Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to advance a document that will discuss “Eucharistic coherence,” which Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila called an “opportunity for me and all bishops to recommit ourselves to an unapologetic preaching of Jesus Christ.” In the aftermath, corporate media once again proved themselves to be arbiters of hypocrisy, with headline after headline criticizing the church for allegedly politicizing the Eucharist.
Among others, NPR reported “Bishops Vote to Rethink Communion Rules,” a New Republic headline said “Conservative Bishops’ Attack on Biden Is an Attack on the Majority of U.S. Catholics,” and the Associated Press reported that the “US Catholic bishops [OK’ed] steps toward possible rebuke of Biden,” and that bishops met to “press Biden to stop taking Communion.” Leftist media is politicizing the bishops’ meeting — not the other way around. And their almost every interpretation of the meeting is misguided and blatantly false.
Bishops met to “write a document that will contribute to a real Eucharistic revival in the Church in our nation by highlighting the truth about the amazing gift Jesus gave us on the night before he died,” according to the head of the Doctrine Committee of USCCB, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, whose committee will draft the document come November — not to specifically deny politicians Holy Communion.
The USCCB only addressed the subject after growing uncertainty on Eucharistic importance. Recently, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, announced a three-year National Eucharistic Revival initiative that was “prompted in part by a 2019 Pew Research study that found 69% of Catholics don’t believe the Church’s teaching that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist,” Our Sunday Visitor reported on Monday. The initiative is part of the USCCB’s Strategic Plan “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope,” which has been in the works for more than a year.
Corporate media only started to pay attention to the USCCB when they realized they could categorize the meeting as an attack on America’s second “Catholic” president Joe Biden. Many Catholics hope the document will spur a church-wide decision to deny Communion to politicians who support anti-life agendas, but the USCCB has been clear that the document will be addressed to all Catholics. While political figures happen to be included in the debate, Eucharistic coherence is a problem bigger than Biden with a solution much more eternal than politics.
For all of corporate media’s familiarity with Catholicism (they’re all faithful church-goers, no doubt), they’ve butchered Catholic teaching to fit an anti-religion narrative they’ve been pushing for decades. It’s time to hold them accountable.
Here are top lies the media have told about the USCCB’s recent meeting.
1. The Vatican warned against such a document.
Rhoades said in an interview with Our Sunday Visitor that he was “disappointed in [the] erroneous interpretation” of Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Cardinal Luis Ladaria’s letter to President of the USCCB Archbishop Jose Gomez, which has been cited by many media outlets as proof that the Vatican does not support the forthcoming document.
The letter actually urged bishops to promote unity and dialogue, first among bishops, then among Catholic politicians “as a means of understanding the nature of their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching,” Cardinal Ladaria wrote. Ladaria said that if these two stages of dialogue were met, bishops “would then face the difficult task of discerning the best way forward for the church in the United States to witness to the grave moral responsibility of Catholic public officials to protect human life at all stages,” adding that “such a statement would need to express a true consensus of the bishops on the matter,” and that “any statement of the conference regarding Catholic political leaders would best be framed within the broad context of worthiness for the reception of Holy Communion on the part of all the faithful, rather than only one category of Catholics.”
Word choice is important here: Ladaria was not warning, but he was cautioning bishops to remain mindful of the conference’s duty to stay unified and grounded in one body.
Although this fact has been virtually unreported by corporate media, Ladaria specifically advised the conference to discuss the document in context of the CDF’s authoritative Doctrinal note of 2002: “On some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life,” which says that “lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them… a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” The document makes it absolutely clear that “political forces with positions contrary to the moral and social teaching of the Church… are not compatible with membership in organizations or associations which define themselves as Catholic.”
2. The document will deny Biden Holy Communion.
The USCCB does not have absolute governing authority over who, from which diocese, can receive Holy Communion. The document is a teaching document — which means it’s a loud suggestion for what bishops ought to do, but it will not and cannot mandate that bishops deny Communion to public officials.
Addressing this question, Ladaria wrote that “any provisions of the Conference in this area would respect the rights of individual Ordinaries in their dioceses and the prerogatives of the Holy See.” “We are preparing a doctrinal reflection and not drawing up national norms, since such would be beyond the competency of our committee,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades also quoted Pope Benedict, saying, “‘Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationship with others: it demands a public witness to our faith.’”
What can the USCCB do? When he was executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices for the USCCB, Rev. Thomas G. Weinandy said the bishops “have the obligation to judge the morality of actions, for example, that the direct killing of an unborn child is always a moral evil. This obligation to judge not only applies in stating the principle, but it also applies to concrete situations where such immoral actions are either directly promoted or legally authorized. Thus, bishops have the obligation to judge the moral content of laws that permit, foster, or require citizens to pay for gravely immoral actions (for example, by paying for insurance policies that cover such actions).”
3. The document will target pro-abortion politicians exclusively.
The document will be addressed to all Catholics. Rhoades said political consequences were not the purpose of the committee’s proposed document and that he would not weigh in on whether Biden should receive Communion.
“We will be looking at that whole issue of Eucharistic consistency and the way the church’s law is, that is for his own bishop,” said Rhoades.
Yes, the document will apply to politicians and political life — but only because every belief and doctrine of the Catholic Church applies to every part of life.
4. The church can’t deny members Holy Communion.
It can and it has. Much to the left’s chagrin, the Catholic Church is not a woke organization that prioritizes inclusivity over truth. Catholics are encouraged to confess their sins and receive Holy Communion reverently — but if there’s demonstrated evidence that a member has not reconciled his sins, or has publicly disobeyed church doctrine, he can be denied Communion — in such cases, it’s for his own good.
Canon 916: “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”
5. It is better for someone’s soul to receive Communion than not.
In some cases, yes. But when the soul is in a state of grave sin, it does much more harm to irreverently receive the Eucharist than to take it. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).
The Lord’s Table is not for everyone. While the Catholic Church teaches that everyone deserves to find a spot at the table, non-Catholics and the unrepentant must be discouraged from partaking.
After the USCCB meeting, my priest had wise guidance for parishioners who saw the nonsense published by leftist media: “We judge the world by God’s standards, not God’s by the world.” For Catholics, only one word matters — and it’s not one that you’ll see published in corporate news outlets.