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5 Items to Watch at the US Bishops’ Fall Meeting

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is meeting in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the bishops have many issues to discuss since their virtual June meeting where a debate erupted over the drafting of a document on the Eucharist that addressed worthiness to receive Communion. 

While many in the media framed that debate as being aimed at President Joe Biden, a baptized Catholic who breaks with Church teaching on abortion but continues to receive Communion, the document is actually being issued alongside an initiative to teach U.S. Catholics about the Eucharist — in light of studies showing a pressing need for catechesis on the topic. 

Other items prominently on the bishops’ agenda include elections for important roles within the conference, as well as considering the causes for sainthood and beatification of three Catholic Americans. An update will also be given on a pro-life initiative the bishops began two years ago aimed at assisting moms in need.

Eucharistic Coherence

But the issue that will be front and center at the conference is the bishops’ statement on the Eucharist, titled “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church.” The document prompted a fierce debate in June over whether to go ahead with its drafting, given concerns expressed by some that it would be taken as a political move aimed at President Biden. Ultimately, a clear majority of bishops (168-55) voted to draft the document. 

The media and some politicians framed the move as a rebuke for Biden despite repeated statements from the USCCB that “the bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion” and noting that “the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.” 

The draft of the document, which will be opened up for discussion and amendments this week prior to a vote, was recently leaked and does not mention any politician by name. But it does restate the text of the bishops’ 2006 document on Catholics in public life that “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”

Read more at National Catholic Register

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