I had once read in Church history about Rome's use of the Interdict power during the Protestant split, that is, to instruct the clergy of an entire nation to deny the Sacraments. Rome's intended reaction was for the Catholic populace against their Protestant masters to instantly revolt and restore said nation to Catholicism. Since Rome's attitude regarding abortion is well known, then why does't Rome get serious and use Interdict to deny the sacraments to all nations whose laws allow abortion, in order to force change?

1 Answer 1


In Roman Catholic canon law, an interdict is an ecclesiastical censure that excludes from certain rites of the Church individuals or groups, who nonetheless do not cease to be members of the Church. The pope can at any time choose to use his interdict powers to deny the sacraments to all nations whose laws allow abortion.

The widespread support of abortion rights is evident, for example, in the United States, which provides for legal abortions, and nearly every European country, with most countries in the European Union allowing abortion on demand during the first trimester. Were the pope to exclude the Catholic population of almost every country in the world from participation in Church rites, the Church could expect a backlash that might cause serious damage to the entire Church. So although the pope could interdict every country that did not fall into line, this is not a risk that a prudent pope would consider taking.

  • 1
    Why should the Pope fear backlash? It's his Church, he has the power to bind or loosen. If he condemns the world as being hopelessly corrupt for allowing abortion and allows only a very small church of people who remain absolutely faithful to his teachings, then what difference should that make? I know it would be war. But isn't that a war he would, or could, consider fighting, never mind prudence? Apr 7, 2015 at 7:15
  • @Dick, Indeed why would that be a problem? Are you saying that that it is righteous for the Pope to make this decision or are you saying that the Pope has made a mistake?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 11, 2015 at 8:50
  • @Pacerier Either of these options is a value judgement, and I am not making a value judgement. In answering the question I am merely saying that use of inderdict powers would not only be unlikely to achieve change but also would be impractical. Therefore a prudent pope would not take this step. Jun 11, 2015 at 9:40
  • @DickHarfield, By stating that ~"either option is valid" and "a prudent pope would not take this step", Do you mean that it's possible to be prudent yet unrighteous?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 13, 2015 at 8:06
  • @Pacerier I think you misunderstood me. I said either option is a value judgement. That is to say, I would be judging a pope according to my own values, which (on this site and in answer to this question) I am not doing. The question was asking about the practical limits to the pope's powers in this regard, and I was addressing those practical limits. Jun 13, 2015 at 21:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .