just all go through the same class where we had been studying the fact that this is human life from the moment of conception. So we realized that this is human life from the moment of conception, and now they are teaching us how to end this human life before birth."
So he wrote this manifesto saying we are not actually following the science, that we are actually denying science at some level. If we can have this course on embryology and then also say the Hippocratic oath, first to do no harm, but then also give ourselves permission to end this innocent human life just because someone says this is life that is not really wanted, something is very wrong.
Now when it comes to abortion, it is obviously a loaded topic. I know that there are many people who have had an abortion that they participated in, they encouraged someone, or they paid for an abortion.
I work with high school students and college students, so I have come across many who have the story of having an abortion. If you want to say, "Father Mike, what kind of heart do you have towards people who have had an abortion, or people who have helped others have an abortion?"
The heart I have is the heart of just someone whose heart breaks because I cannot imagine; I have walked with enough people in this moment but I cannot imagine the fear you went through. I cannot imagine the amount of stress you went through. I cannot imagine feeling so trapped that this is my only option; the only thing I can possibly do with my life is to end the life of my baby. I cannot imagine that. So if you want to know what my heart is for you, my heart is just the heart that is broken for you because I do not hate you, I am not mad at you. The Church does not hate you; the Church is not mad at you. I cannot imagine being in that kind of situation; I cannot imagine having to make that kind of decision, especially since my guess is that you are probably pretty young.
Nonetheless, we also cannot say that that is not wrong. In fact, Mother Teresa at one point said that if abortion is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. If killing an innocent human being is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. That if we can say this is human life but it is not life worthy of living because it is unwanted, then there is nothing that is wrong. That is one of the reasons why again for those people who have been in that situation where out of fear, out of whatever kind of like feeling trapped, they chose this. Again the Lord just looks at you with love, He looks at you with mercy.
God's mercy for you is new every day. He is not holding it against you. He wants you to come back to Him to let your heart be healed, to be reconciled to Him. It is one of the reasons why the Church has words of encouragement for you, but also has really strict words though for those who advocate for abortion rights, for those who provide abortions, for those politicians who would say that this is not just a necessary evil, but this is a right.
In fact, some people say this is good that you are able to kill an innocent human being in the womb of their mother. It is one of the reasons why politicians advocate for abortion. I cannot make a value judgment on their hearts or on their souls because I do not know that information, but I do know that they are in incredibly dangerous territory. It is one of the reasons why recently the bishops have discussed whether they are going to make a public statement that would prohibit giving Holy Communion to politicians who are pro-abortion.
And you know that has been met with a lot of blowback, and people have a lot of criticisms for that like they maybe think the bishops are politicizing the Eucharist or they are trying to strong-arm people into obeying a kind of situation. In fact, there is even a politician who tweeted out something – he is apparently a "Catholic" politician who tweeted out something along the lines of here are all the things that I support and that are against Catholic Church teaching. And he said that he defies the bishops to deny him Holy Communion. I remember reading that tweet. I do not know this person; I have no idea who this person is. I just remember thinking how dangerous this thinking is.
Another thing is to fall into the trap of being able to say I want to point to these politicians and criticize them; that I point to these politicians and condemn them. That is a whole other thing. As I listen to Dave Ramsey (a U.S. radio show host), he says it is a lot easier to pay attention to what is going on in the White House than what is going on in your own house. But that is what we have to do. What we have to do right now is not necessarily pay attention to what is going on in the White House, or what is going on in other houses, but what is going on in our house.
That tweet saying "I defy the bishops to deny me Communion," that could be any one of us, because a lot of us we might, whether we like it or not, we might have our own kind of particular like pet sins, or pet things that the Church says do not do this, and we say we are the exception to that. The Church says you have to do this but we say, "No! I do not have to do that, and I defy you to deny me Holy Communion."
But here is the earth shaking and just horrible potential thing here. It is more about the Eucharist than about anything else; more about our hearts than about anything else. The Eucharist is not a right; that if you are Catholic, the Eucharist is not your right. It is not my right. It is a gift; it is always and everywhere a gift, and it is a gift that when we receive it worthily, we are given eternal life. But if we receive that gift unworthily, Scripture says we eat condemnation upon ourselves.
Another way to say it is in first Corinthians, Chapter 11. If we eat and drink Holy Communion conscious of mortal sins, then Saint Paul says we are guilty of receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord. Basically His murder is on our hands. Again do we keep in mind that the gift of the Eucharist is such that if we receive Him worthily, He gives us eternal life. But if we receive the Eucharist unworthily, we are eating condemnation upon ourselves. That is one of the reasons why the Church has always taught, regardless of what the mortal sin is, it does not matter what the mortal sin is, that if I am conscious of mortal sin, I may not receive Holy Communion until I go to confession first. Or else I am doing exactly what Saint Paul said in first Corinthians, Chapter 11: I am eating and drinking condemnation upon myself; I am guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ.
That is why again, this is not just about those who have fallen into this particular sin of abortion; it is not just about politicians living in whatever house. It is about you and about me because we might find in our own hearts this willingness to defy the bishops, or the willingness to defy the Lord, or to defy the Church and say I defy you to deny me Holy Communion. And yet, the words of Scripture are absolutely clear. We must, if we are conscious of mortal sin, go to confession before receiving Holy Communion, or we are eating and drinking condemnation to our eternal salvation, to the loss of our eternal salvation, bringing our eternal damnation.
And I know that there is such a thing as like when it comes to the Eucharist, like when it comes to the gift of mercy, Pope Francis had said very clearly that the Eucharist is not the reward for perfection, not the reward for those who are spiritual superheroes, but he said it is medicine for the sick. And you can say like, "What father, I thought Holy Communion is medicine for the sick." It is, but it is not medicine for the dead. If I am guilty of moral sin — that is, it is called mortal sin because it means my soul is spiritually dead; I am spiritually cut off from the Lord. So yes, when it comes to venial sins, we continue to approach the Lord Jesus in confidence, in hope knowing that the Eucharist is medicine for the sick. But if we are conscious of mortal sins, we do not approach the Eucharist because the Eucharist is not medicine for the dead.
Confession is medicine for the dead to bring us back to life so that we can again go and receive Holy Communion. Again this is a heavy word, is it not, a heavy word today for the ascension present stuff? Usually it is really upbeat; it is kind of a pick-me-up kind of situation. Yet from the beginning to the end, this is heavy. It is not sad, but it is grave.
God calls us all back to Himself. If I have wondered away from Him, if I have rebelled against Him, if I have rejected His teachings, He says today — let this be the moment of reconciliation, let this be the moment of coming back to confession so that you and I can come back to Communion and not eat and drink condemnation upon ourselves but receive the gift, not the right, the gift of the Eucharist and the gift of eternal life.
I am praying for you and, again, if you have received, if you had an abortion, have helped someone have an abortion, you are not alone. You are not abandoned, you are not disqualified; you are invited back home. And if you are a politician who has been in defiance of the Lord and defiance to the Church, come back! You can also come back too! You are just like me. You have a broken heart and you keep sinning. Just like me.
Let's go to confession. Let us be reunited to the Lord and to His family, to His body, and let Him pick you back up. We all need His mercy, which is why His mercies are new every single day, and they are here for you.