Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Bishops discuss Catholic politicians and eligibility for Holy Communion

For Senator Joseph Cervantes of Doña Ana County, it has been four months since politics and religion clashed.

He tweeted at the time:

“I was denied communion by the Catholic bishop here in Las Cruces last night because of my political office. My new pastor has indicated that he will do the same after the last one runs away. Please pray for the ecclesiastical authorities if Catholicism falls Pope Francis passes over, “

Cervantes’ experience follows a national trend of politicians being turned away, largely because of their positions on abortion. Even President Joe Biden was refused communion in some churches.

Cervantes told KOB 4 last summer that he had been forced into a difficult decision by officials from his home church.

“At that last session, the local bishop was new and called for a certain law to be killed in the Legislative Committee and if that didn’t happen I would be acquitted of communion,” said Cervantes.

As early as July, KOB 4 asked the diocese of Las Cruses what this legislation contained. A spokesman told us:

“This is a vote for Senate Bill 10, so what we would consider an abortion law, and abortion is something that goes against the Catholic doctrine of the Church,” said Christopher Velasquez, communications director for the Diocese of Las Cruces.

Cervantes said he has since been invited to come for communion by other Catholic churches across New Mexico and El Paso. But it was Biden’s conversation with Pope Francis that gave Cervantes the courage to go to church at home.

“In this exchange between Biden and the Pope, I felt comfortable introducing myself for communion and took this as a sign that I should,” said Cervantes.

But the conversation about the communion of the Catholic politicians is not over yet. The United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference is meeting in Baltimore this week. One topic they would like to discuss is the definition of holy communion and who can accept it.

“I hope that the bishops will return to the teachings of Christ and the welcoming way that Jesus brought the disciples together as an example and in a welcoming way in communion,” said Cervantes.

The USCCB will meet from Monday, November 15 through Thursday, November 18.

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