Colorado bishops released an open letter on Tuesday asking Catholic lawmakers who just voted for a new abortion bill to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Here is the full text of the letter:
Receiving Communion with dignity, an open letter to Catholic politicians and the faithful
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
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 the office of the Governor Polis for his signature.
As HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), made its way through the legislature, there was an outcry against it. Thousands of people have written to their legislators. More than 350 people testified against RHEA in the House and more than 215 testified against her in the Senate until the wee hours of the morning. RHEA allows abortion from conception to birth and for any reason, including the child’s race, gender or disability.
According to some of the lawmakers supporting RHEA, this new law is designed to make our state an abortion destination and a “safe haven.” They expect pregnant women to flock from neighboring states to abort if deer v. Wade is overturned. 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 bipartisan politicians who call themselves Catholic and represent the people of our state. As their 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.
During the vote on the Reproductive Health Equity Act, it became clear through their public votes that several Catholic lawmakers support the end of life of unborn children and declare that a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no “independent or derivative rights” in Colorado. . These unborn babies are worth less than those who were given the gift of being born, according to this morally bankrupt logic. At the same time, we would like to publicly thank State Senators Barbara Kirkmeyer, Kevin Priola and Jim Smallwood and Representative Andres Pico, Catholic lawmakers who 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 sinful action because 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.
As we have said with our fellow American bishops in our recent statement “The Mystery 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 person who, by his action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts inconsistently, claiming and rejecting communion at the same time. It is therefore a counter-sign, a lie — it expresses a communion which, in fact, has been broken.
Moreover, to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is sacrilege because it is “a failure to show the respect due to the sacred Body and Blood of Christ”.
Finally, when other Catholics see public figures receiving Jesus in such a spiritual state, their resolve to be faithful to the Gospel can be weakened. A Catholic politician or public figure who directs or encourages others to do evil is a disrespect for the souls of others and is what the Church defines as a “scandal”.
Until public repentance takes place and sacramental absolution is received in Confession, we ask Catholic legislators who live or worship in Colorado and who voted for RHEA, to voluntarily refrain from receiving the Blessed Communion.
The burden of their decision does not rest on the shoulders of priests, deacons or extraordinary lay ministers of the Eucharist. It rests on the conscience and the soul of the politicians who have chosen to support this bad and unjust law.
We pray that this letter and our request to refrain from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist will stimulate sincere reflection and conversion in the hearts of those who participated in allowing this grave act of injustice to become law. This request is not one we make lightly, but since it is our duty to safeguard the faith and care for the souls of all the faithful – including these politicians – we must make it.
We are always willing to engage in conversation with any Catholic politician to whom this applies, and we want you to know that we regularly pray for all those who hold public office.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop of Denver
Bishop Stephen J. Berg, Bishop of Pueblo
Bishop James R. Golka, Bishop of Colorado Springs
Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver