Colorado lawmakers asked not to take communion
State Bishops urge this action “until public repentance takes place and sacramental absolution is received”
By Julie Asher
Catholic Press Service
In a June 6 open letter, the Catholic bishops of Colorado called on Catholic lawmakers “who live or worship in the state” and voted for Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act “to abstain voluntarily to receive Holy Communion“.
They urged this action “until public repentance takes place and sacramental absolution is received in confession”.
“The burden of their decision does not rest on the shoulders of priests, deacons or extraordinary lay ministers of the Eucharist,” they wrote. “It rests on the conscience and the souls of the politicians who have chosen to support this bad and unjust law.”
The Reproductive Health Equity Act is considered one of the most permissive abortion measures in the country. Governor Jared Polis quickly signed it into law on April 4 just after it passed the State House and Senate.
It allows abortion on demand for 40 full weeks of pregnancy; allows abortion based on discrimination based on gender, race, or children with disabilities such as Down syndrome; and removes the obligation to inform the parents of minors if their minor is having an abortion.
It also enshrines in law that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no independent or derivative rights” under state law and prohibits any regulation of abortion based on concerns about health of the woman or baby.
Signing the letter are Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop Stephen J. Berg of Pueblo, Bishop James R. Golka of Colorado Springs, and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez of Denver.
“The recently concluded 2022 legislative session was difficult for many Coloradans who watched in dismay as their state lawmakers rushed one of the most extreme abortion bills in the nation through the chambers of the Capitol and into office. of Governor Polis for his signature,” the Prelates wrote.
As the bill moved through the Legislative Assembly, “there was an outcry against it,” they said. “Thousands of people have written to their legislators. More than 350 people testified against the RHEA (Reproductive Health Equity Act) in the House and more than 215 testified against it in the Senate until the wee hours of the morning.
The four prelates were among hundreds who testified against the bill in hour-long hearings.
Some lawmakers who supported the bill said it “is designed to make our state an abortion destination and a ‘safe haven,'” they said. “They expect pregnant mothers to flock from surrounding states to abort if Roe v. Wade is canceled. It causes us deep sadness and distress to know that some Catholic legislators voted for this.
“We have a strong desire to discuss the spiritual and cultural impact of laws like RHEA with politicians from both parties who call themselves Catholic and who represent the people of our state,” the Bishops continued. “As shepherds, we want to make sure they understand the church’s teaching on receiving Holy Communion and the proper spiritual disposition to do so.
“Efforts have already been made to speak with several of these legislators, but unfortunately very few have accepted the invitation to meet.”
By their public votes, the bishops wrote, it was clear that several Catholic lawmakers believed that “unborn babies are worth less than those gifted to be born, according to this morally bankrupt logic.”
The bishops thanked the senses. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Kevin Priola and Jim Smallwood and Rep. Andres Pico, who are Catholic and voted “to protect unborn children and against allowing our state to deprive them of their God-given right to life.”
“Voting for RHEA was part of a gravely culpable act as it facilitates the murder of innocent unborn babies, and the Catholic politicians who did so most likely placed themselves outside the communion of the church,” they wrote. .
The prelates quoted “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” a 26-page statement approved by the body of bishops last November.
He was not calling for banning Catholic politicians who support abortion from taking communion, but he was addressing all Catholics in the United States and explaining “the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”
“Receiving the body and blood of Christ in a state of mortal sin represents a contradiction,” the Colorado bishops wrote, citing the document. “The person who, by his own action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church, but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts inconsistently, claiming and rejecting communion at the same time.
“Furthermore,” the bishops said, “to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is sacrilege because it is ‘a failure to show due respect to the sacred body and blood of Christ’.”
“Finally,” they said, “when other Catholics see public figures receiving Jesus in such a spiritual state, their resolve to be faithful to the Gospel may be weakened. A Catholic politician or public figure who leads or encourages others to do evil is disrespect for the souls of others and is what the church defines as ‘scandal’,” the document states.
“We pray that this letter and our request to refrain from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist will spark sincere reflection and conversion in the hearts of those who participated in allowing this grave act of injustice to become law,” they said.
This request was not made “lightly”, they said, but stemmed from their “duty to safeguard the faith and care for the souls of all the faithful – including those politicians”.
“We are always willing to engage in conversation with any Catholic politician to whom this applies,” they concluded, “and we want you to know that we regularly pray for everyone who holds public office.”