Biden, Pelosi Could Be Denied Communion After US Catholic Bishops’ Vote

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U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved the drafting of a "teaching document" that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including U.S. President Joe Biden, for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

The decision, vehemently opposed by a minority of bishops, came despite appeals from the Vatican for a more cautious and collegial approach to the divisive issue.

More than 73% of the US bishops casting ballots at a virtual conference this week supported tasking the USCCB's doctrine committee to draft language on maintaining consistency with the Eucharist.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who chairs the US bishops' Committee on Doctrine, insisted throughout the three-day conference that the proposed document isn't meant to single out any particular group or issue, much less a specific lawmaker. Biden, the second Catholic to serve as US president, has alarmed many bishops by supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights, views they say are antithetical to church doctrine.

The conference's Committee on Doctrine is now expected to draft the document ahead of a November meeting when the bishops will review an amendable draft. To be formally adopted, the document would need support of two-thirds of the bishops.

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One section of the document is meant to include a specific admonition to Catholic politicians and other public figures who disobey church teaching on abortion and other core doctrinal issues.

During Thursday's debate, Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin stated that many he spoke with were "confused by a Catholic president who advances "the most radical pro-abortion agenda in history, '" adding that action from the bishops" conference was necessary.

According to a Pew Research poll from 2019, about 56% of Catholics said they thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases. "It will be impossible to prevent its weaponization, even if everyone wants to do so", McElroy said, according to media reports.

Nevertheless, at a time when the Catholic Church has been beset by a decades-long paedophilia scandal and membership has declined, the decision to consider punishing perhaps the best-known American Catholic - a man who attends Mass weekly and regularly speaks of his faith - comes with considerable risk. He's taken several executive actions during his presidency that were hailed by abortion-rights advocates.

The question comes as the Wall Street Journal reported Friday there is a movement afoot to disallow Biden to receive Communion from the Catholic Church due to his favorable position on murdering babies before they are born.

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"That's a private matter and I don't think that's going to happen", said Biden after delivering remarks about the state of the pandemic in the U.S.

Yet Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who leads the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine, which put forward the plan for a resolution, said in a news conference that the upcoming midterm and presidential elections "never entered my mind, or the committee's". The organization Students for Life held rallies in seven cities on Thursday to urge the bishops to vote "yes". The president has said he personally opposes abortion but supports a woman's right to choose.

The idea to produce a document was first developed by a working group commissioned by Conference of Catholic Bishops president José H. Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles.

The USCCB has identified the fight against abortion as its "preeminent" priority.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of New Jersey participates in the June 2021 virtual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishops engaged in discussion on whether to include a statement on the church's teaching on abortion in the guidelines for receiving Communion.

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