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June 18, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. bishops’ conference voted 168-55 to move forward with the drafting of a formal statement on the Eucharist. The document will address Church teaching on worthiness to receive Holy Communion, and thus directly affect the reception of the Eucharist by pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

The proposal for a document “On the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church” was initiated at the request of Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, in part as a response to what Bishop Liam Cary called an “unprecedented situation in the country,” that is, the circumstance of a self-professed Catholic president “who is opposed to the teaching of the Church,” particularly the teaching on the grave intrinsic evil of abortion.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) doctrine committee, explained in a pre-recorded address to his fellow bishops that the document would “address the fundamental truths we believe” about the Eucharist, including “the Real Presence” and its sacrificial character. It would also “focus on the need to celebrate the sacrament with reverence and beauty,” and a third section would express “how participation in the Eucharist compels us to conversion.”

A subset of this third part of the document would address “Eucharistic consistency,” said Rhoades, referring to the need for Catholics to receive our Lord in Holy Communion only in a state of grace.

The outline for the document has sparked controversy among some Catholic clergy and laymen because of worries that, in the words of Cardinal Cupich, “there is an expectation” “that we deny communion to the president, to Speaker Pelosi, and to other people that are being named.”

Despite a lively streak of opposition to the drafting of the document, and particularly to its planned reference to Church teaching on worthiness to receive Holy Communion, the bishops’ debate on the issue revealed that the proposal had strong support.

“There was a consensus among the members of the committee on doctrine, that one cannot discuss the centrality of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life without addressing those actions that inflict damage to the honor due to the sacrament, or cause scandal to the faithful,” stated Rhoades in his pre-recorded address, aired yesterday during the USCCB’s Spring General Assembly.

Rhoades further explained, in anticipation of objections to the proposal, “It was never our thought to propose national norms for denying Catholics Holy Communion, but to provide a clear understanding of why our Church has these laws, outlining the rich tradition and profound teaching that is the basis for these canons.

“In addition, the statement was never considered by the committee on doctrine to be a statement about any one individual, or about any one category of sinful behavior. Rather, it would bring heightened awareness among the faithful of the need to be conformed to the Eucharist and to bear public witness to the faith through a call to conversion and the abandonment of sinful behavior,” Rhoades continued.

During the bishops’ discussion, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco issued a stirring call for support of the proposal: “The eyes of the whole country are on us now. If we fail now and do not act courageously in presenting Church teaching — again, this is a teaching document, comprehensive — in presenting this teaching clearly and convincingly, on this core Catholic value, how can we expect to be taken seriously when speaking on any other topic?”

“I would remind all of us of the biblical injunction that Saint John Paul II repeated throughout his pontificate … ‘Be not afraid,’” concluded Cordileone.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the USCCB pro-life committee, unapologetically argued for the pressing need for the proposed document in the face of a pro-abortion president who identifies as Catholic.

“Those who advocate for abortion no longer talk in the language of choice. They talk about it as a right … our president talks about it as a right,” said Naumann. “This is a Catholic president that’s doing this, the most aggressive thing we’ve ever seen in terms of this attack on life when it’s most innocent.”

Bishop Strickland, who urged his fellow bishops to “emphasize the clear connection between repentance, confession of sins, firm purpose of amendment, and worthily receiving our Lord,” also insisted that “prominent persons can’t be held to a different standard.”

Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, added, “I converted when I was in college and it was really the Catholic teaching on the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence that drew me into the Catholic Church. I think we have a wonderful opportunity, a stage, a national, an international stage to do something really beautiful and powerful.”

Cordileone commented in response to the vote to move forward with the document, “At this historic time in the Church, I would exhort us all to remember the Eucharistic martyrs who died to protect the Most Blessed Sacrament from profanation, and to take heart.”

“I look forward to continuing fruitful dialogue with all my brother bishops, and I place my trust in the Holy Spirit to guide us to a real and not feigned unity in Christ. I ask all Catholics to pray for their own bishop, and for all of us bishops as we discern the best way to speak these profound truths about the Holy Eucharist.”

The document draft will be discussed by the bishops in November when they re-convene for their Fall General Assembly.