Thomas Gallatin / November 19, 2021

Bishops Punt on Eucharist Ban for Pro-Abortion Catholic Pols

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops passes new Communion guidelines that avoid any mention of abortion.

At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a widely anticipated vote over new guidance recommendations for Catholics receiving Communion ended up as a big disappointment for those expecting the assembly to draw a hard line against politicians promoting abortion. A measure dealing with Eucharist guidance did pass on an overwhelming 222-8 vote, but it glaringly avoided any mention of abortion. When your job is to stand up for truth, including the truth regarding life, that’s a shameful abdication.

This past June, bishops voted 168-55 to create a document that would offer guidance to Catholics receiving Communion. It was to potentially include recommendations barring Communion for politicians who unrepentantly advocate for abortion. And while an apparent majority of U.S. Catholic bishops supported that position, in a clearly ideologically divided Catholic Church — the divide going all the way to the Vatican — the bishops elected to avoid the issue evidently for the sake of unity, and in deference to the pope.

Pope Francis had made his position over the issue clear by saying that the bishops shouldn’t be politicizing the taking of Communion. Furthermore, when the ostensibly Catholic Joe Biden visited the Vatican last month, he claimed that Francis told him he was a good Catholic and that he should continue receiving Communion. Draw your own conclusions.

As for the Conference of Catholic Bishops, even if a measure had passed that included a recommendation for barring Catholics who promote abortion from receiving Communion, it would not have been binding since it was a general guidance document. In other words, individual bishops could have chosen not to follow it. Still, had the recommendation been included, it would have served as a public rebuke against abortion-promoting politicians like Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Demonstrating the need for this public rebuke — but also a good indicator of why it failed to materialize — is a recent Pew Research Center poll that found 55% of self-identified Catholics support legal abortion in most or all cases. In another survey last year, Pew found that 67% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly believe that abortion should be illegal. That’s a huge difference between practicing and nominal Catholics, and it could help explain the church’s divisions over abortion.

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