US Catholic Bishops To Decide If President Biden Should Be ‘Punished’ For Supporting Abortion And Same-Sex Unions
Roman Catholic Bishops in the US will meet this week to decide if President Joe Biden and other practising Catholics who support same-sex marriages and abortion should be ‘punished’ by the Church by denying them communion.
According to by Reuters, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet Wednesday to Friday to decide if Catholics, including politicians like Biden, who support abortion and LQBTQ rights that are antithetical to Church teachings and tenets should be given communion.
Communion is a sacrament central to Roman Catholic faith. Communion is administered by a priest to Catholics and the act--receiving a piece of bread that symbolizes the body of Jesus and a sip of wine that represents His blood--is conducted at every mass.
The Bishops will take a call on a proposal to ask the ‘Committee on Doctrine’ to draft a teaching document on the topic of Communion.
An affirmative decision would translate into a call to all Catholic Bishops in the US to deny communion to all those who advocate LGBTQ rights, including that of same-sex marriage, and abortion rights.
Biden is the second Catholic to serve as US President-- the first was John F Kennedy (1961-1963).
In 2004, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops allowed individual Bishops the liberty to administer or withhold communion to politicians who support abortion rights.
According to Catechism of the Catholic Church, a woman’s willful termination of her pregnancy is “gravely contrary to the moral law”. It also lays down that ‘marital love’ should be shared between men and women, not people of the same sex.
Biden, who has been a staunch advocate of LGBTQ and abortion rights over the past one decade, rolled back federal restrictions on abortion pills to make them more accessible after assuming office in January this year.
Biden has also proposed junking a long-standing ban on federal funding for abortion in his 2022 budget.
The US President’s views have alarmed the Catholic Church and divided Catholics. A Pew Research poll conducted in March revealed that 67% of Catholics in the US believe Biden’s views should not disqualify him from communion.
The new bishop of Biden’s home diocese in Delaware told reporters in April that he was open to a conversation with the President, but did not weigh in on whether Biden should receive Communion.
But the Vatican, says Catholic News Service, has urged caution. Cardinal Luis Ladaria, a Vatican official, wrote to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in May urging it to exercise caution on the debate over politicians’ views and Communion, saying it could become a “source of discord”.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, a group that supports LGBTQ Catholics, wrote in an essay published by Religious News Service last week that the bishops were behaving “in a brazenly partisan manner” by voting on the issue and possibly denying Communion to Biden and others.
“Withholding Communion from any Catholic to punish them for their identity, actions or beliefs is coercion,” she wrote. “It violates the duty of care that is the central ministry of the ordained.”
But there are many who advocate strong action against those who do not adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Among them is Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of San Francisco who argued in a letter he wrote last month that “Catholics who do not espouse publicly the faith and moral teachings of the Catholic church”, including politicians like Biden, should not receive Communion.
Many Catholics feel that raking up these issues can prove to be divisive and lead to a further decline in the number of believers.
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy published an essay days after Cordileone's letter warning that withholding communion from Biden would sow further partisan division among Catholics. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare,” he lamented.
U.S. Catholic Church membership has dropped nearly 20 per cent in the past two decades, according to a Gallup poll published in March, as the church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals involving predatory priests and increasing division on social issues.
Exit polls from the 2020 presidential election showed the Catholic vote nearly split between Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump.
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