In the wake of the decision by the U.S. bishops to include a treatment of Eucharistic consistency in a new bishops’ statement about the Eucharist, pro-abortion Catholic politicians and their supporters in the media rushed to collectively accuse the U.S. bishops of “weaponizing” the Eucharist.
But it’s not the bishops who are politicizing this matter. It’s the pro-abortion Catholic politicians themselves — notably including President Joe Biden — who are doing that. By insisting on receiving Communion, despite their actions in support of legal abortion that are in total contradiction to what the Church teaches about the sanctity of human life, they are the ones seeking to wield the central sacrament of our Catholic faith as a political weapon.
To properly understand what’s in play, it’s necessary first to debunk a couple of the misrepresentations propagated by pro-legal-abortion Catholic politicians and their supporters. The U.S. bishops did not vote in favor of establishing a national policy mandating that pastors would be required to deny the Eucharist to wayward political Catholics. Decisions about the fitness of individual politicians to receive the Blessed Sacrament will remain in the hands of their local bishops. A national policy was never what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ leadership had in mind when they included this issue in the proposed outline of the Eucharistic document they have now been authorized to craft ahead of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that is scheduled to commence next year.
The proposal debated at the spring assembly, and ultimately endorsed by a strong majority of the active bishops in virtual attendance, was merely to include the problem of dissenting politicians who present themselves for Communion within the context of a far broader presentation on Eucharistic coherence. That presentation is intended to remind all faithful Catholics who receive the sacrament, not just politicians, of their solemn duty to strive to follow God’s will in all their actions.
Another misleading claim of the pro-legal-abortion Catholics is that the bishops are elevating the abortion issue above other equally important political issues, such as immigration, racism, climate change and the alleviation of poverty. In fact, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who heads the doctrine committee that will draft the Eucharistic document, specifically communicated at the assembly that other issues will be cited in it (and that politicians won’t be the only public figures referenced).
But more fundamentally, while other aspects of the Church’s social doctrine certainly deserve attention, they aren’t of equal significance to abortion for the straightforward reason that legal abortion is directly responsible for the deaths of 1 million unborn babies in the U.S. every year. Exercising prudential judgments about matters like how many immigrants our nation should welcome annually is necessarily of less political and spiritual importance than working to putting an end to the legalized murder of these unborn babies.
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