The U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB) is currently drafting a document to clarify the issue of reception of Holy Communion especially regarding public figures who promote abortion-on-demand.
Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told the Associated Press (AP) that the matter will be discussed at the USCCB’s meeting in June and the bishops will vote on whether the committee should continue working on the document for eventual public release.
The bishops are expected to overwhelmingly approve the project, AP reported Wednesday, which is the fruit of a decision by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, to form a working group to address the “complex and difficult situation” posed by having a Catholic president — Joe Biden — with public positions on abortion and other key moral issues that flout Church teaching.
The working group assigned the drafting of a new document on the issue of Holy Communion to the USCCB’s doctrine committee. If approved, the document would make clear that Biden and other public figures who publicly work to advance egregious moral evils should not present themselves for Communion, Naumann said.
In a January 20 statement, Archbishop Gomez pointed out the glaring contradiction between Biden’s positions on vital moral issues and his purported Catholic faith.
“I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender,” Gomez wrote. “Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.”
The archbishop’s statement reflected the bishops’ ongoing concern over Biden’s enthusiastic support for Planned Parenthood, his opposition to school choice, his attacks on the Little Sisters of the Poor, his support for gender transition even for minors, his repeal of legislation protecting U.S. taxpayers from financing abortion domestically and abroad, his promotion of same-sex marriage, and other related issues.
President Biden has been on a collision course with the U.S. bishops even before taking office, and his relationship with Church leadership has eroded even further as he has taken actions to advance projects antithetical to Catholic belief.
In early April, Catholic League President Bill Donohue wrote that Biden has a “rocky” relationship with the U.S. bishops, which is not going away.
“It’s time for President Biden to stop living a lie,” Donohue noted, in reference to Biden’s continued participation in Catholic sacraments while overtly promoting abortion on demand and other injustices.
In his essay, Donohue cited nine U.S. bishops who have been highly critical of Biden’s situation, several of whom have insisted the president should cease receiving Holy Communion at Mass until he repents of his abortion position.
The former head of the Vatican’s supreme court, Cardinal Raymond Burke said Biden should not receive Communion because he is not a Catholic “in good standing,” Donohue noted.
As Breitbart News reported last December, former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said Biden’s support for gay marriage and abortion rights meant that he “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic” and “should not receive Holy Communion.”
“Public figures who identify as ‘Catholic’ give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional,” Chaput wrote. “And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege.”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Bishop David Malloy also issued a joint statement sharply criticizing Biden for promoting abortion overseas.
“It is grievous that one of President Biden’s first official acts actively promotes the destruction of human lives in developing nations,” they said, adding that this measure “is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching.”
In February, Naumann declared that Biden “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic” because he is “100% pro-choice on abortion.” Naumann also called on his fellow bishops “to correct him, as the president is acting contrary to the Catholic faith.”
Shortly afterward, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, stated that “Biden is not a real Catholic,” and Tennessee Bishop Richard Stika called Biden “dishonest” for bragging about his Catholic background.
Not long afterward, Springfield Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki said Biden “should not present himself” for Communion because of his long history of supporting abortion rights.
If politicians are “living in a way or holding positions that are contrary to church teaching, then the Minister of Communion has to deny them the sacrament,” stated Paprocki, a canon lawyer.
Cardinal Burke followed up by saying that “a person who claims to be Catholic and yet promotes in such an open, obdurate, and aggressive way a crime like procured abortion is in the state, at least, of apostasy,” the penalty for which is “excommunication.”
In Wednesday’s report, the AP notes that progressive bishops such as John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego have opposed the idea of refusing Communion to the president, while observing that they are in a clear minority.
McElroy and Stowe, as well as Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory, have advocated following the approach formulated by former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who in 2004 vocally opposed refusing Holy Communion to Catholic Secretary of State John Kerry, who also supported abortion rights.
McCarrick opposed instructions received from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which asserted that priests “must” deny the sacrament if a politician goes to receive Communion despite an “obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,” such as consistently campaigning for permissive abortion laws.