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Statement on Abortion and Excommunication

Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

January 25, 2019
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has released the following statement in response to those who are calling for the excommunication of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:
The passage of the so-called Reproductive Health Act continues to raise questions about the status of Catholics who voted or strongly promoted the sinful actions that this Act now authorizes under color of law. Calls for excommunication have risen in order to highlight the grave moral evil the participants have engaged in and to punish those who on the one hand profess to be Catholic while disregarding the moral teachings of their faith. 
The whole purpose of excommunication is to note the sinner and to bring the person back to the full practice of the faith. It is not meant to satisfy a desire to see some punishment. Excommunication is a very severe measure but it is not intended to be punitive or vindictive, but rather reparative and constructive. 
I heartily commend those legislators who stand on the side of life, especially those who courageously have voted to protect the humanity of the unborn child, in accord with science and right reason, and not along ideological or party lines. They are the true leaders who protect these innocent human lives, the women who choose to welcome them into the world, and the families and communities that will support and nurture them. 
Those who hold public office and continue to alienate themselves from the Catholic faith in their persistent advocacy for the grave moral evil of abortion, as evidenced not only by the promotion of legislation, but also by their scandalous celebration of it, should be aware of the provisions of canon 915 of the law of the Church. According to Church law, to the extent that they continue in such obstinacy, they are not to present themselves for Holy Communion. The same canon leaves it up to the minister of the Sacrament to withhold Communion should such a person request reception. While not a formal excommunication, the law of the Church itself requires observance so long as such conditions persist. 
I encourage all members of the Catholic community to pray for our sisters and brothers who have, by their actions, created such tensions in their communion with their sisters and brothers and thus placed their immortal souls in jeopardy. 
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