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An overwhelming majority of American Catholic bishops are open to discussing writing a document whose promulgation could bar President Joe Biden from receiving Holy Communion.
More than 85% of bishops on Wednesday voted in favor of an in-depth conversation about how to preach the Catholic Church's teaching on Communion. The council, which includes more than 300 bishops, will consider issuing a statement on "the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church."
Over the next three days, the bishops will discuss in detail whether Catholic politicians such as Biden, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, cause scandal by receiving Communion while in the state of mortal sin. The Catholic Church teaches that Communion is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Receiving Communion while stained with a serious sin, among which the church counts support for abortion, is considered one of the worst offenses against God.
Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, a series of religiously conservative bishops asked the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops to consider speaking forcefully about the Communion issue. As the body's summer meeting drew near, the issue became a contentious intrachurch dispute, with more liberal bishops warning that a statement could politicize the sacrament.
It took more than an hour on Wednesday for the bishops to approve an agenda item focused on the Communion question, an unusual length of time for what are generally collegial proceedings. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez presided over the meeting and assured each attendee that he would get his say on the issue.
Gomez in November said that Biden's continuous reception of Communion could cause confusion for other Catholics about how serious the church is about its opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and transgenderism.
"These policies pose a serious threat to the common good whenever any politician supports them," Gomez said, adding that "when politicians who profess the Catholic faith support them, there are additional problems. Among other things, it creates confusion with the faithful about what the Church actually teaches on these questions."
Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory, on the other hand, said shortly afterward that he did not consider Biden's political deviance from Catholic teaching to be a barrier for Communion. Gregory, who participated in Biden's inauguration, said that he hoped to work with Biden on the questions about abortion and gay marriage.
"We should be a church in dialogue, even with those with whom we have some serious disagreements," Gregory said.
Biden is not the first Catholic politician to face ecclesiastical pushback for his political beliefs. When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, several prominent bishops called for him to be denied Communion over similar issues. But Kerry lost to former President George W. Bush and never again found himself constantly in the national spotlight.
Biden, on the other hand, has made his personal faith a major part of his public persona, raising the stakes over his Communion eligibility. And even without a statement from the American bishops, the president is already facing strong opposition from some Catholic priests, many of whom have quietly decided to deny Biden Communion if he comes to their parish, according to a priest familiar with church proceedings.
Even in Biden's home parish of St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, it is an open question as to whether Biden is allowed to receive Communion. The president at a recent Mass ducked out before the priests began distributing the sacrament, a practice which, according to his churchgoing habits, may be common.
Priests at St. Joseph on the Brandywine did not respond to requests for comment.
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Original Author: Nicholas Rowan
Original Location: Majority of Catholic bishops support considering denying Biden Communion