Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of talk about the United States Bishops and their intentions concerning Communion and pro-choice Catholic politicians, most prominently President Biden and Speaker of the House Pelosi. Much of the information is wrong and is intended by a media that feeds on sensationalism and controversy to create a fire storm that they can exploit for their own purposes. There are others on the right and the left, Republicans and Democrats, who also benefit from creating an uproar.
Here is the statement from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which addresses four very important questions:
- Why are the bishops doing this now?
- Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Communion? NO!
- Are the bishops going to have a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians? NO!
- Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document? NO!
There are certainly Catholics, including some bishops, who are outraged and who feel that pro-choice Catholic politicians should be banned from receiving Communion. But that is not what this document does. A national policy is not even a possibility within the Catholic Church, as every bishop has the authority to make decisions about such matters in his diocese. There may very well be some bishops that will do so. But that is not what this document does.
The bishops are very concerned about widespread misunderstanding of the truth about the Eucharist and the fact that so many Catholics do not believe what the Church has taught about the Eucharist for 2,000 years. Not understanding the truth about the Eucharist leads to confusion about what we need to do to properly prepare for Communion. If we are truly receiving Christ in the Eucharist, then we must prepare carefully and with good intention.
Because of this crisis, the United States bishops are launching a multi-year program to bring about a renewal in the Catholic people of an understanding of and a love for the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. This document, which will be worked on at the bishop’s meeting in November, is the foundation document for that effort. Please read the statement from the bishops, for it gives you the exact information about the document that you need.