by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
This past week’s (Feb. 11) Leaven contained a Catholic News Service article regarding Bishop George Thomas’ response to a commentary printed in the Las Vegas Sun authored by Nevada U.S. Congresswoman Susie Lee, explaining her vote in favor of the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act that would codify into federal law a right to abortion. Congresswoman Lee in her op-ed article identifies herself as a Catholic.
Representative Lee described herself as a fierce advocate for legalized abortion. She promised never to back down from her support for unlimited and unrestricted abortion.
Bishop Thomas in response to Representative Lee’s column reminded Catholics of a section in his first homily as the new bishop of Las Vegas: “We are a church that will never remain silent when human life is threatened, whether in the womb or on the deathbed. We will always assert a preferential option for the poor as we apportion our resources and energy. I hold that the unborn child must be counted among the most vulnerable in our midst.”
Bishop Thomas notes that Representative Lee never mentions the life of the unborn child. Bishop Thomas also referred to “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” a statement overwhelmingly approved by the Catholic bishops of the United States this past November.
The Catholic bishops of the United States, quoting from one of our previous documents (“Happy Are Those Called to His Supper”), stated: “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.
“Reception of holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”
Representative Lee manifested no awareness of the deep emotional, psychological and spiritual pain that many women experience after an abortion.
In our Project Rachel and Project Joseph post-abortion reconciliation and healing ministries, we encounter women who chose to have an abortion and now deeply regret their choice, as well as men (fathers) who regret having pressured or at least supported the mother of his child in procuring an abortion.
Abortion not only takes the life of an innocent child, but it also scars the hearts of parents and many others who assisted or participated in the abortion procedure.
Bishop Thomas requested that Catholics in public life who oppose the church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and the evil of abortion voluntarily refrain from receiving holy Communion. He clearly placed the responsibility on the politician or public figure not to present themselves for holy Communion.
I applaud Bishop Thomas for his action. He demonstrates not only respect for the sanctity of innocent human life, but also compassion for pregnant mothers protecting them from making a decision that many will eventually deeply regret.
Bishop Thomas also exhibits a desire to protect his people, especially the young, from being misled into error by the grave mistakes of Catholics serving in public life.
Finally, Bishop Thomas manifests genuine pastoral solicitude for the spiritual and eternal welfare of Representative Lee and other Catholic politicians. It is irresponsible for pastors to fail to attempt to educate Catholics in public life about the grave consequences of their actions resulting in the deaths of millions of children and the scarring of their parents.
Bishop Thomas’ statement also demonstrates the importance and relevance of “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” document that was promulgated by the bishops of the United States this past November.
The primary purpose of this document was to provide a theological and pastoral foundation for the Eucharistic Revival Pastoral Initiative that will begin this year on the solemnity of Corpus Christi.
In so doing, we challenged every Catholic (bishops and priests included) to ponder the importance of being properly prepared to receive the Eucharist, as well as to live a life that is consistent with our communion with our eucharistic Lord and the church.
Of course, this applies also to President Biden. His radical and aggressive support for legalized abortion, while claiming to be a devout Catholic, has serious consequences for his own spiritual welfare and is undoubtedly leading others into moral error.
We must pray for enlightenment and conversion for the president. We must also pray for all those who serve in public life, especially Catholics, that they may act in a manner that protects the most fundamental of all human rights: the right to life.
I am very grateful to all those who have donated to our special Archdiocesan Respect Life Fund. Your generosity will help our efforts to educate Catholics and non-Catholics about the “Value Them Both” amendment.
The respect life fund is also helping us to increase significantly the resources available to surround pregnant mothers with the necessary medical, financial, educational and emotional assistance for them and their children. Catholics and many other pro-life Kansans are committed — not just to accompanying women during their pregnancy, but for as long as is needed for mother and child to thrive!
California is declaring itself a haven for anyone wanting abortions.
We want Kansas to be a haven for pregnant mothers with difficult and untimely pregnancies to find all the support they need to make a choice that both they and their children can live with for a lifetime.
I want to do all that I can to make Kansas a destination state for life!