Risking the split in the U.S. Catholic Church, the bishops are taking a stand for a Catholic president who supports abortion rights.
A divided conference of Roman Catholic bishops in the United States announced Friday that they will write a statement on Holy Communion that may warn Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, who supports it. abortion rights.
Decision 168-55 to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, a sacred sacrament in the Roman Catholic faith, came after two hours of debate at the virtual assembly of the United States Catholic Episcopal Conference on 17 June, in which the bishops weighed the merit of reaffirming the teachings of the church against the possibility of sowing partisan divisions.
This week’s debate has revealed some of the cultural and political issues that have shaken the church in recent years. Membership in the U.S. Catholic Church has dropped nearly 20 percent in the past two decades, according to a Gallup poll released in March, as sexual abuse participating scandals predatory priests they came to light and members became more and more divided on social issues.
Biden is a lifelong and devout Roman Catholic who supports the ability of women in the United States to end unwanted pregnancies, a grassroots political position of the United States Democratic Party that he now leads. Many American Catholics, however, oppose abortion, believing for religious reasons that the fetus has the right to life.
Bishops in favor of drafting the document insist he will not call any individual politicians by name, but the topic of Biden’s social visions has come up repeatedly in the discussion. Biden, the second Catholic to serve as president of the United States, has alarmed several supporting bishops same-sex marriage and abortion rights, opinions they say are antithetical to church doctrine.
On Friday at a White House event, Biden declined to respond to a reporter’s request about the bishops’ decision. “It’s a private matter and I don’t think it will happen,” Biden said.
Some bishops who defended the drafting of the document argued that they had an obligation to clarify the church’s teachings for all Catholics in light of inconsistencies in the faith and actions of public officials such as Biden.
“Almost every day I talk to people, Catholics … who are confused by the fact that we have a president who professes a devout Catholicism and also advances the most radical pro-abortion agenda in our history,” the bishop said. Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, who supported the drafting of the document.
Opponents said they feared writing the document that could sow a partisan division in the church, and that bishops should take more time to discuss the issue before moving forward.
A Vatican official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, had written the May conference demanding caution over the debate over the abortion views of politicians and the Communion, saying it could become a “source of discord. , ”reported the Catholic News Service.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego argued against the drafting of the document, saying the move would be contrary to the bishops’ goal of uniting Catholics through the sacrament.
“The Eucharist … will inevitably become an instrument in the vicious partisan turbulence that is destroying our nation. It will be impossible to prevent the arming of the Eucharist in partisan battles,” he said.
The 2020 presidential election elections have shown that the Catholic vote is almost split between Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump.
Pope Francis congratulated Biden in a phone call after his election he won even when some Catholic bishops refused to recognize Biden’s ascendancy as president because of this support for abortion rights.
The Conference Doctrine Commission is now scheduled to draft the document before a November meeting when the bishops will review an editable draft.
In 2004, the conference issued a statement saying individual bishops could decide whether to deny communion to Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights.