Politics: Bishops debate denying Communion to Biden, other pro-abortion rights politicians

More turn to abortion pills by mail, with legality uncertain

  More turn to abortion pills by mail, with legality uncertain TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Before her daughter’s birth, she spent weeks in bed. Another difficult pregnancy would be worse as she tried to care for her toddler. Faced with that possibility, the 28-year-old Texas woman did what a growing number of people have considered: She had a friend in another state mail her the pills she needed to end her pregnancy. She took the pills, went to bed early and describes the experience as “calm” and “peaceful.” “IfFaced with that possibility, the 28-year-old Texas woman did what a growing number of people have considered: She had a friend in another state mail her the pills she needed to end her pregnancy. She took the pills, went to bed early and describes the experience as “calm” and “peaceful.

The question of whether President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion rights should receive Holy Communion is at the center of a controversial draft document the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is expected to vote on Wednesday.

The vote is the culmination of year-long debate between America’s largely conservative bishops and the Vatican about whether punitive measures should be taken against public officials who contradict the church’s teaching on abortion.

Biden, only the nation’s second Catholic president, who has said his "personal" views were a "private matter," has openly professed his faith throughout his political career -- diligently attending Sunday Mass, infusing speeches with scripture and wearing his late son Beau Biden’s rosary beads.

More turn to abortion pills by mail, with legality uncertain

  More turn to abortion pills by mail, with legality uncertain TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Before her daughter’s birth, she spent weeks in bed. Another difficult pregnancy would be worse as she tried to care for her toddler. Faced with that possibility, the 28-year-old Texas woman did what a growing number of people have considered: She had a friend in another state mail her the pills she needed to end her pregnancy. She took the pills, went to bed early and describes the experience as “calm” and “peaceful.” “IfFaced with that possibility, the 28-year-old Texas woman did what a growing number of people have considered: She had a friend in another state mail her the pills she needed to end her pregnancy. She took the pills, went to bed early and describes the experience as “calm” and “peaceful.

  Bishops debate denying Communion to Biden, other pro-abortion rights politicians © Vatican Media/via Reuters

After his meeting last month with Pope Francis before the G-20 summit, and amid criticism from conservative bishops, Biden said that the pope told him that he should continue receiving Communion and said the pope called him a "good Catholic."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) hosts its annual General Assembly meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2021. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) hosts its annual General Assembly meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2021. (MORE: Biden says Pope Francis told him he's a 'good Catholic' amid criticism over his abortion views)

Some bishops, however, see things differently, citing Biden’s vocal public support of abortion rights as a key reason why clarification on who can receive Communion is necessary.

Prominent Catholic politicians, including Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have typically been careful about where they attend Mass so as to avoid controversy.

Opinion: Why overturning Roe v. Wade would be a disaster for conservatives

  Opinion: Why overturning Roe v. Wade would be a disaster for conservatives Here's the best-kept secret about the so-called abortion "debate" in the United States: It's actually not that much of a debate at all. A majority of Americans believe that the decision to end or continue a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, not the state. Most Americans oppose laws that make it more difficult for reproductive health clinics to operate. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next month challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, but fewer than a third of Americans want Roe to be overturned.

While Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington has said that he doesn’t plan to deny Biden Communion, he has publicly questioned whether the president is living up to Catholic Church teachings on controversial issues, including abortion.

"The Catholic Church teaches, and has taught, that life -- human life -- begins at conception,” Gregory told journalists at the National Press Club in September. "So, the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching."

While the document is expected to make no mention Biden or other pro-abortion rights Catholic politicians by name, its intent is to issue a stern rebuke of individuals, especially of public officials, who present themselves for Communion after breaking with church teaching on fundamental issues.

In a leaked draft of the document before the conference, the bishops write "there are some sins, however that do rupture the communion we share with God and the Church."

Texas abortion ban stays in force as justices mull outcome

  Texas abortion ban stays in force as justices mull outcome WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two weeks have passed since the Supreme Court's extraordinarily rushed arguments over Texas' unique abortion law without any word from the justices. They raised expectations of quick action by putting the case on a rarely used fast track. And yet, to date, the court's silence means that women cannot get an abortion in Texas, the second-largest state, after about six weeks of pregnancy. That's before some women knowThey raised expectations of quick action by putting the case on a rarely used fast track. And yet, to date, the court's silence means that women cannot get an abortion in Texas, the second-largest state, after about six weeks of pregnancy.

"As the Church has consistently taught, a person who receives Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin not only does not receive the grace of the sacrament, he or she commits the sin of sacrilege by failing to show the reverence due to the Body and Blood of Christ," the document said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) hosts its annual General Assembly meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2021. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) hosts its annual General Assembly meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2021.

An official at the bishop’s conference insisted that they are staying true to their mission of defending church teachings, pointing to the conference’s outspoken disagreement with the Trump administration’s policies regarding undocumented migrants.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, many American Catholics are divided about whether Biden should be denied Communion over his support of abortion rights.

A majority of U.S. Catholic adults say Biden should be allowed to receive Communion during Mass, while nearly 30% say Biden should not be allowed to receive Communion.

The divide underscores a growing tension amongst American Catholics about who they see as the true authority on matters of faith and what they should believe.

"The U.S. bishops, and Pope Francis see things in very different ways," said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University. "American Catholics for the first time in many decades have to decide if they want to follow Pope Francis or U.S. bishops, which is new, because U.S. bishops are traditionally very Roman, loyal to the pope."

Excluding Catholics From Communion Was Once the Norm .
U.S. bishops’ plan to discipline President Biden failed, but for centuries questions of “worthiness” kept laypeople from taking Communion.But while this effort was unsuccessful, there’s nothing that unusual about the general notion of the Church policing the altar. The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church (like its Eastern Orthodox counterpart churches) has always treated the Holy Eucharist (the more formal name for the sacrament of Communion) as a blessing that can be denied to the “unworthy.

See also