“I was denied communion last night by the Catholic bishop here in Las Cruces and based on my political office. 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,” Las Cruces state Sen. Joe Cervantes tweeted on Saturday.
He explained on Monday that he was denied receiving communion due to him voting in favor of a pro-abortion bill that was signed into law and repealed a 1969 state law criminalizing abortions.
“Since voting to eliminate an unconstitutional and never used New Mexico law, which would imprison women for abortion, some new clergy have decided I am unwelcome at their communion,” he said in a statement Monday.
“While I ordinarily prefer to practice my faith privately with my family, I felt it necessary to address those who would politicize, and thereby belittle, the promises of the Eucharist.”
Cervantes, who has been serving as a Democratic New Mexico senator since 2013, argued he did not vote in favor of the bill to “advocate abortion,” but “to reject the imprisonment of women as a solution to anything.”
“I wanted to encourage values based on inclusivity, understanding, forgiveness and compassion, which are the core of Christ’s teachings,” he continued in his statement.
The director of communications for the Diocese of Las Cruces, Christopher Velasquez, told the Catholic News Agency that multiple church officials, including the bishop, had tried to contact him about his support for the bill ahead of him being denied communion.
“Bishop Baldacchino did not receive a response from the senator,” Velasquez said, adding, “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.”
“It did not happen on the spur of the moment,” Velasquez said of the communion denial.
The denial of communion to Cervantes comes after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted last month to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharist, which is expected to include a section on Catholic politicians who disobey the church’s teachings that abortion is a grave sin.
The church’s renewed discussion on the matter comes amid a debate on whether Catholic Democrats, such as President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, should be allowed to receive communion despite votes in favor of pro-abortion policies.
Biden was asked about the Bishops’ vote last month and whether he thought he would be ultimately denied communion.
“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said at the time.