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Las Vegas bishop asks pro-abortion Catholic politicians not to present themselves for Holy Communion

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Bishop George L. Thomas of Las Vegas returns to his seat after receiving Communion at the Basilica of St. Mary Major during his "ad limina" visit in Rome Jan. 30, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Las Vegas, Nev., Feb 1, 2022 / 15:33 pm (CNA).

The Bishop of Las Vegas, responding to a pro-abortion column written by a Catholic politician, has asked all Catholic politicians who do not agree with the Church’s teaching on abortion not to present themselves for Holy Communion.

“It is my sincere hope that Catholic politicians and Catholics at large take this moment to look deeply into their own hearts, and re-examine the church’s moral conviction on the inviolability and dignity of human life,” Bishop George Thomas wrote Jan. 24.

“If a politician from the Diocese of Las Vegas finds himself or herself at odds with the church’s teaching on the sacredness of human life, I ask him or her voluntarily to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion while holding public office.”

“I place the onus of that decision upon the individual politician’s shoulders, and not on the backs of Pastors or Eucharistic Ministers,” he added.

He said he welcomes a private conversation with any Catholic politician who holds a position contrary to Church teaching on abortion.

Thomas’ statement was spurred by a Jan. 24 column in the Las Vegas Sun by Democratic Representative Susie Lee, in which she urged the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights into federal law. Nevada has more permissive abortion laws than most states, and many women travel from other states to avail themselves of abortion in Nevada.

“As a Catholic, I have a deep understanding of the moral dilemma that the choice to have an abortion presents. At the same time, the choice to become a mother is an extremely personal one, and that choice should stay between a woman, her family and her doctor,” Lee wrote.

“When extremists insert themselves into this decision, they refuse to recognize women’s bodily autonomy, potentially put them in life-threatening circumstances, and often coerce them into having a future that they neither wanted nor prepared for.”

Lee continued, “I will always be a fierce advocate in the fight to ensure that women have the freedom to seek unrestrained and medically accurate advice from their doctors and make their own decisions about their health and their bodies. Protecting the right to safe, legal abortion will be an uphill battle, but I will never back down.”

Bishop Thomas described Lee’s “deep understanding” as “highly flawed,” noting that she “articulated a position that stands in stark contrast to the hallowed moral teaching of the Catholic church.”

“Throughout her column, Lee proffers her support for unrestricted reproductive care, without ever mentioning the consequences of her advocacy for the unborn child, over 60 million of whom have been annihilated in the womb since the enactment of Roe v. Wade 49 years ago,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas quoted a November 2021 document on the Eucharist from the U.S. bishops: “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the church.”

The Church teaches that ​​”all persons, without exception, are unique and unrepeatable gifts from God. We hold that each is fashioned in God’s own image, and therefore, there are to be no throwaway people, no disposable souls, and no second-class citizens,” he wrote.

“This conviction explains the Catholic church’s reverence for unborn life, our care for the hungry and homeless, our investment in comprehensive adoption services, our support for lawful immigration reform, and our advocacy among the poor and vulnerable in the community…I hold that the unborn child must be counted among the most vulnerable in our midst.”

The debate over whether Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion can be admitted to Holy Communion has become more acute in recent years with the election of Joe Biden, the second Catholic president and a supporter of legalized abortion.

In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Thomas said he “absolutely” believes Biden should refrain from receiving the sacrament as well.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a grave sin. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion”, while the following canon states, “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”

Other bishops, such as Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, have said that Catholic public officials who publicly support permissive laws on grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia may not be admitted to Communion.

In February 2018, Bishop Paprocki said that “Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart.”

And in June 2019 he decreed that “Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, who facilitated the passage of the Act Concerning Abortion of 2017 (House Bill 40) as well as the Reproductive Health Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 25), are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois because they have obstinately persisted in promoting the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion as evidenced by the influence they exerted in their leadership roles and their repeated votes and obdurate public support for abortion rights over an extended period of time.”

“These persons may be readmitted to Holy Communion only after they have truly repented these grave sins and furthermore have made suitable reparation for damages and scandal, or at least have seriously promised to do so, as determined in my judgment or in the judgment of their diocesan bishop in consultation with me or my successor,” Bishop Paprocki added.

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    • Except Bishop Thomas fell well short of what fully needed to be said. He needed to do and say as Bishop Paprocki, actively order his diocese to REFUSE Holy Communion to these pols. Expressing it as ‘voluntary’ by the pols only is nothing more than it was to begin with, and these pols already voluntarily dismissed the Catechism and acted gravely opposite it for decades. By doing so, Bishop Thomas is creating a scandal to the detriment of the parishioners in Las Vegas and elsewhere. For that he should not be applauded for this action rather he should be publicly admonished until he acts appropriately, like Bishop Paprocki.

  1. “The debate over whether Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion can be admitted to Holy Communion has become more acute in recent years with the election of Joe Biden, the second Catholic President and a supporter of legalized abortion.”


