The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will draft a document setting forth the American church’s position on the Eucharist — possibly including instructions on who should, and should not, receive the sacrament, such as President Biden, a Catholic who has expanded abortion funding during his first months in office.
Several prominent Roman Catholic politicians, including Mr. Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, support abortion measures, which goes against the church’s teaching. The official Catholic Church position is that those who support abortion should not take Communion.
The vote, taken Thursday but revealed Friday, was 168-55 in favor of drafting the report, with six abstentions. The proposal was introduced in November after the election of Mr. Biden as the nation’s second Roman Catholic president.
The approval came following heated debate Thursday, and despite opposition from several bishops who oversee major areas serving the nation’s 70.4 million Roman Catholics.
Washington, D.C., archbishop Cardinal Wilton Gregory told the meeting, “The choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves or settle for creating a document that may not bring unity but may well further damage it.”
Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, said those calling for further discussion before approving the document may have an unrevealed motive: “This call for dialogue: sometimes I wonder if the dialogue is meant not truly to listen, but to delay,” he said.
Doctrinal committee chair Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who on Tuesday walked back earlier reports that the document would impose restrictions on those who go forward to receive the Eucharist, told bishops Thursday that while the question of worthiness would be considered in the document, the proposal did not intend to focus on a specific person or action.
Often described as “very Catholic,” Mr. Biden has frequently been photographed holding a Rosary belonging to his late son, Beau, who died of glioblastoma in 2015 at age 46. The president regularly attends Mass, including visiting the Sacred Heart and St. Ia Church in St. Ives, Cornwall, last weekend while attending the Group of Seven summit in England.