SANTA FE, N.M. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishops of New Mexico are speaking out against Catholic politicians who cite their Catholic faith as their reason for backing legislation favoring abortion and doctor-assisted suicide.
Statements by a pro-abortion politician in New Mexico, claiming her Catholic faith justified her choice to vote down pro-life legislation, garnered a sudden rebuke from New Mexico's bishops.
A statement from the five bishops comprising the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 6 affirmed:
[W]e are concerned by public statements by some legislators that seem to say that a faithful Catholic can support abortion or doctor-assisted suicide. Support for abortion or doctor-assisted suicide is not in accord with the teachings of the Church. These represent the direct taking of human life and are always wrong.
New Mexico state Rep. Patricia Caballero claimed her Catholic faith led her to follow her conscience and block two pro-life measures. The first bill would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The second bill required parental notification prior to minors procuring an abortion.
Defending her choice to derail both measures Caballero claimed:
My Catholic faith teaches me women and men have the right to make their own decisions based on the dictum of their own consciences. I respect life in all forms, and I firmly believe these very deep and personal, complex decisions must remain with the woman, her doctors, her family and her faith, and certainly not in the chambers of government.
Following Caballero's statement, Allen Sánchez, executive director for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, told state legislators that Abp. John Wester of Sante Fe was perturbed.
Speaking for Abp. Wester, Sánchez related, "We must use our conscience, and he agrees with that, but it needs to be a formed conscience. A lack of formed conscience can create havoc and problems." Seemingly referring to the fact that such pro-abortion politicians excommunicate themselves from the Church, Sánchez continued, "Especially when a public or elected person identifies themselves as Catholic and uses that to justify a vote for abortion ... that person is themselves separating themselves."
In their joint statement, the New Mexico's bishops reiterated Catholic teaching, "It is not morally permissible for a Catholic to support abortion or doctor-assisted suicide."
The bishops in their statement defended their right to be involved in political questions that have moral implications. They said they do this in the following ways:
Preaching the Gospel in public and private meetings with legislators
Meeting with the legislature to voice the Church's priorities
Taking the Gospel to the public square in public meetings and hearings
Praying for legislators
Aiding in the formation of consciences
Three days after the bishops published their statement, Caballero helped block legislation requiring doctors to provide life-saving medical care for infants who survived botched abortions.