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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