In the wake of liberal abortion legislation gaining traction in several states recently, one Catholic bishop has made it clear that pro-choice politicians will not be welcome to receive communion in his diocese.
Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, sent a letter to his diocese Friday, doubling down on the Church’s pro-life teachings while admonishing self-professed Catholics who endorse pro-abortion legislation.
“Politicians who reside in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, and who obstinately persevere in their public support for abortion, should not receive Communion without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church,” Bishop Daly wrote, as reported by the Catholic News Agency.
“Efforts to expand access to abortion, allowing murder of children up to the moment of birth is evil,” he added. “Children are a gift from God, no matter the circumstances of their conception. They not only have a right to life, but we as a society have a moral obligation to protect them from harm.”
The bishop’s strong words come as politicians like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have aggressively campaigned for the expansion of abortion up until birth. In his letter, he mentioned Cuomo directly, calling his behavior “unacceptable.”
“The champion of this abortion legislation is Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic and governor of New York. Governor Cuomo frequently cites his Catholic faith in support of legislation he favors. His public witness as a Catholic politician, coupled with his stalwart support of abortion, is unacceptable,” Bishop Daly wrote.
After signing the now-infamous Reproductive Health Act, Cuomo ordered that One World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge and the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany be illuminated in pink.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 23, 2019
Democrat Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that the World Trade Center and Kosciuszko Bridge be lit pink to celebrate New York's signing of the Reproductive Health Act which allows women to abort their babies up until the moment of birth. pic.twitter.com/sWMgWBJmJB
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 23, 2019
Following Cuomo’s open celebration of the new law, which allows abortion to take place “at any time when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health,” Manhattan priest and author Fr. George Rutler observed, “The ancient Caesars dressed in red as the token of victory. Cuomo chose pink.”
Such brazen rebellion against the Church’s teachings on human life have prompted many Church leaders and lay people to call for Cuomo’s excommunication, which would prevent the governor from receiving communion and other sacraments until he repents of his sins. The goal of excommunication is to humble the sinner and move him to turn from practices that jeopardize his salvation.
What are other Church leaders saying?
But New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has the authority to excommunicate Cuomo, noted last month that he is not inclined to do so.
Speaking on his radio show on Jan. 29, Dolan said that it would be “completely counterproductive” to “punish” Cuomo for his actions.
— Cardinal Dolan (@CardinalDolan) January 29, 2019
“Especially if you have a governor who enjoys this and wants to represent himself as a kind of martyr to the cause, doing what is right. He is proud to dissent from the essentials of the faith. He’s proud with these positions,” Cardinal Dolan said.
While Bishop Daly didn’t touch on excommunication in his letter, he did cite canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which notes Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
“The Church’s commitment to the life of every human person from conception until death is firm,” the bishop wrote. “God alone is the author of life and for the civil government to sanction the willful murder of children is unacceptable. For a Catholic political leader to do so is scandalous.”
Other Church leaders outside of New York, such as Bishop Eduardo Nevares, auxiliary bishop of Phoenix, and Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, have called for Cuomo’s excommunication, voicing their opinions on Twitter.
I am compelled to raise my voice in calling on Cardinal Dolan, and ALL CATHOLIC BISHOPS to EXCOMMUNICATE the “Catholic”
Governors and ALL other “Catholic” Politicians who are promoting the most VILE, HIDEOUS and YES, DEMONIC practice of MURDERING the NEW BORN BABIES.
— Eduardo Nevares (@bishopnevares) January 31, 2019
Someone asked me today if I would issue an excommunication of a Catholic Governor under my jurisdiction if the Governor did the same as in New York. I think I might do it for any Catholic legislator under my jurisdiction who voted for the bill as well as the Governor.
— Bishop Rick Stika (@BishopStika) January 24, 2019
What was Cuomo’s response to all the criticism?
As for Gov. Cuomo, the politician doesn’t seem worried about his status with the Church. In an interview on WAMC radio last month, he noted his desire to “incorporate Roe vs. Wade” into the laws and constitution of New York.
He noted that the Catholic Church “doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose.”
“Yes, I understand their religious view,” he added, “I understand their religious view when it comes to marriage equality. But, I’m not here to legislate religion. I happen to be Catholic, but you’re not a Catholic governor — you’re just governor.”
“You can have religious views, but different legal-civil views,” he said.
Cuomo then qualified, “I’m here to represent all the people and the constitutional rights and privileges and limitations for all the people, not as a Catholic.”