"A draft document about the Eucharist being prepared by a group of U.S. bishops ahead of the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops makes only oblique references to Catholic politicians who disagree with church teaching, perhaps tamping down expectations among some Catholics who had been seeking strong language that could lay the foundation for denying Communion to Catholic political leaders who deviate from church teaching, including President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The draft, obtained by America, was first published by the Catholic newsletter The Pillar on Tuesday...
Running nearly 30 pages, much of the draft document is a theological journey covering Catholic belief about the Eucharist, which the church teaches to be the body and blood of Christ. The document quotes several recent popes and cites the importance of the Eucharist to a number of saints. It recognizes the challenges facing Catholics during the pandemic, when many churches moved worship to online spaces, and it urges Catholics who have drifted away from the church to consider returning.
On the political question, the document includes a few paragraphs about how individual Catholics—including public figures—should assess their worthiness to receive Communion but stops well short of offering a checklist of who is or is not eligible for the sacrament.
'Lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody Church teaching in their service of the common good,' the document reads.
In another section, the document appears to target a once-common formulation among Catholic politicians who support abortion rights—personal opposition to abortion but a reluctance to impose religious views on society—by articulating that privately held religious beliefs must inform public actions.
'We all need to be consistent in bringing the love of Christ not only to our personal lives, but also to every dimension of our public lives,' the document states.
Bishops will gather in Baltimore Nov. 15 to Nov. 18 for their fall meeting, during which they are expected to debate and eventually vote on the draft document...
Last week, President Biden met with Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican. Speaking to reporters following their nearly 90-minute meeting, Mr. Biden said that the pope urged him to continue receiving Communion. Sticking to protocol, the Vatican declined to comment on specifics from the meeting, instead pointing to a statement about the topics the two leaders covered.
When asked by a reporter if he planned to discuss the Communion question with U.S. bishops, Mr. Biden said, 'That’s a private conversation.'
The next day, Mr. Biden attended Mass at a church in Rome and received Communion.
Pope Francis told a reporter in September that he had never denied Communion to anyone, though stopped short of commenting directly on U.S. politicians. In October, Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said in an interview that the Eucharist should not be made into a 'weapon,' and when asked if he thought Mr. Biden should be denied Communion, stated, 'No.'"
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.