When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meets in June, they will debate over one of the most contentious and high profile issues in the church: whether or not Catholic politicians who advocate policies at odds with Church Doctrine, specifically support for abortion, are able to receive Holy Communion and remain in good standing with the Church.
Despite being the second Catholic President, Joe Biden has caused much controversy within the church. Despite being a self described “devout Catholic” who attends Mass on a regular basis, his support for abortion, LGBT rights and other topics which put him at odds with Rome has sparked a debate over whether or not such a politician is qualified to receive Communion.
Communion is the holiest of the Seven Sacraments within the Roman Catholic Church, the largest religious denomination in the United States. Signifying one’s union with Christ and the Church, a Catholic must go to Confession for their sins with a priest and repent before being eligible to receive the Sacrament.
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The issue is expected to be somewhat contentious, as a move to prohibit the President from receiving Communion may create a low level culture war among a religion who’s constituents are nearly evenly divided by party affiliation. However, such concerns have not prevented American leaders of the faith from speaking up.
“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” explains Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “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?”
The President of the USCCB, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, warned that Biden will “advance moral evils,” including contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage, in a statement issued on Biden’s inauguration day.
Since the USCCB has no official authority over Bishops, individual Bishops will still be allowed to let Biden receive the Sacrament. Nonetheless, a condemnation of Biden will still send a strong message.
The USCCB will make this decision when they meet in June, where the decision is expected to be approved.