The nation’s Catholic bishops have voted overwhelmingly in favor of drafting a document on communion that could rebuke pro-abortion politicians like Joe Biden depending on how it’s worded.
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have voted to draft a new document on the Eucharist, after conservative bishops lobbied their colleagues to speak out more vocally about abortion advocates like Biden who flout the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.
After two days of debate, the USCCB announced the results of the vote today, with 168 bishops voting yes to create a new document on communion and public life, 55 voting no, and 6 abstaining. With a majority voting in the affirmative, the bishops will now draft the document and then discuss and debate it at another annual meeting scheduled for November.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, made it clear on Wednesday that the bishops would not draft a document that specifically denies communion to pro-abortion politicians and it may not even hand down a policy on how to deal with pro-abortion politicos who want to remain in good standing with the Catholic Church. Instead, the document will likely consist of guidelines that are more of a a “teaching document on how communion can be more consistent, while leaving the actual decision about receiving or denying communion to individual bishops. it would encourage pro-abortion politicians to get in line with the Church’s pro-life teachings.
“The statement will be addressed to all Catholics,” the outline approved today reads, though it notes it would also “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”
The text of the proposal itself has not been written, and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote during the November meeting — something potentially achievable given the 3-1 majority vote to begin the drafting process. But how far it will go to rebuke Biden and pro-abortion politicians is another question.
When asked at a press conference on Thursday following the vote if Biden should be able to receive communion because of his pro-abortion views, Bishop Rhoades said, “I can’t answer that question.”
“We will be looking at that whole issue of Eucharistic consistency. … When you look at cannon law, that is a decision of his bishop,” he added.
Before the vote, bishops on both sides of the divide forcefully articulated their positions.
Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin says he speaks with many parishioners who are confuse why Biden, who bills himself as a faithful Catholic, can get away with running so far astray from the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church while advances “the most radical pro-abortion agenda in history.” Because of that, he said the Catholic bishops must take action.
“They’re looking for direction,” Hying said.
But Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego typifies the attitude of those bishops opposed to what they call a far-reaching decision on the sacrament. He said the Catholic Church would suffer “destructive consequences” from a document targeting Catholic politicians, according to an AP report.
“It would be impossible to prevent the weaponization of the Eucharist,” McElroy said. “We will invite all of the political animosities that divide our nation into the heart of the Eucharistic sacrament.”
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C. is on that side as well and said Biden is welcome to receive communion in his churches despite aggressively promoting the killing of unborn babies.
“The choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves or settle for creating a document that will not bring unity but may very well further damage it,” Gregory said.
The chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, says the burden of the current debate is borne by Biden and other pro-abortion Catholic politician who insist on promoting abortion in the face of the Catholic Church working so hard to protect babies.
“It’s not the bishops who have brought us to this point — it’s some of our public officials,” he said, according to AP. “This is a Catholic president doing the most aggressive things we’ve ever seen on life at its most innocent.
And San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who is one of the most vocally pro-life bishops, agreed that the time is now to enforce some measure of accountability.
“The eyes of the whole country are on us right now,” he said. “If we do not act courageously in presenting this teaching document clearly and convincingly on this core Catholic value, how can we expect to be taken seriously on any other topic?”
As LifeNews has reported, nation’s Catholic bishops would 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 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.
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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.”
“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, 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.