First day of US bishops’ meeting marked by division over Eucharist for abortion promoters

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Thu Jun 17, 2021 - 1:01 pm EST
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Archbishop Jose Gomez, during the Spring Assembly 2021 USCCB screenshot

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The first day of the Spring General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was described by USCCB president Archbishop José Gomez as “fruitful.” Nevertheless, it revealed the amount of division among the bishops over the issue of Holy Communion for abortion promoters: Early debate was sparked about the format of the agenda, and regarding the amount of time to be given to discussing the proposed document drawn up by the Committee on Doctrine on a “formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”

While no vote is to take place on the proposed document until the end of the second day (June 17), the document’s text was at the forefront of the minds not only of the hundreds of virtually assembled clergy, but also of the members of the media who were allowed to pose questions at the post-meeting press conference.

Archbishop Rozanski and pro-LGBT Bishop Stowe were two prominent figures among several bishops who asked for unlimited time to discuss the document, which would allude to pro-abortion Joe Biden’s reception of Holy Communion, a subject which would be covered as part of the document. Rozanski stated that the matter was too important to be rushed by the prescribed time limit of 5 minutes discussion per bishop.

However, this motion was overruled by a number of bishops, including Archbishops Cordileone, Sample, Naumann, and Coakley. Naumann, the USCCB Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, even called the request a “delay tactic” to avoid a decision, while Sample noted that a certain limited amount of time was necessary in order to at least make any progress on the document.

Rozanski’s motion to delay failed, with 59% of bishops voting against it. The general agenda of the conference was approved by 86% of bishops.

Sensing the heightened focus on the Eucharistic document, Bishop Rhoades, the chairman of the doctrine committee, intervened to say that the proposed document was broader than reception of the Eucharist by pro-abortion politicians.

It remains to be seen what exactly will be in the document, assuming its language is approved by the bishops in their vote later today.

Reference was made to the May letter sent by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), warning USCCB president Archbishop Gomez away from drawing up a policy on giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians who call themselves Catholic. “In light of Cardinal Ladaria’s letter, we are not intending to propose any kind of national norms” for the reception of the Holy Eucharist, stated Rhoades.

Notably, Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich also called for a discussion with Catholic politicians who hold views contrary to the teaching of the Church, regretting the fact it had not yet happened, while the Papal Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, issued an address calling for a “synodal” Church, which would be marked by encounter, dialogue, and accompaniment, and urging the bishops to be guided by Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

Pierre also urged people to avoid “moralism” and engage in dialogue, the goal of which “should be unity and not merely doctrinal and juridical unity.” The family “teaches the art of unity in diversity,” he stated, calling for the Church to be such a family.

As chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone presented a preview of its work entitled Called to the Joy of Love, the pastoral framework proposed for the year of Amoris Laetitia. Primarily directed to bishops and priests, and secondarily to the families, Cordileone stated that the program proposes four pillars for strengthening family life: prayer, formation, accompaniment, and advocacy.

It purportedly looks to protect the role of parents as primary educators.

Cardinal Cupich protested against the draft document, noting there was no use of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, which infamously proposes Holy Communion for the divorced and “re-married,” defending the move as an act of the Church accompanying Catholics in a variety of situations.

Cordileone responded by referencing the underlying accompaniment promoted by the document, a point which was defended by Bishop Burbidge in comments made to the press, who mentioned that the document was written with such “accompaniment” as a key principle and would assist the clergy to accompany people in “various circumstances.” LifeSiteNews has not been able to see a draft copy of the proposed document, on which a vote will be taken June 17.

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LifeSiteNews took part in the press conference after the meeting, joined by members of the mainstream and Catholic media, hoping to question the USCCB on doctrinal matters, particularly relating to the continued support by some U.S. bishops for same-sex blessing, in spite of the Vatican’s recent ban on such blessings. However, the allotted question time did not provide LifeSite with a chance to have questions answered.

Much remains to be decided on the second day of the spring meeting, with the public session live-streamed on the afternoon of June 17. In this session, the bishops will vote on nine action items. The last item to be discussed is the request to draft the document on the Eucharist. The results of the debate and vote will be revealed Friday, June 18.

  eucharistic coherence, jose gomez, usccb, usccb spring 2021

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