Catholic bishops OK Communion guide, avoid issue of pro-choice pols

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Catholic bishops OK Communion guide, avoid issue of pro-choice pols

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly approved new guidance on the issuing of Communion Wednesday, but stopped short of recommending barring politicians who support abortion from receiving the Eucharist.

The guidance, which passed by a vote of 222-8, followed a months-long debate over whether clergy would be advised to provide the sacrament to pro-choice Catholic politicians like President Joe Biden. The vote was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In June, the conference approved the drafting of a “teaching document” that would lay out the ground rules for denying such politicians Communion. While supporters of the measure insisted a rebuke of Biden was needed, opponents argued it would be needlessly divisive.

Conservative bishops had hoped to include their proposal in the guidance passed Wednesday.

President Joe Biden and Pope Francis
Conservative Bishops favor barring communion fro pro-choice politicians like Joe Biden, but the new rules stop short of recommending that.
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The ratified document does include a line that states: ““Lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody Church teaching in their service of the common good.”

Wednesday’s conference meeting came weeks after Biden met with Pope Francis in Rome prior to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland.

“We just talked about the fact that he was happy I’m a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion,” Biden told reporters following the meeting, adding that he and Francis did not discuss the issue of abortion.

Pope Francis and bishop Leonardo Sapienza
The new rules state that people with public authority have a special responsibility to uphold church teaching.
AFP via Getty Images

Earlier this year, Biden had brushed off the possibility he could be denied Communion for his pro-abortion stance. 

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” the second Catholic president told reporters at the White House in June.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington DC and Biden’s pastor, has said he will continue serving the Eucharist to the president. However, in September, Gregory criticized Biden for “not demonstrating Catholic teaching.”

“The Catholic Church teaches and has taught that life, human life, begins at conception,” Gregory said in remarks at the National Press Club.

“Our Church has not changed its position on the morality of abortion,” the archbishop added. “And I don’t see how we could, because we believe that every human life is sacred.”

Despite Wednesday’s vote, the Journal reports that the final decision about whether to allow or deny individuals Communion is left to individual bishops.

Joe Biden Mons. Leonardo Sapienza
Joe Biden, being greeted by Mons. Leonardo Sapienza, met with The Pope weeks ago at COP26. Biden said he and Pope Francis did not discuss abortion.
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