    There is no debate – there is scandal because most Bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, are afraid to enforce Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. If there ever was debate on the subject it ended decades ago.

  2. Terence McManus is right on the money.

    The issue is what observers call “the McCarrick Doctrine of the Eucharist,” which is the deceitful posturing of Bishops who refuse to do their duty under Canon 915. Bishop Thomas of Las Vegas refuses to do his duty, which is the deceitful policy crafted in 2004 at the USCCB Conference by “His (ex) Eminence” McCarrick and his protege “His (then) Excellency Gregory,” when they did the bidding of most US Bishops and lied to the Church publicly, denying that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had urged Bishops to rnforce Canon 915.

    To this day, the majority of US Bishops hold and keep the deceitful “McCarrick policy of refusing their duty to withold under Canon Law 915.”

    Bishop Paprocki is truthful and just and brave by rightly refusing to follow McCarrick and Gregory et al.

    (Bishop Thomas is false-tongued and unjust and a coward, just like McCarrick and Gregory and most US Bishops).

  3. One of a handful of bishops with true zeal for the faith. Now just wait for the Satanist forces within the Catholic Church go on the attack to try to destroy him…which they will. Watch and see.

  4. It’s like “asking” Hitler to close the concentration camps, and until he does, could he not present himself for communion.

  5. All Bishops should feel this way…. this is the Catholic faith. Those that don’t belief that abortion is murder or delusional and have NO love for God. There are those that need to get more education in the Catholic faith. This is Catholic Schools week… I hope they are still showing the abortion movie…. this is where it begins for many, for their parents aren’t doing their job like I know my parents did. I have been blessed to have the belief and faith that was instilled in me by faith minded mentor’s.

  6. This bishop is acting very timidly. As chief shepherd in his diocses he has the obligation to make it emphatically clear — that anyone who publicly denies some fundamental article of the faith, does it and who does it knowingly and obstinately, that person is to be excommunicated from the church. He ought to then advise confession and then make a public act of repentance. This is the objectively action that he and only he is authorized to perform. This is not a question of asking them, him or her, to voluntarily refrain from the reception of Holy Communion while holding public office.”

  7. Never have understoood how I, a Catholic, can’t go to Communion if I am not in communion with the Church through Confession, but for some reason a famous politician who works ceaselessly to promote the death of humans can. I am so glad to finally see SOMEONE in the Church STAND UP

  8. Susie Lee writes about pro-life advocates, “When extremists insert themselves into this decision, they refuse to recognize women’s bodily autonomy, potentially put them in life-threatening circumstances, and often coerce them into having a future that they neither wanted nor prepared for.” Maybe those who don’t want to become mothers should refrain from the activity that risks pregnancy. Once sex became “recreational” rather than its intended “procreational,” there was an open season on the consequences, namely conceived human beings. How selfish can we be? Selfish.

    • Look no further than the public schools for the source of much of the ‘recreational’ training for this activity. Think: “condoms on bananas”.

  9. I don’t want to be negative, but I can’t say that I see the courage here. Bishop Thomas is urging pro-abortion politicians to obey canon 916, but is refusing to obey canon 915 himself, and indicating it would be a burden for his priests to obey 915.
    Let us also think a little about the word courage. No matter what action the bishop takes or does not take, it will not cost him his life. At most it might be a little bad publicity. These days police exhibit courage when they make a traffic stop, since they have no idea how it may develop. That is true courage.

  10. At a minimum, Bishop Lee’s instruction should be formalized and effectuated more broadly by a comparable statement from the USCCB on behalf of the U.S. Catholic episcopacy in its entirety.

    Praying that Pope Francis does likewise in an Encyclical.

  11. Thank You Bishop Thomas! I especially like that he puts the onus on the sinner, who would do well to read 1 Cor 11:23-31; “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
    One question for Lee; what is your position on vaccine mandates? I find it completely ironic and hypocritical that most of the pro-choice believers (my body-my choice) are all for forced vaccinations! Abortion kills a person no doubt, but there is a lot of doubt about whether the vaccine saves everyone! Faucci said those who suffered from GBS should NOT get vaccinated in 2021, now that is not a reason to get an exemption. Something is wrong with modern day liberty!
    May God bless us and protect everyone from EVIL, even those who constantly push for more evil, because they need God’s benevolence the most!

  12. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 82% of Catholics find using birth control morally acceptable, despite Pius XI classifying it as a mortal sin. Strict adherence to Canon 915 precludes these people from receiving Communion as well.

    If everyone voluntarily adheres to a strict interpretation of Canon 915 we could easily see masses devoid of anyone presenting themselves for Communion at all.

  13. Chris;

    Thank you.
    I would go one step further – The Bishop should not only ask pro-abortion politicians not to present themselves for Holy Communion – he should instruct Priests and Eucharistic Ministers to identify those politicians and deny them the Eucharist – after giving them one more chance to repent.
    It’s interesting that there is a piece in today’s CWR entitled “Andy Warhol, St. John Paul II and St. Sebastian.”

    We’ll get through this.

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