Chaos in Afghanistan and trillion dollar ”infrastructure” bills have pushed the Biden communion scandal out of the headlines, but don’t worry, it will be back. If the U.S. bishops insist that public officials who claim to be Catholic actually follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, the outrage machine will roar back to life.
At its meeting in June, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to draft a position paper on the ”meaning of the Eucharist,” which we Catholics believe is the body of Christ. As they work on this document, I have written an open letter to them, urging them to defend the Church, her teachings, and the unborn against the actions of government leaders who advocate and advance the killing of children by abortion, including politicians who call themselves Catholic — especially those who claim to be the leader of the free world and the devout Catholic-in-chief.
Debate has raged for decades about whether public officials who support abortion should be cut off from this core sacrament. It was bad enough for Church-loving Catholics to hear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extolling her own Catholic virtue while at the same time describing abortion as ”sacred ground,” but then along came Biden and his media henchmen, who remind us each and every day what a good and faithful Catholic he is.
Except, of course, he’s not. I wrote a letter to then-candidate Biden during the run up to the 2020 election, pointing out that ”to fail to advocate for and advance the protection of children in the womb, when it is in your power to do so, is itself a contradiction of what it means to be Catholic.”
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You can’t be a faithful Catholic and advocate killing. (I said the same thing in an open letter to Pelosi in 2013.)
The bishops have the power to do something about this, so I have issued this letter to them now as they wrestle with the question of how to respond to the persistent refusal of some Catholics in public life to respect the unique role of the bishops to teach what it means to be a Catholic in relation to public policy.
In the letter, I say, ”You are certainly as well aware as I am of the sacrifices made by so many Catholics to live their faith. They examine their consciences and repent of sin each day, they go to Confession, they prepare diligently for the reception of Holy Communion, they strive to avoid the occasions of sin — sometimes at great cost to their personal and professional lives — and they yearn to bring others to experience the joy of the relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church that they have found.
”It is precisely because of the sacrifices that they make to live the faith that they find it so offensive that some Catholics in very visible and influential positions in America — such as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi — have no qualms about professing their ‘Catholic’ identity while holding views that contradict it, and pursuing vigorously and publicly programs of action that implement those contrary views.”
The statement I sent to the bishops – which expressed the convictions of many of the faithful here in the United States and in other countries – is offered in the context of the Church as the Body of Christ, a communion in which all share an equal dignity, a joint baptismal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and a rightful expectation that all of us may engage in an honest and mutual sharing of information, expertise and concern.
Priests for Life has a long history of working in a spirit of cooperation with the bishops of the United States and the Church worldwide, whether in direct assistance to their own efforts to protect the unborn and to provide healing after abortion, or in defending them against the attacks of those who hate the Church, or in echoing far and wide the clear and consistent teaching they have articulated in many documents.
That clear and consistent teaching, however, needs to become more explicit. In exposing moral evils, we have to name names — the Democratic Party and its leaders. I point out in my letter:
”The actions of people like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi in our country today are not about fellow Catholics who are dealing with the ”weaknesses” that we all have in walking the way of Christ. They are, instead, about leaders deliberately, creatively, and energetically implementing the agenda of a political party that has embraced, strongly and explicitly, positions that violate the most fundamental rights of human life and freedom. They are not stumbling along the path of discipleship with the rest of us; they are running in the opposite direction.”
This is what too many bishops are afraid to say, and in many cases, it is because of a lack of confidence that their message will be heard and that the faithful will support them when they deliver it. I cite the example in the letter of a conversation I had with several bishops in a state where an initiative defending traditional marriage had just won at the ballot box, with the eager cooperation of the churches.
Had I not known that our position had prevailed, I would never have concluded that from the conversation. They were saying that the more they say on these issues, the less the people listen to them!
On the contrary, it’s time for all of us — as we carry out our own mission with confidence — to strengthen the confidence of our spiritual leaders. As I say in my letter, ”The faithful are indeed with you if you lead them; they will listen if you speak; they will respond heroically if you lead heroically.”