Many American Catholics are concerned, confused, and even scandalized by the fact the president’s policies are contradictory to the Catholic faith he professes and yet he is still allowed to present himself for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Ave Maria Radio has put together some resources that can help explain the situation and what can and might be done about it. Find more information below about a petition to support Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
Photo by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.
What is the Eucharist?
The Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments and is often described as the “source and summit of Christian life.”
During the Mass, the bread and wine is changed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, “the entire Christ is in this sacrament.”
It is also a sacrament of communion. When one partakes in the Eucharist, they are partaking in both the literal body of Christ and showing solidarity with the body of Christ, that is the Church. As St. John Damascene says, “it is called Communion because we communicate with Christ through it, both because we partake of His flesh and Godhead, and because we communicate with and are united to one another through it.”
For more reading on the Eucharist:
Al Kresta took your calls on President Biden and the Eucharist on Kresta in the Afternoon
What is the problem?
President Joe Biden frequently references his Catholic faith, his meeting with Pope Francis, and attends Mass “most Sundays,” according to his Press Secretary. In spite of this, however, President Biden not only tolerates but promotes certain policies that are against Catholic teaching. The gravest example of this is abortion because, as the bishops have said, “it is a direct attack on life.” Because of his support for these policies, he separates himself from the Catholic Church. The Eucharist, or Communion, is a sacrament of unity; it shows the community that participates in the sacrament that they are all one. This is one of the reasons the Liturgy of the Eucharist follows the Creed in Mass. Many Catholics see the President partaking in this sacrament of unity as scandalous because he is in direct contradiction with Church teaching.
So, who can do what about it?
The ecclesial authority over President Biden falls on two people. His bishop at his home parish in Wilmington, Delaware and the bishop of his parish in Washington, DC. In this case, it falls on Bishop-elect Monsignor William Koenig and Cardinal Archbishop Wilton Gregory. They are the only ones who have authority to restrict the President’s access to the sacrament.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is reportedly discussing a document on “eucharistic coherence.” If this document is drafted, it will not single out the President or any Catholic, but instead will be an explanation on the Church teaching about the Eucharist or perhaps an explanation about Canon 915. In this way, might be similar to a document passed by the Latin American bishops in 2007 called “The Aparecida Document.” In that document, the bishops stated that Catholic legislatures and doctors must “be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged.“
So, what can we do about it?
Pray; that is the first thing we can do. The next thing we can do is sign the petition to support Archbishop Joseph Naumann. Archbishop Naumann is the Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, and is chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. A group of left-wing Catholics have a petition demanding that Archbishop Naumann be removed from his Chair on that committee because of his belief that President Biden should not present himself to Communion. We have partnered with CatholicVote and other organizations to form our own petition supporting Archbishop Naumann and the work he has done for the pro-life movement. Sign the petition by clicking the image below!
What has the Church said previously about abortion and the Eucharist?
- Living the Gospel of Life (1998) – USCCB
- Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles (2004) – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2007, updated in 2019) – USCCB
- FCFC was developed as a way to help American Catholics discern how to vote for candidates in American elections. In the United States, Catholics do not fit well into any political party, so these decisions can sometimes be difficult.
- The Aparecida Document (2007) – CELAM
- The Aparecida Document was developed by the Episcopal Conference of Latin America. Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Brazil and the future Pope Francis, had a major role in the development of this document. Paragraph 436 says that legislators and doctors must adhere to “eucharistic coherence,” the concept that they should not present themselves for Communion if they “act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged”
- Conscience and the Catholic Voter (2020) – The Diocese of Toledo, Ohio
- Veneremur Cernui (2021) – The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix
- Before I Formed You in the Womb I Knew You (2021) – Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco
Recent articles about President Biden and the Eucharist
- Monica Miller, PhD.: Abp. Naumann, Pres. Biden, and the ongoing clash over Holy Communion – Catholic World Report
- Archbishop Emeritus Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.: Mr. Biden and the Matter of Scandal – First Things
- Archbishop Samuel Aquila: For the church to live in eucharistic coherence, we must be willing to challenge Catholics persisting in grave sin. – America Magazine
- Archbishop Samuel Aquila: Eucharistic Coherence – Catholic World Report
- Archbishop Joseph Naumann: “Obviously, the president doesn’t believe what we believe about the sacredness of human life, or he wouldn’t be taking the actions that he is. And yet, he continues to receive the Eucharist.” – The Atlantic