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SANTA FE, N.M. (CNS) -- Comments made by Catholic legislators in New Mexico in support of abortion and physician-assisted suicide "do not represent" church teaching and "may be confusing to the Catholic faithful," said the state's Catholic bishops.
"It is not appropriate for elected officials to publicly invoke their Catholic faith and to present their personal opinions as official church teaching," the bishops said in a statement. "This misrepresents church teaching and creates a public scandal for the faithful. Furthermore, this action publicly separates a person from communion with the Catholic faith."
"We the bishops of the state of New Mexico speak for the Catholic Church," they said. "We work to uphold the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death through our pastoral ministries and through our legislative advocacy via the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops."
The bishops said they "encourage individuals to live and proclaim their faith. However, they must be steadfast in stating they speak for themselves and do not speak for the Catholic Church."
The March 6 statement was signed by Archbishop John C. Wester and retired Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe; Bishop Oscar Cantu and retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces; and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup. It was issued by the state Catholic conference, the bishops' public policy arm.