DC archbishop compares Catholics for Choice's Basilica protest to Judas, cites John 13:30

Catholics for Choice project pro-abortion messaging on the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2022. | Screenshot: Twitter/Catholics for Choice

The cardinal of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is condemning the move by a Catholic pro-choice organization to display a pro-abortion message on the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, likening the activity to the infamous Judas Iscariot.

On Thursday, the night before the annual March for Life, the group Catholics for Choice held a light show outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the home of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

The group displayed a message on the building that read, “pro-abortion Catholics, you are not alone.” In a tweet, the group elaborated on the rationale for its actions. 

“FACT: 68% of Catholics want #RoevWade to remain the law of the land,” the group asserted. “The #MarchforLife & @usccb want folks to think they speak for Catholics, but nothing could be further from the truth. Pro-choice Catholics: you are not alone! #LiberateAbortion #AbortionIsEssential.”

A video shared on social media revealed additional messages displayed on the Basilica, which included a proclamation that “1 in 4 abortion patients is Catholic” as well as a call to “stop stigmatizing” and “start listening.”

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of the archdiocese, reacted to the light show with a statement.

“The true voice of the Church was only to be found within The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last evening,” he said.

“There, people prayed and offered the Eucharist asking God to restore a true reverence for all human life. Those whose antics projected words on the outside of the church building demonstrated by those pranks that they really are external to the Church and they did so at night – John 13:30.”

The Bible passage Gregory spoke of recounts the events of the Last Supper, where Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus by turning him over to the Romans.

Jesus was crucified shortly after on Good Friday. The passage reads: “As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread, he went out. It was night.” 

Catholics for Choice President Jamie Manson responded to Gregory’s statement by declaring on Twitter that the idea that “support for abortion is ‘external to the church’ is a tragic denial of reality.”

“We went to the Basilica to draw attention to the fact that women in the church have abortions,” Manson wrote. “Those are likely the women who serve as his lectors and Eucharistic ministers; who sew his vestments and wash his dishes. To ignore them is to betray them.”

“The ‘pro-life’ movement calls them murders without ever hearing their stories,” Manson continued. “They push for a political cause w/out regard for the disproportionate suffering it will inflict on women, poor families & people of color.”

Describing Catholics for Choice as a “part of this church” who are “asking to be heard,” Manson cited the Bible passage Romans 8:38-39 as justification for Catholic support for abortion.

Apostle Paul writes, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains all the church’s teachings, affirms “the moral evil of every procured abortion” and condemns the policy as “gravely contrary to moral law.”

Additionally, the catechism asserts that “formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense” punishable by “the canonical penalty of excommunication.” 

J.D. Long-García, the senior editor at America Magazine, a Jesuit publication, wrote in an op-ed that Catholics for Choice’s actions could be considered “sacrilege.” 

Even if we do not consider the sacrilege, this prank is childish and rude,” he wrote. “Imagine going to the movies only to discover someone projecting messages on the lead character’s forehead. Or imagine someone projecting ‘Trump 2024’ on the garage of the Democrat next door.”

“It undercuts their own cause by potentially alienating pro-choice Catholics who see this stunt for what it is,” he continued. “I imagine such Catholics would feel similar to my conservative family and friends who bemoan the prominence of the QAnon movement in the media. And while I am a Christian, I never want to be associated with the Westboro Baptist Church and their hateful actions against the L.G.B.T. community. Not all Christians are like that.”

In 2004, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, sent a letter to Gregory and other top church leaders in the U.S. He contended that “the grave sin of abortion, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest ..., his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself to Holy Communion until he brings an end to the objective situation of sin.”

The debate on whether pro-choice Catholic politicians can participate fully in the church has intensified in the past year after President Joe Biden, a Catholic Democrat, took office.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops debated implementing a national policy instructing priests to withhold communion from Catholic politicians who advocate for permissive abortion laws that directly contradict the denomination’s teachings.

Gregory was among the Catholic leaders who indicated that he would not deny Biden communion if he presented himself for the Eucharist at his church.

The USCCB approved the drafting of “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the church” at its General Assembly earlier this year. Following criticism and allegations that it was designed to rebuke pro-abortion Catholics, the body of bishops insisted that “the document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature” and that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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