U.S. Catholic bishops approve steps toward possible rebuke of Biden

Ruben Hill
June 19, 2021

Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have voted to draft a document on the Eucharist, green lighting a controversial effort championed by a group of conservative clerics who have called for denying Communion to President Joe Biden and other Catholic Democrats who support abortion rights.

The vote was announced Friday (June 18) on the final day of the USCCB's annual spring meeting, with 168 voting yes, 55 voting no and six abstaining.

Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, said during Thursday's debate that he speaks with many people who are confused by a Catholic president who advances "the most radical pro-abortion agenda in history", and action from the bishops' conference is needed.

As a result of the vote, the USCCB's doctrine committee will draft a statement on the meaning of Communion in the life of the church that will be submitted for consideration at a future meeting, probably an in-person gathering in November. Once completed, the statement could include guidelines for denying Communion to public officials.

Biden was mentioned by name or alluded to several times, including by Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in or, who described what he sees as an "unprecedented situation in the country".

A section within the document will specifically reprimand catholic politicians and public figures that disobey church teachings on abortion and other "core doctrine issues".

"The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman's safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory", they said, urging the bishops to abide by Pope Francis's guidance. He did not keep a Hyde Amendment ban on federal funds for abortions in his first budget presented earlier this year.

Joe Biden is the second Catholic elected USA president, after John F Kennedy.

Bishop Robert M. Coerver of Lubbock, Texas, also played into Dias' narrative. "And I think we need to be real careful not to get embroiled in the political situation".

In 2004, the conference published a statement that said individual bishops could decide whether to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights.

Biden, a Catholic who has always been a proponent of abortion, responded to a reporter's question on Friday about the bishops' vote.

That would leave decisions about Communion for specific churchgoers up to individual bishops and archbishops. But many Catholics - like Americans in general - are starkly divided on the issue by party; more than half of Catholics who also identify as Republicans said Biden should not be allowed to receive the sacrament because of his views on abortion.

Asked on Friday if he was concerned by the bishops' decision and if he would be blocked from participating in Holy Communion, Biden said, "That's a private matter and I don't think that's going to happen". "Are you concerned about the rift in the Catholic Church and how do you feel personally about that?"

He wrote to the conference saying it would be "misleading" to suggest abortion and euthanasia were "the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics".

One of the most vehement Catholic critics of Biden's political positions has been Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. According to church teaching, Catholics are expected to be free of any significant, unconfessed sin and in what's known as a "state of grace" when receiving communion.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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