AUGUSTA (AP) – The highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in Maine drew criticism from an a University of Maine professor who said the bishop is “talking the talk” but not “walking the walk” on opposing abortion.

Terrence Hughes, an earth sciences professor at the University of Maine, told Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Portland that priests should not give communion to politicians who support a woman’s right to choose.

Hughes also criticized Malone for telling those gathered at a luncheon that opposing abortion was one of the most important facets of modern Catholicism in addition to taking communion away from politicians who support the abortion.

“The action you took is in direct contrast to the words you share with us today,” Hughes said. “I am not going to dishonor my Lord Jesus Christ by giving communion to politicians whose policies cater to killing babies.”

Hughes’ comments, which followed Malone’s keynote address at the 30th annual Pro Life Education Association awards luncheon on Saturday, prompted other complaints from the audience, many of whom said they are having trouble winning over politicians in Maine who support the right to choose.

Malone said he will continue to give communion to politicians who disagree with the church’s position on abortion and that he would rather try to convince Roman Catholic politicians to change their opinions on abortion.

“These people have not been excommunicated,” Malone said. “A whole lot of our Catholic brothers and sisters are not with us on this thing. We need to engage these people in dialogue.”

During the exchange with Hughes, Malone said anti-abortion Catholics first have to win over parishioners who support the right to choose before they take a hardline approach with public officials.

AP-ES-09-12-04 1306EDT

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