Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

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Bolivian bishops declare pro-abortion legislators should not receive Communion

Sofia Vazquez-Mellado
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LA PAZ, Bolivia, August 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) –  The Secretary General for the Bolivian Episcopal Conference (BEC), Monsignor José Fuentes, has caused consternation in the nation’s government and media by declaring that government ministers who support the legalization of abortion “shouldn’t receive communion.”

“If they are Catholic they can’t support abortion, and if they’re Catholic and promote a law for abortion, they can’t receive the Eucharist, because in that moment they are not in communion with a value that in the Church is absolute,” said Fuentes. “Life for a Catholic is something that we can’t dispose of, so if a legislator, judge or whatever they may be, paves the way for a law of abortion, he is separating himself from the Church and can’t receive communion unless he demonstrates repentance.”

During a press conference, the bishop was asked if the four government ministers who had recently made public their support for abortion would “have a sign up during mass” forbidding them to receive Communion.

The bishop’s answer was: “Those four ministers can act conscientiously; they will never be expelled from any church, but they wouldn’t have to come forward to receive communion, to receive Christ’s body.”

“Of course, to approve laws that go against life is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, it’s totally incompatible (with Catholicism),” he added.

“The person who aborts, who incites others to abort, as well as those related to healthcare who participate in an abortion, legislators, sin against God, because they become the masters of life, and the only master of life is God,” the bishop explained.

However, the Bolivian newspaper Página7 threw more gasoline on the fire with a headline on its front page that said the bishops had “excommunicated” several ministers of the Bolivian government.  The BEC reacted by stating that the media “shows ignorance towards the norms and procedures that govern the Catholic Church in these matters.”

“We have expressed on many occasions that any person considering themselves to be Catholic, that manifests his or her approval of abortion, is not being coherent with their own faith and is therefore not in communion with the Gospel’s teaching and the Church,” the bishops wrote.

“This doesn’t indicate in any way a decision to excommunicate. The Church’s fundamental mission in society is not to emphasize on punishment measures, but to preach forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Bishop Fuentes’ remarks appear to be based on the Catholic Church’s law, which forbids the administration of Holy Communion to those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” (Canon 915).

In the case of abortion, this includes those who consciously and voluntarily promote public campaigns that support abortion, those who approve its legalization, particularly legislators, judges and authorities, according to a declaration made by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in 2004, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles.”

After all the coming and going, Página7 corrected their report and took down its online version. The editor in chief, Raúl Peñaranda resigned yesterday.

Bolivian president Evo Morales, who seemed unaware of the correction, manifested his support of the four pro-abortion ministers Amanda Dávila, Claudia Peña, Teresa Morales and Roberto Aguilar, and declared that he “forgave” the Bishops and lamented “some bishops still have the Inquisition mentality.”

Morales, who calls himself Catholic, said he was being “tolerant” and that “like Jesus Christ, who has given his life for others”, was willing to offer “the other cheek” in this incident.

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