FARGO, North Dakota, August 11, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Church should seek the conversion of pro-abortion politicians, but if they remain obstinate they should be expelled from the Church, says Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo.
The Bishop proposed in an interview with Catholic World Report this week that Bishops should take their cue from the Gospel of Matthew in handling pro-abortion politicians.
“Our Lord tells us to speak to the person, and then take two or three others with us if he does not change,” he said. “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.’”
The Bishop continued: “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.”
Aquila, who has been the spiritual head of the diocese of Fargo in North Dakota for ten years, is well known for his support for the pro-life cause.
His active support for the 40 Days for Life campaign in Fargo included sending a letter to the priests of the diocese asking them to sign up for an hour of prayer outside an abortion clinic. He has also personally led prayer vigils outside Fargo’s only abortuary.
The Bishop told Catholic World Report that his commitment to pro-life advocacy began in the 1970s, when he got a glimpse of the devastating aftermath of an abortion as an orderly in an emergency room in Colorado.
“A woman who had had an incomplete abortion was brought in. Those of us working in the emergency room were pro-life and had had nothing to do with the abortion, but were trying to help the woman afterward,” he said.
“It was there I first saw the remains of an unborn child, about three and a half months along. It really impacted me. It was impressed in my mind and my heart and that this was a human life. It had now been forever destroyed. Ever since then I’ve been outspoken on human-life issues, and tried to help people to understand the dignity of human life.”
Aquila also told the news service that clergy should be outspoken in defending the Church’s teaching in other areas, as well, particularly regarding the sanctity of marriage.
“The Church has been clear that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and we need to continue to speak clearly to society on the truth, dignity, and meaning of marriage,” he said.