US bishops OK steps towards a possible reprimand for Biden, other Catholic politicians who have the right to abortion
Catholic bishops in the US overwhelmingly voted in favor of drafting a “doctrinal document” that many hope will blame Catholic politicians, including President Joe Biden, for receiving communion despite their support for the right to abortion.
The result of the vote – 168 in favor and 55 against – was announced on Friday towards the end of a three-day session of the American Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which was held virtually.
The bishops had cast their votes privately on Thursday after nearly three hours of passionate debate.
Following a routine request for the agenda to be adopted, St. Louis asked Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski, former Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Mass. That enough time be allowed for any bishop who wishes to discuss the drafting of the document to do so this after National Catholic Reporter.
In response, the Archbishop of Kansas, Joseph Naumann, one of the architects of the “No Communion for Joe Biden” initiative, questioned Rozanski’s motives, suggesting that it was a “delaying tactic.” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who is an advisor to the conservative Napa Institute, called Rozanski’s request for adequate discussion time a “filibuster.”
Proponents of the measure said Biden was firmly rebuked for his recent measures to protect and expand access to abortion, while opponents warned that such an action would portray the bishops as a partisan force at a time of bitter political divisions across the country.
As a result of the vote, the USCCB Teaching Committee will draft a statement on the importance of fellowship in the life of the Church for consideration at a future meeting, likely a face-to-face meeting in November.
A section of the document is intended to provide a specific admonition to Catholic politicians and other public figures who disregard Church teachings on abortion and other core doctrinal issues.
Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, said during the debate on Thursday that he was speaking to many people confused by a Catholic president advocating “the most radical abortion agenda in history” and that action by the bishops’ conference is needed.
“They’re looking for guidance,” said Hying.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego countered that the USCCB would suffer “devastating consequences” if a document were directed against Catholic politicians.
“It would be impossible to prevent the Eucharist from being armed,” said McElroy.
Biden, who attends mass regularly, says he is personally against abortion but doesn’t think he should impose this position on Americans who think differently. During his presidency, he took several executive actions hailed by advocates of abortion law.
USCCB Doctoral Committee chairman Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, said no decisions had been made on the final content of the proposed document. He said that bishops who are not on the committee will have the opportunity to contribute and the final draft will be subject to change before being put to the vote.
Rhoades also said the document would not mention Biden or anyone else by name and would offer guidelines rather than prescribing binding national policy.
That would leave the decision of the Lord’s Supper for certain churchgoers to the individual bishops and archbishops. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, made it clear that Biden is welcome to receive communion in the churches of the archdiocese.
(This article uses material from the Associated Press and National Catholic Reporter.)