25 November 2021, The Tablet

Biden, the bishops and Communion


Biden, the bishops and Communion

Bishops pray during their meeting
Photo: CNS/Bob Roller

 

At their meeting last week, the US bishops abandoned an attempt to use the Sacrament of the Eucharist to signal their distaste for President Joe Biden

“Well, we didn’t cover ourselves in glory,” one bishop told me last week after the annual plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “But we got out of there alive. It could have been much worse.”

It is true the attempt by some culture ­warrior bishops to adopt a document urging the denial of Communion to President Joe Biden and other pro-choice politicians failed. But the bishops paid a high price for their failure, adopting a thoroughly mediocre and anodyne text that was so inconsequential, they did not even send it to Rome as required of any teaching document intended to become binding on the various dioceses in the US.

Ever since Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, president of the USCCB, announced last year the formation of a working group to forge a response to Biden’s election, the issue of so-called “eucharistic coherence” has roiled the Catholic Church in the US. That working group led to Gómez issuing a surly statement on the day Biden became President, on 20 January 2021. Gomez congratulated the new chief magistrate but also warned: “Our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.” The statement was widely panned, and the working group was disbanded – but not before forwarding the recommendation for a document on “eucharistic coherence”.

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