The nation’s Catholic bishops will not vote on whether or not to withhold communion from pro-abortion politicians like Joe Biden.
“We are no longer proposing a national policy” regarding who may present themselves for Communion, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Indiana’s Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese told delegates to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting late today. He called the idea of whether to deny pro-abortion politicians communion one that “was in the original proposal to the administrative committee, but we never meant it as it’s been interpreted in many media sources.”
The bishops had been slated to examine a propsal to write guidelines about pro-abortion politicians and communion and the idea had received considerable media attention in the days leading up to this first day of the national conference for the bishops. Instead, they will vote on an outline regarding the role of communion in public life.
The Washington Times reports that the bishop said the Vatican had been initiating the idea of talks concerning communion and pro-abortion politicians event though the Vatican had come under fire for repeately warning the bishops about going too far.
According to Bishop Rhoades, the idea of setting a standard for the administration of Communion in the United States came from the Vatican’s chief doctrinal panel.
“As a matter of fact, the whole idea of a national policy didn’t come from the [bishop’s] Committee on Doctrine. It came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” as the two groups consulted, Bishop Rhoades told a news conference after the meeting. He added that the Vatican office “saw differences of opinion among bishops regarding who should receive Holy Communion. So that’s really where we got that idea from.”
Arlington, Virginia, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge also emphasized the preliminary nature of this week’s discussions and potential vote to proceed with the drafting of a document on the Eucharist.
Bishop Burbidge said what “the bishops are seeing Thursday is merely an outline. And with the vote to go forward with it, then that full process of discussion and amendments — the bishops will have plenty of time to weigh in on that.”
Earlier in the day, bishops voted to limit the amount of time on the debate over whether or not to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist and pro-abortion elected officials. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis moved to change the agenda to allow for unlimited debate but 59% of bishops voted against Archbishop Rozanski’s motion.
According to the Catholic News Agency, “Bishop John Stowe of Lexington emphasized the need to ‘discuss, and take our time” about such a document on the Eucharist. “It seems that some of the brother bishops want to rush this discussion,” he said, advocating the need to “take our time with something that is so important and so delicate.'”
Other bishops said the vote would merely be on whether to begin drafting a document and not on the text of the document itself, so they voted to limit debate.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas said that a “full discussion” among the bishops “will really best be accomplished when we have a draft of the document” – which could be accomplished by the bishops’ fall meeting in November, if they vote to move ahead with the drafting of it this week.
As CNA reports, the outline that bishops will vote on Thursday does include a section on “Eucharistic consistency,” or general worthiness to receive Communion.
“The doctrine committee also noted the particular responsibility of Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching. However, the entire proposed outline includes many other aspects of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, including the real presence of Jesus, the importance of Sunday, and recovering a sense of the Eucharist as a sacrifice,” it added.
A new poll of faithful Catholics finds 74% of regular churchgoers say pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Joe Biden should not present themselves for communion.
The poll, conducted by the CRC Research polling firm for the pro-life group CatholicVote, found 74% of Catholics who attend mass regularly did not think pro-abortion politicians should show up for communion and another 83% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass say these pro-abortion politicians “create confusion and disunity” because they do not follow the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.
According to the survey, 87% of Catholics agree that the Church has a longstanding pro-life position and has “has long taught that certain issues are of grave moral importance, such as abortion.” Another 83% say “Catholic bishops should publicly defend all Catholic teachings” and 90% agree the bishops “have an obligation to teach and lead others in matters of faith and moral.”
The results come even as a majority of those surveyed approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president. The poll of Catholics also found 49% voted for Trump while 51% voted for Biden.
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, said in a statement accompanying the poll that “Catholic politicians who advocate for policies considered ‘gravely immoral’ create confusion and discord among believers.”
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“Catholics’ concern about the flouting of Catholic social teaching by public leaders is less about politics and more about the integrity of the faith, along with reverence and respect due the Holy Eucharist,” Burch said.
“This polling data should bolster the confidence of Catholic bishops as they prepare to discuss how to recover an understanding of the beauty and richness of the sacrament – among all Catholics. The data is very clear: Bishops have an obligation to act,” he added.
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.