DUBUQUE, Iowa — Rather than being denied Communion, Catholics who cause scandal in their defiance of church teaching should be allowed to receive the Eucharist as the “healing remedy” Christ gave to his followers, said Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque.

“We readily identify things like abortion and capital punishment as life issues, which Catholic teaching identifies as absolutely wrong under any circumstance,” he said.

“But protecting the earth, our common home, or making food, water, shelter, education and health care accessible, or defense against gun violence … these are life issues too,” he said.

The archbishop made his comments in a letter to the faithful of the archdiocese released May 25, a day after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 schoolchildren and two teachers dead and another 17 people injured.

The gunman, later identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, was killed by law enforcement.

The Texas tragedy came 10 days after a mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that targeted Black people. Suspect Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, also 18, has been charged with first-degree murder.

“Pity the grocery shoppers in Buffalo, the school kids in Texas, their grieving families, and everyone now more afraid than ever of doing those simple, everyday things,” Jackels said.

“You’ve got to wonder about reasons for refusing reasonable limits on gun ownership, which are inspired by the common good and offering protection from harm,” he said.

In writing about life issues and the Eucharist, the archbishop did not mention San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who declared May 20 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is not “to be admitted” to Communion because of her stand on legalized abortion.

Archbishop Jackels said that “some people want to repair the scandal of pro-choice Catholic politicians by refusing them the Eucharist” but he called this “a misguided response for at least two reasons.”

“As Jesus said, it’s the sick people who need a doctor, not the healthy, and he gave us the Eucharist as a healing remedy,” he explained. “Don’t deny the people who need the medicine.”

“Also, to be consistent,” he said, “to repair the scandal of Catholics being indifferent or opposed to all those other life issues, they would have to be denied holy Communion as well.”

“Better, I think, to put the Eucharist in the hands of such Catholics in hopes that one day soon they would put their hands to work on behalf of life, in defense of all life,” Jackels concluded.