Holy Communion, a political weapon against President Biden?
Is the sacrament of Holy Communion, the most important ritual in Christianity, to become a political weapon in the Catholic Church? This question has become a major area of concern following the action of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops which last Friday, June 18, voted on a document providing new guidance on communion. The Bishops voted by 168 votes to 55 to approve the document which will be finally put before the full Conference in November.
The concern arises from the fact that the document if finally approved, can lead to US President Joe Biden, only the second catholic president of the USA, (assassinated President John Kennedy was the first), possibly being denied access to communion based on his public support for abortion rights. So controversial has the issue become that the Vatican, the governing organ of the global Catholic Church, has warned about the possible implications. The Pope himself has not pronounced on the matter as yet; but the matter has brought senior bishops in US Catholicism in the open on opposite sides. In fact one Bishop, the Most Reverend Rob McElroy, of San Diego, warned that it can lead to what he called the “weaponisation” of the Eucharist.
Other senior Bishops have also commented publicly. Bishop Liam Carey of Baker, Oregon said that the Church finds itself in an “unprecedented situation” with “a Catholic President opposed to the teaching of the Church”. Another Bishop, Kevin Roades came out openly saying that “we need to accept the Church’s discipline, that those who persist in grave sin are not admitted to Holy Communion”.
However, Cardinal Blase Cupich has described the issue as being “divisive”. He warned the Church against taking the route of exclusion when the “real challenge is welcoming back believers to the regular faith and rebuilding communities”.
President of the abortion rights group, Catholics for the Church, Jamie Manson, said that she is “saddened” by the developments.
“In a church riven by tension and division, bishops chose to be partisan rather than pastoral, cruel, rather than Christlike”, she commented.
The debate rages on towards the November date.