The issue of granting Communion to pro-abortion politicians in the United States has brought much controversy, not only among the Catholic faithful but also among cardinals and bishops, causing a dividing line.
Church authorities who support the ban on giving politicians Holy Communion argue that it is required by Church teaching and is necessary to protect the Sacrament. So giving it to politicians, who claim to be Catholic but oppose the Catholic Church on serious moral issues such as abortion, goes against its doctrine.
Some of the bishops nevertheless say that such a ban would amount to an “arming” or “politicisation” of the Eucharist. But such statements by a minority are expected to be addressed next month at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
At that annual meeting, where the bishops will discuss a proposed document on “eucharistic coherence” for the worthy reception of Holy Communion by Catholics, the USCCB will also decide whether to send a tougher-than-ever message to President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians that they should not receive Communion if they persist in publicly defending abortion rights, the AP reported.
Several cardinals and bishops have commented publicly on the issue and made clear where they stand on the line, and LifeSite compiled a long list of their statements, some of which are listed below:
Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a First Things article, said, “…the coherence of Catholic belief and the behavior it requires, is rooted both in Scripture and constant Church practice. It applies to all Catholics, not merely public officials, and it applies all the time and everywhere. There is nothing intentionally “political” about it. Claiming that it weaponizes the Eucharist for political ends is both misleading and, when advanced by anyone in Church leadership, inexcusable.”
Bishop James Wall, Gallup, New Mexico meanwhile stated: “Our concern is not political but pastoral; it is for the salvation of souls. This issue has political ramifications, but that is not an excuse to shy away at this crucial moment. […] Back in 1998 our conference named abortion a ‘preeminent threat’ and in 2019 we reaffirmed that the ‘threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself.’ Pro-abortion political leaders have not heeded these calls, and now we seek to apply the last remaining and most severe medicinal option we have: eucharistic sanctions.”
Meanwhile Bishop David Ricken, Green Bay, Wisconsin said in a Compass News article that “When a Catholic assumes a public office, he or she cannot use the excuse that ‘personally I am opposed to abortion, publicly my party allows it.’ He added that “When Catholics in public positions of authority and trust provide active or passive approval, it contradicts the eternal truth that every life is sacred from the moment of conception and gives scandal to the people. Their willingness to deny this truth not only harms the unborn and the women and other family members impacted by an abortion, it puts their own souls in eternal jeopardy.”
Bishop Donald Hying, Madison, Wisconsin likewise appealed to a harsh reality in America, stating: “Almost fifty years after Roe v. Wade, 66 million lives have been snuffed out at the very beginning of their existence and countless individuals have been spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically damaged by this profound violence; we still have legal abortion in the United States, with many of our national leaders embracing a pro-abortion position, including self-professed Catholics.”
Already during the presidential campaign, in 2019, a South Carolina priest denied Biden communion, for supporting abortion. But now the situation in recent months has become increasingly complex, he is no longer just another politician and the world is getting the message that in the US there is a Catholic president who accepts and promotes abortions on a large scale.
And while many celebrated Biden as the first Catholic president since John F. Kennedy, priests like Father Pokorsky declared Biden to be “the most anti-Catholic president in history”.