LAST month US Catholic bishops voted in favour of drafting a document on ‘Eucharistic Coherence’, which, if approved by the Vatican, will be signed off in November.
The subject sounds dull but cloaks a big problem: how to deal with the second Catholic President of the United States.
Joe Biden has traded on his Catholicism throughout his entire career, especially during his Presidential campaign. He quoted Pope John Paul II when he called on Americans to ‘be not afraid’, and used a Catholic hymn in his first address as President-elect.
Nonetheless, he uses his position and political power to promote legislation and establish rights that are anathema to his professed faith. He is plainly a different kind of Catholic.
Biden’s position as a man of immense power who has used his authority actively to promote abortion sets him against the Church in a highly public and incontrovertible way.
A person’s status as a practising Catholic depends on regular attendance at Mass, adherence to doctrine and participation in the Sacrament of Communion where, according to Faith, the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ.
According to areport by the Catholic League, Joseph Biden has violated fundamental Catholic moral teaching multiple times in the five months or so since his inauguration. Growing numbers of prominent Catholics and bishops believe that as a result he should be refused Communion.
Several have released letters and statements saying that Catholic politicians who support absolute abortion rights, including the President, should be barred from receiving Communion; this despite a ‘hands off’ letter from the Vatican.
Bishop Kevin C Rhoades, chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, is pushing for a statement on ‘Eucharistic Coherence’ to confirm the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist. He has been concerned about polls suggesting that large numbers of practising Catholics either do not understand or do not agree with Church teaching on the Eucharist.
Critics and ‘liberal Catholics’ complain that any such statement could put pressure on priests to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights although it is up to individual bishops to enforce Catholic teaching in their diocese.
Sixty ‘Catholic’ Democratic Senators have warned the bishops that withholding the Eucharist from them would be ‘contradictory’ and wrong. Bishop Rhoades’s response was that Catholic teaching is clear: abortion and euthanasia are ‘unspeakable crimes’. He reminded the legislators of their duties as Catholics to protect the inviolable dignity of all human life and confirmed that he would be pleased to ‘go over’ Catholic doctrine with them.
Interviewed on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=ychws9mtglu, Bishop Rhoades was asked if he was intent on defying the Vatican. He replied that his stance was consistent with the Faith and Catholic catechism. Others, including Joe Biden’s bishops in Delaware and Washington, consider that denying the Eucharist to high-profile politicians is an incendiary and politically partisan act.
Many people of faith in the US have been disappointed with the Catholic Church’s increasing capitulation to liberal social mores including the acceptance, and sometimes blessing, of homosexuality, the capitulation to notions of transgenderism in schools, and abortion.
The Church has, for decades, relinquished its own authority and withdrawn from asserting itself in the public forum. It spends a great deal of time and money on introspection and virtue-signalling on crime and punishment, foreign aid, immigration enforcement, race, Sharia Law, and the death penalty and truly little on engaging with atheism or agnosticism.
Extraordinarily it appears to have walked away from defending the rights of the unborn child, offering no criticism of the use of foetal cells in vaccine production. It has been ineffective in opposing the spread of Critical Race Theory or transgenderism in schools.
The bishops’ recent failures to demonstrate solidarity with people oppressed by lockdown measures –their giving orders to local priests to close churches and denying sanctuary to the needy, was unprecedented: millions were abandoned.
Many Catholic leaders are wary of speaking out, concerned not to make themselves a target for mainstream criticism: some are still tainted by association with child-abusing priests and diminished by the open secret of widespread homosexuality among the clergy.
Even the thought of a ‘Eucharist Coherence’ document is enough to cause outrage among non-Catholics and ‘progressive’ Catholics because it carries within it the seed of potential action. The idea that the bishops might, for the first time in living memory, acknowledge that they have authority to discipline a member of their Church is radical.
The bishops and their critics are mistaken, however, if they think a Communion crackdown will bring Biden and other wayward Catholics, such as Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Fauci, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Xavier Becerra, back into grace.