Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic bishops should minister to politicians who support abortion rights, such as U.S. President Joe Biden, with “compassion and tenderness,” not condemnation.The pontiff, returning to Rome from Slovakia, warned that Catholic Church leaders should not let politics enter into questions about whether observant Catholics like Biden should be refused the right to receive Communion when they attend Mass.But Francis declined to give a direct “yes” or “no” answer to whether Biden should be denied Communion, as some U.S. Catholic bishops have demanded. Francis said he did not know the U.S. case well enough to give an answer.The pope reiterated church doctrine that abortions are “homicide.”But he said priests and bishops should act in a pastoral way and not in a political manner when discussing any issues that confront them. Francis said they must use “the style of God” to talk with the faithful with “closeness, compassion and tenderness.””And what should pastors do?” he asked rhetorically. “Be pastors, and not go condemning, condemning.”U.S. bishops agreed in June that their conference doctrine committee would draft a statement on the meaning of Communion in the life of the church, and that it would then consider it as a group, possibly at a meeting in November.Aboard his flight back to the Vatican, Francis told reporters, “Communion is not a prize for the perfect,” but rather “a gift, the presence of Jesus in his church and in the community. That is the theology.”Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

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