The Catholic bishops’ outcry against politicians who support abortion and assisted suicide is growing louder.
A group of New Mexico bishops recently issued a strong statement urging Catholic lawmakers to stop using their faith to justify their support of abortion and assisted suicide, The Catholic Herald reports.
“This misrepresents church teaching and creates a public scandal for the faithful. Furthermore, this action publicly separates a person from communion with the Catholic faith,” the bishops said in the statement.
They said they “are concerned by public statements by some legislators that seem to say that a faithful Catholic can support abortion or doctor-assisted suicide.”
Abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are “the direct taking of human life, and are always wrong,” they continued.
“Proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most effective way to change hearts and minds so that one day the scourge of abortion will be eliminated,” the bishops said. “Our message is consistent: All human life is sacred, from the moment of conception to natural death, and must be protected.”
New Mexico Archbishop John C. Wester, retired Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, Bishop Oscar Cantu, retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup signed the statement, according to the report.
The Catholic news outlet speculated that the statement could be in response to two state lawmakers, Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero and Sen. Ortiz Pino, who describe themselves as Catholic but vote against life-protecting legislation.
Earlier in March, Roybal Caballero opposed two state abortion regulations: One would have prohibited late-term abortions after 20 weeks, and the other would have required parents to be notified before a girl under 18 has an abortion.
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She defended her votes, saying: “My Catholic faith teaches me women and men have the right to make their own decisions based on the dictum of their own consciences. I respect life in all forms, and I firmly believe these very deep and personal, complex decisions must remain with the woman, her doctors, her family and her faith, and certainly not in the chambers of government.”
New Mexico Catholic Archbishop John C. Wester swiftly criticized Caballero after the vote. Through a spokesman, Wester said: “A lack of formed conscience can create havoc and problems. Especially when a public or elected person identifies themselves as Catholic and uses that to justify a vote for abortion, that person—and this is a teaching across across the whole Church—is themselves separating themselves.”
Pino, who also identifies as a “faithful Catholic,” is promoting two bills that go against Catholic teachings, according to the report. He recently introduced a bill that would repeal religious exemptions for participating in abortions in New Mexico, and he also supports a bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide, the report states.
The Catholic Church is very clear about its position on abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia: Every human life is valuable and deserving of protection from conception to natural death. Yet, some politicians who say they are Catholic consistently oppose even moderate abortion regulations and support measures to legalize assisted suicide. Some of the most prominent include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden.
For years, Catholic bishops in the U.S. have been rebuking politicians who support life-destroying practices while claiming to be Catholic. In February, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York also criticized three state legislators who attended pro-Planned Parenthood rallies.
“Three Catholic politicians — one federal, one state and one local — not only participated but spoke passionately on behalf of maintaining such funding,” Scharfenberger said. “And while any judgment of these individuals’ hearts or souls is left only to God, I am entrusted with the solemn duty of reminding them of the unambiguous teaching of our faith on the matter of abortion, informing them that it is inappropriate and confusing to the faithful to hold yourself out publicly as a Catholic while also promoting abortion.”