The US Bishops and the Communion Controversy: Blame Biden, Pelosi and the Media


National Catholic Register Editors

The U.S. bishops will gather Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly. There, it’s virtually certain that the issue of Catholic politicians who promote abortion rights and also insist on receiving Communion will once again dominate the secular media’s coverage of their discussions. Staff writer Lauretta Brown previewed the meeting.

Yet it’s not the bishops who are forcing debate of this issue at the assembly. The problem has been generated by these wayward politicians’ obstinate refusal to reform their consciences and to repent of their support for the evil of abortion — a scourge that has been responsible for the deaths of more than 60 million innocent unborn babies in the half-century since abortion was legalized in the United States. 

Moreover, as has been documented many times over in these pages during the course of this year, it’s impossible to avoid the matter in light of the actions of the two most prominent Catholic politicians in the nation, President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

Since Biden became president in January, aided and abetted by Pelosi’s actions in Congress, he has sought to push forward the Democratic Party’s current pro-abortion agenda, which is far and away the most extreme expansion of the so-called right to abortion in our nation’s history. 

Neither Biden nor Pelosi has had the slightest compunction about continuing to advertise themselves as being devout, Mass-attending Catholics, despite their profound political breach with the Church’s teaching about what the U.S. bishops call “the preeminent moral issue of our time.” In October, both politicians made a point of traveling to Rome to meet with Pope Francis to parade their Catholic credentials, highlighting areas where their political perspectives do align with the Church’s, while ducking away from the efforts of faithful Catholic media outlets to question them about why they are ignoring the Holy Father’s repeated characterizations of abortion as a form of murder.

Clearly, by their own actions, Biden and Pelosi — along with other U.S. Catholic politicians who similarly push for the advancement of legal abortion and yet present themselves for Communion — are forcing our bishops to address their lack of Eucharistic coherence. That’s why the bishops’ conference has reinitiated the discussion.

Secular news media continue to circulate the canard that it’s the bishops who are “obsessing” over the issue, when it’s obvious for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that it’s the fault of these Catholics in public life who have so egregiously placed themselves outside of communion with what their Church proclaims about the sanctity of life, which includes the unborn. 

The truth is, the bishops plan only to include a relatively small component addressing the worthiness to receive Holy Communion in a new document on the Eucharist that will be debated and then voted on in Baltimore. The document is called “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” and it has been crafted by the USCCB’s doctrine committee in conjunction with the evangelization committee’s proposal to launch a three-year National Eucharistic Revival. 

During the assembly, the bishops will also vote on the plans for the revival. It’s an initiative that is urgently needed, in light of recent polls that show a majority of U.S. Catholics have major misunderstandings about this central sacrament of our faith. 

As always, there are a number of other significant USCCB proposals that the bishops will discuss, including an update of their “Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines”; a discussion of the implementation of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities’ “Walking With Moms in Need” initiative, which aims to mobilize parishes and dioceses in support of expectant mothers who are facing difficulties in their pregnancies; and a new pastoral framework for marriage and family ministry that’s drawn from the Pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia(The Joy of Love). Given the scope of these discussions, it should be clear the bishops are responding constructively to a broad range of pastoral needs, not fixating narrowly on the issue of Catholic politicians and reception of Communion.

Another falsehood that continues to be propagated by secular media outlets that align with the abortion lobby is the claim that the bishops’ conference intends to reignite the so-called “wafer wars” by advising local bishops that they are obliged to deny Communion to obstinately pro-abortion public officials. In fact, there is virtually no chance this will happen; the discussion in June and a draft of the Eucharistic document have clearly communicated such actions will remain at the discretion of individual diocesan bishops.

In fact, the draft indicates the U.S. bishops will be less specific in their document than was the Latin American bishops’ 2007 Aparecida document, which was drafted under the leadership of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. It stated forcefully, “We must adhere to ‘Eucharistic coherence,’ that is, be conscious that they [i.e., legislators, heads of government and health professionals] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia and other grave crimes against life and the family are encouraged.” 

The point is that these politicians are the ones who need to discipline themselves to stay away from the Communion line, since they can have no legitimate excuse any longer for insisting that their “pro-choice” position is acceptably Catholic.

Maybe it’s too much to hope that such Catholic politicians will ever be swayed by a medicinal correction regarding their support for legal abortion. But don’t criticize the bishops if the issue of reception of Communion does overshadow the other things on the agenda at the meeting in Baltimore. The fault lies with the news media that continually misrepresent the matter — and, even more, with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and the other prominent Catholic politicians who continue to scandalize the faithful by their Eucharistically incoherent support for legal abortion.

SOURCE Editors of National Catholic Register: © 2021 EWTN News, Inc. Reprinted with permission from the National Catholic Register – www.ncregister.com.

PHOTO CREDIT: Senate Democrats

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