The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will determine at their next meeting in June whether President Joe Biden and other politicians who support abortion should be urged to stop receiving Communion, according to the Associated Press.
Biden is the second Catholic president ever — the first being John F. Kennedy, who was not vocal about abortion and nominated pro-life Justice Byron White to the Supreme Court. Supporting abortion “is a grave moral evil,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, the chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” Naumann also told the AP. “It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”
A document is set to be prepared for the upcoming U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The group leading the effort, the Committee on Doctrine, will reportedly clarify where the church stands on the Communion issue. The document would need to be approved by the bishops.
The bishops aim to send a clear message to Biden and change his mind on the abortion issue, but their actions would not prohibit the president from receiving Communion. Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware, and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., have both said they will allow the president to receive Communion.
In November, USCCB president, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, said Biden’s support for abortion gives the church a “difficult and complex situation.” After making this statement, Gomez announced the creation of a group to study it. “These policies pose a serious threat to the common good,” Gomez said. “When politicians who profess the Catholic faith support them … it creates confusion among the faithful about what the church actually teaches on these questions.”
San Fransisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the AP, “There’s a growing sense of urgency” in communicating to Biden he ought not to receive Communion. “Abortion is not just one among many important issues. … It’s a direct attack on human life,” Cordileone continued. “[Politicians] need to understand the scandal that is caused when they say they are faithfully Catholic and yet oppose the church on such a basic concept.”
Evangelicals for Biden released a statement in March urging the president to “honor his commitment” to the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal taxpayer money from funding abortions. Other actions from the White House have dismayed Catholics. Biden lifted federal restrictions on human fetal tissue research funding this month and rolled back a policy put in place by the Trump administration prohibiting groups that refer women to abortions from receiving federal grants.
“He doesn’t have the authority to teach what it means to be Catholic — that’s our responsibility as bishops,” Naumann expressed. “Whether intentional or not, he’s trying to usurp our authority.”
In order for Naumann and others to get the outcome they seek, a two-thirds majority will be needed.