Will the bishops refuse Biden’s communion?
Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 168-55, over 3-1, to provide new directions for receiving Holy Communion. Behind the decision? The bishops’ alarm is that the public religious practice of President Joe Biden sends a heretical message to the faithful and to the nation.
At Sunday Mass, Biden regularly receives Communion. Yet he not only supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to have an abortion, but his new administration also provides sufficient funding for abortions. Restrictions that existed during Trump’s day, such as the Hyde Amendments that ban taxpayer funding for abortions, are about to be lifted under Biden’s presidency. If the “teaching document” the bishops are supposed to produce conforms to traditional doctrine, a series of collisions on moral issues is about to rock the American Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.
For that majority of American bishops, who believe pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied Communion, will likely collide not only with Biden and their fellow bishops, but with the Vatican. Pope Francis had wanted to avoid this now apparently inevitable confrontation on the issue. Even though the document does not mention him by name, Biden will be pressed by the media to explain how he can support government funding for the murder of unborn children and continue to receive Holy Communion. Pope Francis will be in a hurry to know whether the American bishops are wrong to insist that American Catholic leaders who challenge Catholic doctrine on one of the great moral questions of the time are not to be treated as devout Catholics.
If the bishops produce a teaching document that conforms to traditional Catholic doctrine, what will he say? Abortion is the murder of an unborn child, a serious moral crime and a sin. No Catholic can be a part of it. Political leaders who support abortion rights and vote to fund abortions are contributing to systemic moral evil and scandalizing worshipers. And they should neither receive nor receive Holy Communion. To do so amounts to giving moral sanction to their misconduct.
The major argument raised against denying communion to pro-abortion Catholics is the deeper division in the church that this might create. “The choice that awaits us right now,” Cardinal Wilton Gregory told the meeting of bishops in Washington, DC, “is either to continue on the path of strengthening the unity among us or to be content with to create a document which will not bring unity but may very much damage it even more. “But is episcopal collegiality a higher cause than the defense of the right to life of millions of unborn children who are about to be put to death?
Is perceived unity among bishops more important than public testimony to the truth that America’s unborn children have been destroyed for 50 years at an annual rate that exceeds the worst COVID-19 pandemic? Is clarity of doctrinal truth less important than fellowship?
No one can know what is in the heart and soul of Biden, who visibly manifests a devotion to his Catholic faith unmatched by any national politician of his generation. Still, there’s no denying the message conveyed by Biden’s appearance receiving Communion. This is because being pro-abortion and funding abortions doesn’t necessarily conflict with being a good Catholic.
Pro-Life Bishop Kevin Rhoades of South Bend, Indiana, dissentes: “There is a special obligation on those in leadership because of their public visibility.” Rhoades had previously opposed Our Lady’s awarding of her prestigious Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden, citing his support for abortion and same-sex marriage: that obligation. “
When asked on Friday what he thought of the possibility of Catholic bishops voting to deny him Communion, Biden dismissed the idea and walked away: “It’s a private matter, and I don’t think so. not that it’s going to happen. ” Where is it going?
The bishops have planned a decision at their next conference to draft a report that seems certain to be read as a rebuke of Biden. While this will divide the Catholic community, the Pope is unlikely to support the document. Therefore, its effect will be limited to those dioceses whose bishops agree with it and choose to deny Communion to the President of the United States.
Biden will be in a hurry to talk about the abortion issue and the bishops’ decision to deny him Communion. His presence at Mass and his Communion will become subjects of growing controversy. His presence at Sunday mass can be marked by demonstrations. And he will be accused of hypocrisy – for pretending to be the kind of Catholic that the majority of American bishops claim he is not.
Many states that have adopted new restrictions on abortion that appear to conflict with Roe vs. Wade, the abortion issue seems poised to be referred to the Supreme Court and to the forefront of American politics. Not good news for Joe Biden.
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Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To learn more about Patrick Buchanan and read articles from other Creators writers and designers, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.