Bishop Strickland, head of the Diocese of Tyler, said recently that New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has excommunicated himself due to his stances on abortion. Strickland also said that Cuomo should not receive holy communion.
Excommunication is the action of officially excluding someone from participation in the sacraments or services of the Catholic Church. While rarely used, only Bishops can impose this action, which is considered the most severe penalty in the Church.
However, for those who commit very grave sins, the Church allows for someone to be automatically excommunicated.
“Andrew Cuomo makes it clear that he doesn’t believe Catholic teaching and therefore he’s ex-communion. He’s out of communion,” Bishop Strickland said.
“I think to make it clear, and thankfully some of the bishops in other places have taken steps to basically say that, that a politician or anyone who says, ‘I don’t agree with the Catholic Church on basic critical issues,’ they’re choosing to be out of communion.”
Cuomo helped push through an abortion bill in New York that passed in January that expanded a woman’s access to abortion, particularly after 24 weeks.
Strickland tweeted at the time that the sight of the legislature applauding the passage of the bill was “a scene from Hell.” The post was retweeted over 3,000 times.
The video of the “celebration” of New York legislators as they condemned even full term unborn children to Death by Choice is a scene from Hell. Woe to those who ignore the sanctity of life, they reap the whirlwind of Hell. Stand against this holocaust in every way you can.— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) January 25, 2019
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, arguably the most influential Catholic in America, disagrees with calls to excommunicate Cuomo.
“…Excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion,” said the statement.
Dolan went on to write that excommunication should not be used as a weapon.
Strickland is among a group of bishops calling for Catholic politicians who vote in favor of abortion bills to not be able to receive communion.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese said that Sen. Dick Durbin should not be able to receive after he voted against a bill in the U.S. Senate that would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks.
14 Catholics Senators voted against the bill. It only received 51 of the 60 votes required to move the legislation forward.