Las Cruces Bishop Peter Baldacchino defended Life and Truth when he denied a New Mexico state senator Communion because of his public support for abortion. Bishop Baldacchino’s decision follows growing momentum among faithful bishops to uphold Church teaching on Life.
Earlier this year, bishops drafted a document to clarify the Church’s stance on denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians and making the response from Church hierarchy uniform. High profile anti-Life Catholics include President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which has prompted bishops to call for a stronger Pro-Life response from the Church. At this time, the decision to deny politicians Communion remains at the discretion of the local bishop.
According to The Daily Wire, Bishop Baldacchino faced backlash for his decision, and the diocese has publicly defended the decision and continued to stand for Life. State senator Joe Cervantes gained attention and anti-Life sympathy by publicizing the bishop’s action. He tweeted on July 17, “I was denied communion last night by the Catholic bishop here in Las Cruces and based on my political office.” Cervantes added, “My new parish priest has indicated he will do the same after the last was run off. Please pray for church authorities as Catholicism transitions under Pope Francis.”
Christopher Velasquez, the director of communications for the diocese told the Catholic News Agency that it was “unfortunate that a pastoral issue with a member of the local church be publicized.” Contrary to Cervantes’s presentation of events, the representative for the diocese explained that both Bishop Baldacchino and Cervantes’s parish priest tried to contact the senator many times. According to Velasquez, when Cervantes demonstrated public support for anti-Life legislation, Bishop Baldacchino and Cervantes’s local parish priest wrote letters and tried to make contact through other means.
Velasquez said, “Bishop Baldacchino did not receive a response from the senator.” In conclusion, Velasquez said, “He [Cervantes] was contacted multiple times prior, letting him know that if he voted for Senate Bill 10, he should not present himself for communion.”
Regarding Cervantes and his support for decriminalizing abortion, Velasquez said that the bishop’s decision to deny him Communion “has nothing to do with his office or politics, it has to do with Senate Bill 10…with this particular bill, because of what it entails.” Velasquez added that the bishop has “an open door policy” and regularly invites Catholics in the diocese to address concerns directly with his office. Velasquez concluded, “He’s [the bishop]definitely made it a priority of his to make himself available.”
The backlash faced by the diocese of Las Cruces for simply recognizing and acting on well established Church teaching shows how far the influence of the abortion industry goes. Across the country, faithful priests have been reprimanded and even removed from their parishes for speaking the truth about abortion, a truth that is inconvenient for the politically powerful who rely on the campaign dollars of the lucrative abortion industry.
Texas is fortunate to have strong bishops, like Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, who have courageously and unerringly defended Life and rejected the anti-Life powers that seek to divide the Body of Christ. Every Christian must be united in rejecting abortion and standing for Life. Texas Right to Life applauds those bishops who have unequivocally proclaimed the Truth and consistently defended innocent human Life.