US bishops to face problem of pro-abortion Biden receiving Holy Communion in June meeting

The USCCB's doctrinal committee is already examining a document on 'eucharistic coherence.'
Thu Apr 29, 2021 - 4:46 pm EST
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Joe Biden, October 22, 2020 NumenaStudios /

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UNITED STATES, April 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. bishops will decide at their upcoming meeting in June what they’re going to do about the problem of having a Catholic president who receives Holy Communion while championing positions on life, marriage, and the family that are explicitly contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

A doctrinal committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is now examining a document on “eucharistic coherence” that aims at clarifying the Church’s stance when it comes to dealing with Catholic politicians who champion abortion while receiving Holy Communion.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said that such a stance by a public figure is a “grave moral evil” that must be addressed.

“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” Naumann told the Associated Press (AP) in an April 28 report. “It can create confusion … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”

Naumann said that if the document on eucharistic coherence is approved in June, it would make clear the USCCB’s position on pro-abortion politicians presenting themselves for Communion.

While the committee has not released details about the document, Naumann confirmed with the AP that the matter will be discussed at the USCCB’s June meeting. The “bishops will vote on whether the committee should continue working on the document so it could be publicly released later,” reported the AP about the upcoming meeting.

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Earlier this month, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila wrote a hard-hitting piece explaining why pro-abortion politicians who say they are Catholic — without mentioning President Biden by name — cannot receive Holy Communion according to Church teaching. Aquila joined the company of several high-ranking Catholic shepherds, such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, the above-mentioned Archbishop Naumann, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in making the case that pro-abortion politicians such as Biden must be denied Communion to safeguard the sacrament, to avoid scandal, and to call the sinner to repentance.

The Catholic Church teaches (Code of Canon Law, can. 915) that Catholics who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” According to a 2004 memo issued to the U.S. bishops by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who is now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a Catholic politician who is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” manifests “formal cooperation” with grave sin and must be “denied” the Eucharist.

There are a number of so-called progressive bishops, however, who have characterized the effort to deny pro-abortion politicians Holy Communion as misguided, some of them going as far as saying that, despite Church teaching, they would give Biden Holy Communion. Among these bishops are Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego.

The AP reported that Bishop Stowe predicts that the “eucharistic coherence” document will, in the words of the AP report, “win overwhelming approval” and receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote for the document to be finalized.

The bishops’ upcoming meeting and expected topic of discussion regarding Biden and Communion is generating mainstream media attention. Not all of it is favorable to the bishops. The Washington Post suggested in a tweet about its report on the matter that a “rising group of right-wing U.S. Catholic bishops is colliding with a very Catholic president who supports abortion rights.”

Mary Margaret Olohan, a Catholic who is a Social Issues Reporter for the Daily Caller, took the Washington Post to task on Twitter for what she said was its “incredibly ignorant framing” of the issue.

“For reference, @washingtonpost, the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is ‘a crime against human life,’ ‘constitutes a grave offense’ and that a person who obtains an abortion is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church,” she tweeted.

“The problem is, WaPo doesn’t actually care about what the Catholic Church teaches. WaPo cares how they can weaponize the Catholic faith,” she added.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the AP that he hopes that a statement from the USCCB to pro-abortion politicians will “move them in their conscience” to do the right thing.

“They need to understand the scandal that is caused when they say they are faithfully Catholic and yet oppose the church on such a basic concept,” he said.

  canon 915, catholic, eucharistic coherence, holy communion, joe biden, joseph naumann, pro-abortion catholic politicians, usccb

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