Las Vegas Bishop Asks Pro-Abortion Politicians to Refrain from Communion Pope Francis holds a communion bread during the Christmas Eve mass at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, on Dec. 24, 2021. (Photo by Filippo Moonteforte/AFP via Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 02 February 2022 02:41 PM
The bishop of Las Vegas has asked all Roman Catholic politicians who disagree with the Church's teaching on abortion not to present themselves for Holy Communion.
Most Rev. George Leo Thomas, bishop of Las Vegas, made his request after a Jan. 24 Las Vegas Sun opinion column by Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., who urged the U.S. Senate to approve and send the Women's Health Protection Act — legislation to protect the federal right to legal abortion — to President Joe Biden.
"It is my sincere hope that Catholic politicians and Catholics at large take this moment to look deeply into their own hearts, and re-examine the church's moral conviction on the inviolability and dignity of human life," Thomas wrote the same day Lee's column was published.
"If a politician from the Diocese of Las Vegas finds himself or herself at odds with the church's teaching on the sacredness of human life, I ask him or her voluntarily to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion while holding public office.
"I place the onus of that decision upon the individual politician's shoulders, and not on the backs of Pastors or Eucharistic Ministers."
Thomas added that he was available to having a private discussion with any Catholic politician who holds a position contrary to Church teaching on abortion.
Lee, a self-identified practicing Catholic, said the bishop's open letter would not alter her stance in advocating for women’s reproductive rights.
"That choice is one that a woman should be able to make based on her own faith and discussions with her family and doctor," Lee said in an emailed statement to the Sun in response to Thomas' letter. "However, my faith — or anyone else's — should not dictate whether or not a woman has the chance to make her own health care decisions."
In her column, Lee said that, "as a Catholic, I have a deep understanding of the moral dilemma that the choice to have an abortion presents.
"At the same time, the choice to become a mother is an extremely personal one, and that choice should stay between a woman, her family and her doctor," she wrote.
In November, U.S. Catholic bishops paved the way for Biden, also Catholic, to continue receiving communion despite his support of abortion rights.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 222-8 (with three abstentions) to adopt a document that didn't address whether those who advocate for widespread access to abortions could be denied the sacrament of Holy Communion.