U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops this week are expected to revisit whether President Joe Biden's support for abortion rights should disqualify him from receiving communion, an issue that has deepened rifts in the church since the Democrat took office.
At a mid-November conference in Baltimore, the bishops are scheduled to vote on a document clarifying the meaning of Holy Communion, a sacrament central to the faith.
A committee drafted the document after the bishops' June conference, where they debated whether to take a position on the eligibility of prominent Catholics such as Biden - whose political actions they say contradict church teaching - to receive communion.
Biden, the first Catholic president since John F. Kennedy, has said he personally opposes abortion but supports a woman's right to choose.
Last month, his administration called on the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.
(September 2, 2021) WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI: “He believes it’s a woman’s right, a woman’s body, and it’s her choice.”
The issue has divided the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and pitted more conservative Catholics against those who support the president's views.
One Pew Research survey showed some 55% of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 59% of the general population.
Biden met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican last month and said afterward that the pope had told him he was a "good Catholic" who can receive communion.
Prior to that meeting, Pope Francis appeared to criticize U.S. bishops for dealing with the issue in a political rather than a pastoral way.