US Catholic bishops advance communion document, setting up potential rebuke of Biden

US Catholic bishops advance communion document, setting up potential rebuke of Biden

US Catholic bishops advance communion document, setting up potential rebuke of Biden

A contentious debate in the Catholic Church about politicians like President Joe Biden who support abortion has led to a vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reconsider the rules about who can receive Communion.

The rite is among the most important in Christianity, a sacrament symbolizing the Passover meal Jesus enjoyed with his disciples shortly before being crucified, and, more broadly, the new covenant Christians believe they forged with God by choosing to follow Jesus instead of remaining Jews.

Critics of the proposal expressed concern about its development and what they characterized as a narrow focus on abortion, arguing it will add to partisan rift.

"Almost daily I speak with people, Catholics.who are confused by the fact that we have a president who professes devout Catholicism and yet advances the most radical pro-abortion agenda in our history", said Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, who supported drafting the document.

The vote overwhelmingly passed, with 168 in favor and 55 opposed.

The US clergy is deeply divided on the issue.

Other bishops, like Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, warned that "the USCCB would suffer "destructive consequences" from a document targeting Catholic politicians".

However, the Most Rev Liam Cary, the bishop of Baker, Oregon, said the Church was in an "unprecedented situation", with "a Catholic president who is opposed to the teaching" of the Church.

The conference's Committee on Doctrine is now expected to draft the document over the next six months, and the bishops will review an amendable draft at an upcoming meeting.

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

In 2019, a South Carolina Catholic priest denied Biden-described in the media as a regular Catholic Mass attendee-communion over his stance on abortion.

The final decision on receiving Communion would be left up to individual bishops and archbishops.

"It's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen", Biden said, and thanked reporters as he left the podium.

A section within the document will specifically reprimand catholic politicians and public figures that disobey church teachings on abortion and other "core doctrine issues".

Catholics for Choice, an abortion rights group, said it was profoundly saddened by the move.

"The debate and vote demonstrated serious divisions among the bishops on the current proposal and process", John Carr, co-director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, and a former USCCB staffer, said in an email.

But she said the minority of bishops who spoke out against it provided a glimmer of hope. "This is a Catholic president doing the most aggressive things we've ever seen on life at its most innocent". He could be the first president to be denied Communion by his Church - a remarkable development that emphasises the divisive nature of abortion in United States politics and religious life.

Biden attends Mass every Sunday, however his support for abortion has drawn condemnation from Catholics.

Sixty Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives released a statement on Friday urging the church not to deny elected officials Communion over one issue.

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