Shortly after the bishops issue a strongly worded statement attacking the draft abortion legislation (expect to hear RTE, Irish Times and government parties insisting on "Protection of Maternal Life" legislation) Cardinal Brady is asked by a journalist:
"Have the bishops discussed whether politicians who advocate support for the legislation should be barred from communion, as has happened in some US dioceses?"
What answer should he have given?
Well there's short and truthful - "No, we didn't discuss that"
There's longer and useful - "No, we didn't discuss that. The legislation is in a draft form and we want to ensure that people are aware of the full moral implications of what is involved before they consider voting. We want people to realise that this represents a distinct movement from necessary medical practice to the deliberate killing of an innocent unborn child....." And so on.
Instead what did Cardinal Brady say:
"There would be a great reluctance to politicise the Eucharist....I say that they (politicians) have an obligation to oppose the laws that are attacking something so fundamental as the right to life and they would have to follow their own conscience."
Here endeth the Church's contribution to the debate. Follow your own conscience (understood as do what you like), there will be no repurcussions for you as a Catholic politician and we will ignore Canon Law as we did on child abuse for many years.
Canon 915 makes crystal clear that a Catholic politician who votes for abortion must be refused communion and the onus is on the person distributing communion to refuse. It's got noting to do with politics - it's everything to do with integrity of the sacraments.
Contrast the statement by Cardinal Burke courtesy of EWTN:
Cardinal Raymond Burke says that local Catholic politicians who support the procedure should be refused Holy Communion in hopes of inspiring their conversion.
“There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins,”Cardinal Burke told the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice in an interview published Feb. 1.
Once “a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion,” the cardinal added, “as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion.”
The American cardinal heads the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest legal tribunal that rules on canon law.
Cardinal Burke said that the local bishop and parish priests must ensure that Holy Communion is properly received to avoid “the grave sin of sacrilege” from those like Catholic politicians who receive Communion in spite of “grave moral evil.” The bishops and clergy must also prevent the “scandal” caused by this kind of reception because it “gives the impression that the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm."
He also addressed the issue in academic detail back in 2007 - worth a careful read here.