By G9ija

Wading into an issue splitting the U.S. Catholic Church, Pope Francis on Wednesday said the decision about granting pro-choice politicians Communion should be made from a strictly pastoral point of view, not a political one.

Francis did not take a direct stance on the debate raging over whether President Biden should be denied Communion because of an abortion stance that goes against church doctrine. But the pope advised that bishops should be “pastors, and not go condemning,” according to the Associated Press.

“God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness,” Francis said.

Francis, speaking to reporters as he returned from a four-day trip to Hungary and Slovakia, was asked specifically about the situation in the United States, where Biden’s election has inflamed a long-simmering question about how to treat Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. While Francis reiterated that abortion is “murder,” his comments appeared like a rebuke of bishops who have advocated for taking a hard line against Biden and other politicians.

Francis said he has “never denied the Eucharist to anyone — to anyone.”