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Brief #164 – Civil Rights Policy

US Catholic Bishops Make Communion a Political Issue

By S. Bhimji

June 19, 2021

 

Policy Summary 

In 1973 the landmark Roe Vs Wade decision by the US Supreme Court legally protected the rights of pregnant women who choose to have an abortion without excessive government intrusion. This landmark ruling struck down many state and federal abortion laws but at the same time has created an ongoing national debate as to who should decide the legality of abortion and to what extent is abortion legal.

And this topic has also divided the democrats and republicans. Besides the politicians, democratic Americans are also more likely to state that abortion should be legal. But now the Catholic Bishops have voiced their sentiments over the issue and are about to clash with President Biden and many of his fellow democrats.

Just this past week, the Catholic Bishops sent a letter to their US Ministries that democrats who support abortion will be barred from the Holy Communion. The Democrats, fearing that they will not be able to enter ‘heaven’ are now calling on the Catholic bishops to stop the “Weaponization of the Holy Communion.” The Democrats say the church should not be targeting democrats who support abortion and they are acting like hypocrites.

The democrats have countered by drafting a ‘long letter’ or ‘statement of principles’ to admonish Bishops who are considering withdrawing communion services from politicians who support legalized abortion. The democrats state, “We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this holiest of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel, over one issue.”

Analysis 

The new Communion document still needs approval from at least 2/3rd of bishops and has to adopt a language so that it does not scrutinize one individual but a group. The Bishops have become upset over the recent comments by President Biden and fellow Democrats who support abortion policies.

The Democrats state that they are being unfairly targeted over one issue whereas the republicans who support the death penalty which is also against the church’s pro-life teachings have had a free pass.

The catholic Democrats insist that the sacrament of the holy communion is sanctified and vital to the practice of catholicism and exploiting of the Eucharist to denounce democrats who support safe and legal abortion is outlandish.

What is even more alarming is that the Catholic church has never threatened the holy communion of any other politicians who have supported the separation of migrant children from their parents, denying illegal immigrants access to healthcare in the USA, or limiting food to the asylum seekers.

The democrats have acknowledged that the most fundamental catholic teachings have helped many disadvantaged people including advocating for universal healthcare and fighting poverty amongst children. But they state that there has to be a separation of the state and church when it comes to certain policies.

Overall, there is no perfect political party and the Catholic church has to condone the sinners as well as the pure. In the words of Pope Francis who remarked, “the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.  The blanket refutation of the Holy Eucharist to certain democrats can gravely harm the Holy Spirit and deny the individual from living the life of a true Christian.”

However, even if the Bishops do decide to deny the Eucharist, it will not be a universal policy. The ultimate decision to deny democrats Holy Communion will rest with the individual bishop.

President Biden is only the 2nd Catholic elected POTUS, after JFK. While nothing is for sure, it is possible that he could become the first US President to be denied Holy Communion.

Engagement Resources 

After Debate On Biden’s Abortion Views, Bishops Vote to Rethink Communion Rules

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/18/1007794929/catholic-bishops-abortion-biden-communion

Abortion rights: US Catholic bishops face clash with Bidenhttps://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57531070

Nearly 60 House Democrats call on Catholic bishops to stop targeting pro-abortion pols in Communion dispute

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/60-house-catholic-democrats-bishops-communion

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