The Vatican issued a letter to the Catholic bishops of America ahead of an expected debate about whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Joe Biden should be allowed to receive Communion.
Catholic leaders have been grappling with the issue for months, especially because Biden persists in calling himself a devout Catholic while aggressively advocating for the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
At their June meeting, the U.S. bishops are scheduled to vote on a document from their Committee on Doctrine “with the aim of clarifying the church’s stance” on pro-abortion politicians and Communion
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone published a pastoral letter making the case that Biden and pro-abortion politicians should be denied communion. He said denying Communion may be “the only recourse a pastor has left” if pro-abortion politicians refuse to listen to reason and obstinately persist in their sin.
Cordileone’s letter received praise from Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and others. Naumann agreed that Catholic politicians who advocate for abortions are “creating scandal by encouraging others to do evil.”
But Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, S.J., the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has sent a letter to Archbishop José H. Gomez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that may lead to a reconsideration of the plan to debate and vote on the issue.
The letter, dated May 7, comes as a response to a letter on March 30 from Archbishop Gomez to the C.D.F. in which he informed the congregation that the U.S.C.C.B. was preparing to draft such a document.
Cardinal Ladaria thanked the archbishop for this information and for assuring him that the U.S.C.C.B. plans to send the draft text to the C.D.F. “for an informal review, prior to its submission to the body of bishops for a vote.” He concluded by saying the C.D.F. asks that the cardinal’s letter “be shared with all the bishops of the United States.”
Cardinal Ladaria begins the letter by responding at length to Archbishop Gomez’s request that the C.D.F. make available a copy of a letter from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to former cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2004 on the subject. Cardinal Ladaria explained that since it was “in the form of a private letter to the bishops” and Cardinal Ratzinger had stipulated that “these principles were not intended for publication,” the C.D.F. would respect his wish.
In the letter from Cardinal Ladaria, a copy of which was seen by America, he recalls that the issue of a U.S.C.C.B. document on Catholic pro-choice politicians and worthiness for reception of Communion, had been raised during the 2019-20 ad limina visits of the U.S. bishops to Pope Francis. He said the C.D.F. had then “advised that dialogue among the bishops be undertaken to preserve the unity of the episcopal conference in the face of disagreements over this controversial topic.”
The letter from the Vatican encouraged the bishops to have a dialog with pro-abortion politicians first before issuing their guidance:
After doing that, it said the bishops should conduct a similar dialogue with the Catholic politicians “within their jurisdiction who adopt a pro-choice position regarding abortion legislation, euthanasia, or other moral evils, as a means of understanding the nature of their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching.”
Nothing in the letter urged the bishops to dialog with pro-life groups, pro-life elected officials or pro-life Catholic groups.
The letter also began watering down any force a decision by the Catholic bishops would have:
The C.D.F. letter also lays down important markers if the bishops choose to go in this direction. First, it said that if the conference decides “to formulate a national policy on worthiness for Communion,” that “such a statement would need to express a true consensus of the bishops on the matter, while observing the prerequisite that any provision of the conference in this area would respect the rights of individual ordinaries in their dioceses and the prerogatives of the Holy See.”
Cardinal Ladaria said the C.D.F. “advises” the U.S.C.C.B. that “any statement of the conference regarding Catholic political leaders would best be framed within the broad context of worthiness for the reception of Holy Communion on the part of all the faithful, rather than only one category of Catholics, reflecting their obligation to conform their lives to the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ as they prepare to receive the sacrament.”
The letter also watered-down Catholic teaching that abortion and the mass killing of unborn babies is the most important political issue for Catholics:
Significantly, in a comment that challenges the U.S.C.C.B. position that abortion is “the pre-eminent” moral issue, Cardinal Ladaria told the conference’s president that “it would be misleading if such a statement were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest accountability on the part of Catholics.”
Cordileone and others have emphasized that denying Communion has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with morality and care for the person’s soul.
The issue should not be partisan at all and it did not used to be; but Democrat Party leaders now openly reject pro-lifers and only a very few pro-life Democrat politicians remain in office.
It also is not true that only Democrats would be excluded from Communion. Recently, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, a pro-abortion Republican, reportedly was denied Communion in the Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage, according to California Catholic Daily.
In Cordileone’s letter, he quoted Ezekiel 33:8 to emphasize that Catholic leaders have a duty to call out wickedness or else be held responsible along with those who persist in sinning.
“I tremble that if I do not forthrightly challenge Catholics under my pastoral care who advocate for abortion, both they and I will have to answer to God for innocent blood,” Cordileone wrote.
Though Biden professes to be a devout Catholic, he openly defies church teachings about the sanctity of human life. After just 100 days in office, he already surpassed President Barack Obama as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history by ending safety regulations that protect mothers and unborn babies from abortion and forcing taxpayers to fund the billion-dollar abortion industry.