Biden, Pelosi Could Be Denied Communion After US Catholic Bishops’ Vote

Bishop Ralph Walker Nickless of Sioux City celebrated Mass with members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Region IX in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica on Jan. 16 2020 during their ad Limina Apostolorum visit to the Vatica

Some bishops want the report to be a broader teaching tool for all Catholics about the importance of the sacrament of communion and they have been reminding their fellows of the Pope's exhortation to avoid divisiveness.

In a Thursday vote of 168 to 55, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to draft what they called a "teaching document" that would authorize American bishops to withhold the Eucharist from politicians who support or defend abortion rights.

Holy Communion is the most important ritual in the Catholic Christian faith. The bishops had cast their votes privately on Thursday after several hours of impassioned debate.

Anti-abortion advocates already see political opportunity in the bishops' plan. The latest, signed into law on Wednesday by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, would automatically ban abortion in the Lone Star State if the US Supreme Court were to overturn its 1973 ruling in the Roe vs. Wade case. The Most Rev Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, warned such a document would lead to the "weaponisation" of the Eucharist (the more formal name name for Holy Communion).

The vote on the proposal - which advocates describe as a broad "teaching document" that does not overrule the right of individual bishops to decide questions of Communion denial for their own diocese - was the culmination of a years-long controversy that stretches from a SC church to the White House to the Vatican, with Catholic prelates giving voice to a range of opinions about whether politicians who back abortion rights should be denied the Eucharist.

However, although it will be a form of national policy, it will not be binding.

Biden, an abortion rights advocate who is the first Catholic US president in almost 60 years, is the most openly religious president since Jimmy Carter. The decision on whether Biden should be allowed to receive Communion would still be left up to individual bishops, as is standard for all churchgoers, but a new document would inform those decisions.

The idea to produce a document was first developed by a working group commissioned by Conference of Catholic Bishops president José H. Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, support abortion measures, which goes against the church's teaching.

Catholics for Choice, an abortion rights group, said it was profoundly saddened by the move. Six bishops abstained from the vote.

But she said the minority of bishops who spoke out against it provided a glimmer of hope. Biden as the nation's second Roman Catholic president. He could be the first president to be denied Communion by his Church - a remarkable development that emphasises the divisive nature of abortion in USA politics and religious life.

President Joe Biden commented on potentially being denied Communion at the Catholic Church on Friday, saying it was a private matter and that it was not going to happen.

Nevertheless, at a time when the Catholic Church has been beset by a decades-long paedophilia scandal and membership has declined, the decision to consider punishing perhaps the best-known American Catholic - a man who attends Mass weekly and regularly speaks of his faith - comes with considerable risk.

The USCCB has identified the fight against abortion as its "preeminent" priority.



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